Have you ever cried after taking a personality test?

I sobbed the last time I took one. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was devastated. I’d spent several hours over-analyzing questions and doubtfully filling in blanks only to have the computer spit out a result that I knew, deep down, wasn’t me. Well, it was somewhat me, but mostly it was the girl I hoped others saw when they looked at me — and she was quite different than who I knew I really was.

The Failed Personality Test

My personality, or more accurately, the person others see when they look at me, has undergone drastic change since then. Here’s the story of how I finally learned to identify my true personality…

Until my mid-twenties, I thought of myself as an introvert, and most who knew me would have described me as ‘reserved’. I was quiet more often than loud, preferred alone time to group settings, and had fought painful shyness as long as I could remember. I spent vast amounts of time journaling my private thoughts, and valued one-on-one time with people I trusted over broader forms of fellowship.

Six years ago I found myself sitting in the ER with unexplained chest pain and shortness of breath. I was scared stiff, but this was actually the beginning of something very good. From fear and questions in a sterile hospital gown to the beginnings of answers in the consulting room of my naturopath, to finally really listening to the wise words of my husband and other Godly mentors, I made an incredible discovery that would begin to set my true personality free.

For years I had believed my quiet reserve was the skin of an introvert. But that spring the Lord began to reveal to me that all the symptoms — from my shyness to the panic attacks — were actually a symptom of an unhealthy fear of man that had crippled the person God made me to be.

Slowly, over the course of a summer, the Lord renewed my mind with truth and I began to taste freedom. I learned to believe and even revel in the concept that my worth was not at all related to how well others thought of me. That it was more a joyful and infinitely less taxing job to please God rather than man. That the world did not begin to crumble if Trina Holden was not superwoman in everyone’s eyes.

I began to understand this joyful declaration:

“In God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11 NIV)

When I stopped living in fear of man,  a funny thing happened. The woman God made me to be finally felt free to come to the surface. I became outgoing, loving interaction with people in groups, large or small. In fact, my personal motto became, “the more the merrier!” No longer bound by the fear that something I said would be judged and found wanting, I began to step more fully into the calling I felt on my heart to be an encourager. I went from studiously avoiding eye contact in the grocer checkout line, sweating as I attempted to fill out my check without mistake, to complimenting the cashier on her hairdo, and laughing at the joke when I almost walked away without my bags (again!).

All this change because I finally started looking to God for His definition of my identity:

Trina: noun — Beloved Daughter, redeemed and worthy because of His great love, not for anything she has ever done or not done.

Once secure in my standing before Christ — the only One who’s opinion really matters — I was then able to discover, understand, and embrace the woman He created me to be. And now when I fill out personality tests, the results come out clear and true: I’m an ENFP — a people-loving extrovert who thrives on lots of deep fellowship and fun activity! And I have experienced so much joy in finally embracing my true personality.

If you have been discouraged in your attempts to discern your own, God-given personality, taking yet another personality test may not be the answer. I’d encourage you to first look into the mirror of God’s Word, which will tell you so much more about who you are than any man-made test. Read Isaiah, a book that is like a love letter to God’s people, full of His affection and faithful love despite their failings. Read Ephesians, which will ground you in your standing before Christ (it’s not about you, it’s about what He did for you). Discovering how He defines you and your worth can lead to a clearer understanding of your unique personality, and the freedom to embrace it, without the confusion of outside opinions and pressures.

My prayer for you when the lines that define you are fuzzy:

“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power .” (Ephesians 1:17-19 NKJV)

Visit my blog for the full story of how the Lord delivered me from a severe anxiety disorder–I’d love to connect with you there!

5 Comments

  1. My husband hates all those personality and spiritual gifts inventories because they pigeon-hole people. We are deeper than that, and multi-faceted.

  2. Loved your story, Trina! Thanks so much for sharing.

    I’ve ‘heard’ you say you used to be an introvert before, not sure which post. But the idea has been truly enlightening for me. Not that my story is the same, but I always thought of myself as an introvert, too.

    Then because of reading this about you, I started thinking maybe I’m not. Because I didn’t used to be, around people I knew.

    I think ever since we left the Amish Mennonite world I knew, I just didn’t know how to act or what to say and so, I started identifying myself as an introvert, while all the while I felt depressed and locked up because I really love interacting with people…when I feel free to do so.

    Now that I stopped thinking of myself as an introvert, I’ve been feeling a lot more free to be and to discover who I am again 🙂

    Thanks again 🙂

  3. Wow! This could be me, the anxiety and introvert-like qualities, all of it! I have been challenged and inspired to begin digging into Gods word to find my security, and standing before Him! Thank you so much!!!

  4. Beautiful, uplifting, and encouraging! Thanks, Trina! I needed to read this today!

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