I love personality tests. I’m seriously a junkie for things like Myer’s Briggs, the Enneagram, StrengthsFinder…
As I mentioned in a previous blog, the thing about any kind of self-assessment is that it can be painful. And recently the Lord has been using these assessments to reveal to me some things about myself that I’d rather NOT be true.
For example, I recently discovered that I am an ENTP on the Myers Briggs. This is a new discovery for me. For the longest time I thought I was something else. But believe me…I’m definitely and ENTP. And do you want to know what they call an ENTP?? — “The Debator!”
NOOO! Weeping and gnashing of teeth! Bluuuurgg! I don’t want to be known as “the debater!” (Sigh) Isn’t it amazingly ironic that I wanted to debate Emily’s (and my sister’s) quick response of hearty agreement to the title of my personality profile?!
Anyway, as I begin to settle into the truth about my tendencies, I’m beginning to see how my personality keeps me from prayer.
I’ve wanted to grow in prayer for a couple of years now. I’ve felt a deep longing, maybe even a “calling,” to go deeper in prayer. And yet the truth is that I’ve only made minor improvements in this area of my spiritual development.
How does my personality keep me from prayer?
Historically, when I’m having an issue with someone in my life, a conflict or a misunderstanding, here’s what typically goes down for me:
When I think I’m right about something, my debater-self (blah!) wants to “make it happen” in others. I have a fire in me that wants to play a large role in helping others “get it” when there is a disagreement of any size. I become desperate to “fix” the situation through debate so that I can reach a mutual understanding with others.
When that doesn’t work — and it’s taken me 30 years to discover that it rarely does — and when the conflict is big enough, I start to feel hopeless, sad, disappointed and maybe even a bit scared. The thing about conflict is that it can often be fairly painful and uncomfortable — and that drives the 7 in me to avoid and steer clear of the situation or the people involved. More than most, 7’s desperately want to avoid sad and painful feelings. So, I shove down those dreaded feelings and move on with life.
In my flesh, my natural man, my natural personality — never once do I stop to consider praying about the situation!
Here are some verses that are helping:
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…casting all you anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
Instead of venting and waging war — maybe I should cast my frustrations, my fears, and my disappointments on God? Maybe if I cast the weight of these anxieties on Him — it will help me to be quicker to listen, slower to speak, and slower to get angry? Maybe it would help me be better at telling others my perspective, my truth, my feelings without letting loose the hurtful and brash debater that lies within?
But what should I do if I still feel misunderstood, if the disappointment grows, if the situation continues to deteriorate and there seems to be no way to “fix” it? Prayer leaves me in a position to trust the Lord to deal with hearts in ways that I simply can’t. Running and avoiding is one way of dealing with painful feelings — another way of coping with these feelings is to bring them to the Lord — to lay them in His trustworthy hands. But I can’t trust Him to help me if I’m not talking to Him about what’s going on.
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
When I’m in the midst of painful, sad, scary, disappointing trials and sufferings, maybe I need to learn to stay steadfast and long-suffering? After all God Himself is steadfast and long-suffering. I’m so thankful for His steady long-suffering patience as He deals with me. I’m thankful that He presses into the sad things, the broken things, the disappointing things, and the broken things.
In order to be steady and long-suffering like He is, I need a power that is not my own. I need to go to Him in prayer. I need to cast my anxieties on Him. I need resources from Him to endure hard things in life.
I’m sure I’m not alone — you might not be a 7 ENTP like me — but I figure that some of you struggle with similar frustrations in life and with yourself. I just wanted to encourage you with how God’s Word has been speaking to the particular sins and weakness of my personality in hope that you’ll see you’re not alone — and to encourage you to press into prayer with me.
Let’s go to God in prayer, casting all of those anxiety producing situations (large or small) on God. He wants us to talk to Him about them. Which, really blows my mind when I think about it. The God of the whole universe wants me to talk with Him about my frustrations and worries. Thinking about these things just reminds me that prayer is a blessing and a help that I don’t want to miss out on anymore if I can manage it.