Outside my front door sits a snake plant. Beside the snake plant rest my Birkenstocks.
And this bothers me.
I am not bothered because I don’t like snake plants or Birkenstocks. I actually think snake plants are super cool, and I often say my Birks were the best investment I made before moving overseas.
No, what bothers me is that I like them both. It bothers me that the plant sitting outside my front door has a hashtag on Instagram, a hashtag that’s been used over 90,000 times. It bothers me that 50% of the short-termers who come through my city are wearing the Birks I love so well. So to me, seeing these items parked outside my front door screams “Welcome to a trendy person’s home.”
And I react to being trendy.
Funny thing, but I never really acknowledged that about myself until it came up in the Myers-Briggs. Being imaginative is important to an ENFP, and following trends feels way too boxed-in for my style. Sometimes this is a great strength, and other times this plays out in ugly ways in my life. I needed an outsider to paint me an image so I could see that clearly, so I can recognize the reactions.
Oh the complexity of our internal make-up, of this powerful thing we call personality. Sometimes it’s our best friend, helping us crush the walk-off home run. Other times, it’s our Achilles heel. (Pardon me, I really love metaphors)
As an extrovert who values creativity, the personality God formed me with can be a great help to a team, a church, a community. Your specific personality has all manner of positives to offer.
It also brings challenges. My own bent toward authenticity can make others feel cheap, or it can develop an independence that screams “I’m ok on my own.” Yours has its own downfalls.
But somehow, God made us who we are as a part of His divine plan, and I believe He desires us to really understand who we are so we can best walk in those “good works [he] prepared beforehand.”
If Christ’s bride is the church, and if the church is made up of people, and if we ourselves are those people, then would we not do well to know who we truly are, how we truly thrive, what our greatest weaknesses are?
In David Benner’s The Gift of Being Yourself, he suggests there are three keystones in the journey of self-discovery: knowing we are deeply loved, deeply sinful, and in the process of being redeemed and restored. He also reminds us that “We do not find our true self by seeking it. Rather we find it by seeking God. For . . . in finding God, we find our truest and deepest selves.”
To me, those words give me grace for this being a process. I understand and embrace that seeking God is a life-long expedition, but somehow I tend to think of this struggle of finding who I am as something we face as teenagers and perhaps hit round two in our mid-life crisis. But knowing yourself does not happen overnight, nor does it happen in isolation. Sometimes it’s others who help us see areas we can’t see, or things we’re not willing to stare down.
A few months ago, I sat at a table at my favorite breakfast spot and used all the one-ply Asian napkins within reach to soak up my tears. Across from me sat some dear, courageous friends, and something that was said touched a spot of vulnerability deep inside of me. I was, yet again, apologizing for being myself. Heading down the all-too-familiar path of believing that my personality is “too much”: too talkative, too opinionated, too everything. My kind friends lovingly pointed it out, asking me why I find it necessary to make excuses for being the person God made me to be.
The master designer did not make a mistake when he made you. Those were the words that triggered the waterfall of tears. But as quickly as this truth settled over me, I had to fight away this overwhelming shame – I’m in my mid-thirties, don’t most people come to grips with their personality in middle school? What is wrong with me?
But I choose to push back the wall of shame and lean into the journey of knowing God and knowing myself. I intentionally make a choice to let the positives of my personality bring glory to His kingdom and to allow Him permission to refine the edges where selfishness claims supremacy. I will call to mind how I am deeply loved, deeply sinful, and that Christ is doing his work of sweet redemption in my life. I will probably need to keep this level of intentionality for years to come. Perhaps in time it will become habit, but until then, I choose to walk this journey of seeking God and finding my “deepest and truest self.”
And I’ll try to be ok with liking snake plants and Birkenstocks.
What areas of your personality have been a blessing to your specific work? What parts bring challenges?