I dislike personality tests. I know, I’m treading on some thin ice with some of you; you may never read the blog again if I say something mean about Myers/Briggs. Nonetheless, every time I take a personality test, I think two things from the get-go: First, it’s just going to tell me what I just told it. Second, it’s just going to tell me that I’m a Bull Elephant or A-Positive or whatever color or herb or Pokemon means “You have a dominating personality. You get stuff done, but you should be nicer.”
However, several years ago, I took a personality test that started that way but ended on a different note. I grumbled through the first 50 minutes or so, but this being a personality test for seminary, it ended with a Bible verse that the test-designers thought people like me should keep in mind. I could shrug off the packet-writers, but this was Scripture, so I tried to stop, slow down, and give it a real read. Here’s the passage to which they sent me:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace
That convicted me. Thus began a multi-year project to change what I had heretofore simply considered “my personality.”
I don’t know if you’ve seen a change in me. I don’t think about the verse every day or even most days. If I’ve made any changes that align with this passage, most may not spring from reflection on this passage: Marriage, ministry, moving, mentors, and more have taught me little pieces of what James is commending here. In all these ways, calling this a “project” of mine might be overreaching.
Yet, I am happily God’s project, and here’s what this passage reminds me each time I come across it: Nothing in us is off-limits for God. Nothing is too big, too basic, too personal, or too ingrained for God to change if a change is in order. Some parts of our personalities are different from one another simply for the delightfulness of difference, and I believe these differences will endure (grow?), into the ages of ages. Yet, other traits that we harbor under “personality” are ripe for the transforming power of the wisdom from above. If this frightens us, it should also inspire us, because we know the model after which God is shaping us: “Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Nothing in us is off-limits for God.
The air was growing brighter and brighter about us; as if something had set it on fire. Each breath I drew let into me new terror, joy, overpowering sweetness. I was pierced through and through with the arrow of it. I was being unmade. I was no one. But that’s little to say; rather, Psyche herself was, in a manner, no one. I loved her as I would once have thought it impossible to love, would have died any death for her. And yet, it was not, not now, she that really counted. Or if she counted (and oh, gloriously she did) it was for another’s sake. The earth and stars and sun, all that was or will be, existed for his sake. And he was coming. The most dreadful, the most beautiful, the only dread and beauty there is, was coming.
-Orual in C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, p.307