Tempered by Love©

The personality profile test the church used was supposed to help me understand myself.   Everyone seemed to buy into it.  I was told it was helpful in knowing how to work in relationships in ministry together.  I bought into it too.  I wanted to know who I was.  I wanted to understand the lingo everyone was using.  Little did I know that it would end up being something used to shut me down.

I attended the seminars where the pastor presented the information.  I received my label.   “D”, Direct, Decisive, High Ego Strength, Problem Solver, Risk Taker, Self Starter.  As he described the weaknesses of my new-found diagnosis I felt the shame wash over me.  Really, is this who I am?  It didn’t look good for a southern woman in the church.  I didn’t want to be her.  I wanted to be someone else.  I didn’t want to anyone to know.

I will never forget the Sunday I was asked by one woman in particular about my profile.  As I spoke I heard the groan escape her lips, confirming what I had come to believe.  No one wants to have a personality like mine.

I determined that I would temper myself and manage my behavior.  I made a decision to try to dial down those negative strengths in hopes that they wouldn’t be seen.  Maybe I could discipline myself into an “S.  Everyone loved the “S” personality.  After all they are good listening team players who are steady, predictable, understanding and friendly.

Sometime later I attended the seminar for a 2nd time.  I hoped the results would come out better since I’d been working hard to become different.  This time another letter was added to my identity..  I was now a combination of a “D” and an “I”.  I liked that better as the “I” is an enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative person.  I began to settle into this improved identification.  If I changed enough to become an “I” surely some “S” would begin to filter in.

I was ashamed of who a test had determined me to be.  I didn’t realize that it was an assessment of my flesh.  I became lost in who I was, tempering those things strongest in me to blandness.  I began to try to behave my way into a new personality, one that would find me acceptable.  I believed that the strongest things in me were the worst things about me.

Jesus loves searching for the lost sheep to bring them out.  I am proof of that.  In these past years He has found me hidden underneath the layers.  He has picked me up, dusted me off and begun to tell me a very different story, the one He’s always known.  He tells me how the strengths I’ve been trying to hide were my best to Him.  They were ones He had given specifically to me.  He offered to teach me how to live in them as His Spirit tempered me with love, making everything just right.

The labels began to drop off as I began to realize that a personality profile would never be able to tell me who I am.  It can reveal strengths and weaknesses of my flesh but it can never identify me.  That belongs to the One who gave me life.  He waits to tell me.

The wilderness has allowed for that.  It has caused me to bring who I see myself to be to Him, allowing redemption to have its finest hour.  As we chat He shows me what it all looks like through His eyes.  It’s more stunning than I had imagined.  The need to flesh it all out gets lost as His love washes over me spilling out its truth.  A doorway opens inviting me to live in the fullness of who I am, one who is made to crave the best for others.

I no longer need to hide the beautiful strengths He’s given to me.  They are as much a part of me as the breath I take in.  I cannot dismiss them.  I must let them be what He made them to be.

His words are awakening me these days.  I’m finding my way into the story that was written of my life long before the ages began.  As it finds its way in I am finding my way out to live as the one who is tempered by love.

©copyrighted: 2011, Julie L. Todd
This sermon on Ephesians 4: 30-32 by David Pinkerton spoke to these truths in me.  Check it out under their current series.

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24 thoughts on “Tempered by Love©

  1. Julie, love, every group needs a D or two. I am not a D, but I recognize the need for all of these types of strengths. Luckily for me, I have come across several theories of management in the last few years that say play to a person’s strengths and don’t focus so much on the weaknesses. Just the opposite of what we used to hear. It used to be all about finding a way to make the person strong in their weak places – which meant there was no energy spent on refining and focusing the strengths. Our whole division at work went through a similar type of testing and we got the results last week. We all ended up in a wheel with four colors. They gave us a map of the whole group and where we fell in the color wheel. But there was nothing about strengths and weaknesses. It was all about preferences in relating. It was very affirming in many ways. Even for the previously diagnosed Ds. 😉 I love your strengths. I am sure they are part of why you reached out to me when you did. And I love that you reached out to me. I’m still carrying around a printout of that first message where you affirmed me. I have a “Julie and Rebekah” folder in my email. Some of the comments are too lovely to delete. I’m glad Jesus let you know that you are precious in His sight, just the way He made you.

    So I forgot to ask before, what part of the South are you in?

    • Carolyn,
      I was born and raised in Tennessee, married lived in Florida for 2 years and 26 years in Georgia now. Thank you so much for your comments. So blessed to know there is a Julie and Rebekah file.. What an honor… Thanks for being here!

      • How interesting that you and Rebekah are both living in states where I have family. My sweet mother-in-law (who is really from New Jersey) lives in Georgia. Things that make you go hmmm…

  2. “I didn’t realize that it was an assessment of my flesh.”

    Loved that sentence!!!

    I wrote this note today from the grace series at ODF……”Believing the truth of our indentity in Christ is what brings peace.”

    I believe that this topic, this identity, this “who I am” is being played out between Jesus and I, like a violent game of tug of war. I suppose I’m afraid to believe Him, having lived so much of my life in the shadow of the words spoken to me. Either rebelling against it or leaning into them. I’m not confident that Jesus is right. I have an easier time believing those who I can see, touch and feel.

    Wow. That was a profound revelation.

    I think I’ll end with that.

    • I love the note you wrote, my friend. I’m here to tell you that I KNOW who is going to win the tug of war about your identity… ha ha.. Don’t worry, He’ll just keep telling you UNTIL you believe the words!!

      Love you much!!

  3. Hi, and greetings from Finland! I don’t remember where I’ve found your blog but I’m glad I did.

    This post of yours was both painful and joyful to read because God has been trying to teach me this for years. I linked to this post from my blog.

    FWIW, my very good friend probably is a “D”, too. And it has not been easy for her. Mostly because of other people. That’s sad. If only us humans would have more love and mercy towards each other instead of criticism and judgement.

    Blessings to you.

    • Elja, A visitor from Finland, WOW. Thanks for stopping in. What a blessing it is to have you here! I visited over at your blog and left you a reply… What a gift that you would link to my post. Thank you!

      Thanks for stopping by… hope you will visit again!

      Blessings,
      Julie

  4. Sister..I am glad that you found out that’s it’s okay to be you..you are a beautiful loving God fearing woman inside and out.. I love your post..you inspire me.

  5. Oh Jewel, this is beautiful. I loved it. I love your flesh strengths as they are my flesh weaknesses and when we work together it’s right. I need you. I’m so glad God made us all different so we’d have to work together. He’s all about unity and love. I love you very much, Mom

  6. I LOVE this post Julie! I have been in that very same predicament. I have my own horror story. It was a test regarding our spiritual gifts, our strengths and weaknesses. The test came back that I was blessed with the gift of intersession. They then separated us all into groups with those others that had the same strength. Guess what.. I was alone. Red faced, the shy girl that I was wanted to disappear. To make matters worse they began asking me to pray since, well, it was my “gift.” What they didn’t realize was that yes prayer/intercession is a personal passion of mine but not a public one. I played the part and prayed when asked but it took me a long time to realize that I’m more than answers on a test. Thanks for this reminder.

    • My dear friend Heather… SO good to see you here, to read your sweet story! It’s funny but there is a woman I know who has told me several times that she knows I’m an intercessor. Funny thing is… I’m really not. But I am a communicator! ha ha.. It’s hard when people look at you, assess you and then try to get you to step into it… when it doesn’t fit… AWKWARD!!

      I’m so glad to have you here, my friend!!

  7. Julie – Lovely post. Isn’t it true that our strengths and weakness are often the flip side of the coin? You are indeed stunningly and beautifully designed by the Creator! Glad to hear you’re beginning to see it!
    By the way – I’ve taken, given, and even written many personality inventories and while they offer some insight, they’re so limited, partially by our own lack of awareness.
    My junior year at Taylor I took the MMPI for the second time, and for the second time, I was strongly urged to become a Catholic priest! 😉

    • Debbie, I couldn’t agree with you more. The thing about personality profiles is that you have to sit there with 4 definitions ONLY and find the one that you think fits you the best. Through most of the test I would find myself questioning each and every word. Do I feel more this or this in this situation??? It doesn’t take into account the fact that what you see about yourself might not be accurate. I can see it all clearly now… THANK GOD! Too funny about the Catholic priest… ha ha.

      Thanks for being here and offering your words!

  8. Beautifully expressed. As an “S”, can I just tell you how much I appreciate a “D”? I couldn’t help but read your post as analogous to the Body of Christ. We were each created uniquely and distinctly for a purpose of our own given through Him. I’m so glad that you found a place of rest in the divineness that is you and not a formulaic expression of the flesh. Thanks for the reminder (this counselor needs to be reminded), and for the beautiful expression of truth!

    • Melissa, Thank you for being here. It’s great to see you!! My mom and my husband were classified as “S’s” they liked aspects of my “D”… It’s living proof that we were all meant to learn how to do this life together, protecting each other’s strengths and weaknesses… I hated being labeled. So much was missed in that for me. Yes, these are weaknesses I need to be aware of… but they are not to be my focus. When I focus on the new identity that I am… living out of Christ in me, trusting others with who I am… everything seems to balance out. Thanks again for being here!

  9. Great post! So often we define ourselves by what everyone else has to say about me rather than what God has to say about me. Personality tests have their uses I suppose, but I am glad that we are all unique made by God’s hands. I am so thankful that we have the Holy Spirit living in us to help us move closer to what God would have us to be. We will not be perfect until heaven. I appreciate your sweet spirit and openness. I also like the new look of your blog. Blessings to you.

    • Amy, What a blessing it is to see you here. You have been a blog friend for a very long time. Thank you for encouraging my heart today with your words!
      It’s great to see you here…. really!!

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