I got sick of hearing about the Four Temperaments. For a while there it seemed like everyone I knew was talking about it. I didn’t like the way it seemed to lead to navel-gazing, and to fitting everyone in the world into one of four little boxes.
My view has softened a bit, especially since hearing Art and Laraine Bennett give a talk on their books, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids.
All the same, I’m more interested in what I’ve learned about the Myers-Briggs type indicator. It allows for more nuance. And since reading up on it, I’ve come to an amazing discovery:
Not everyone thinks like I do.
This helps me appreciate my husband more. It helps me nurture my children. It helps me to stop judging other people. (Especially those with “P” at the end of their MBTI type. As a “J” I tend to have little patience with “P’s.”)
But more and more MBTI helps me in my faith.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and just recently I found a passage in Magnificat that explains it all:
Our natural, spontaneous way of acting (and with religious people it can pass unnoticed when it seems harmless and neutral) is to live by what our feelings tell us is the truth of things . . . how we experience and perceive ourselves, others, events, and, of course, God. We tend to judge ourselves (do we not?)–our prayer, our spiritual life, our progress–on how it seems to us, and we just assume this is the reality . . . .
Christianity stands on objective truth, not on subjective perception, intuition, reasoning or whatever, whether collective or individual. . . . We Christians must look to Jesus, and to Jesus alone, for our vision of God, ourselves, others and the world around us. . . . And how different this is from the notions of God that the human mind and heart produce of themselves.
— Sister Ruth Burrows, O.C.D. (excerpted from her book, Hidden Spring)
Reading about my type (I think it’s ISFJ), makes me realize my “subjective perception, intuition, reasoning.” I tend to cling to tradition, to shoulder responsibilities instinctively, to crave approval for doing the right thing.
This insight into my own subconscious has made me step back. When I’m making a decision or even just forming an opinion or starting to get emotional: am I really basing this on reality, or my own distorted view of reality?
Of course, we all see reality through our own personality. That’s unavoidable. But it’s helpful to step back.
Am I clinging to habits and ways of thinking just because they feel right to me, because it’s my default? Or am I going to Jesus first and going from there?
It’s really helpful.
And since I read this in Magnificat, I’m linking up with Jessica for What We’re Reading Wednesday.