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.