by Alia Joy
“Easily offended? What! I’m not easily offended,” she gasped as she read her results. Her brows were knit together and her face had deepened into a crimson flush as she read through the list of weaknesses commonly associated with her personality type.
We sat there watching her whilst trying not to point out the very obvious: her results had offended her.
She noticed our lack of response and peered over her paper to meet our eyes. And then it hit her. The irony of her outraged response, so common for her temperament, was both comically obvious and hysterically unobserved by her until she had seen the reaction through our eyes.
The red flush deepened and her face cracked wide into a gregarious smile, head tilted back as laughter shook her. “Ok, I guess I might be a bit easily offended,” she grimaced.
As an INFJ, I am drawn to understanding people. I have a rabbit trail thought life that blossoms and blooms silently in my head as I take in the world around me. There is a joke with Myers Briggs Personality Tests that if you’d like to see if someone is lying, hook them up to an INFJ. We read people and situations and feelings and that intuitive nature makes us relate easily to other’s circumstances.
My friend, the easily offended one, she is an ENTJ. Fiery and spirited with grand schemes, a toe-tapping with arms crossed and waiting for you to catch up type who is always onto the next thing before you’ve had a chance to settle. She gets things done, loves a challenge, and being in control.
We got along well because I knew when she was impatient, it wasn’t personal. It was her, at full throttle. We were both visionary and with that in common, we often found ourselves bent over some idea we were both passionate about, but that is where the similarities ended. Because of our types, our approach to the same vision looked drastically different. And yet, it worked.
I tethered her back to earth reminding her that she had to play nice with others because, feelings. People have them. And she reminded me that we can’t just live in our heads with all of those feelings, we sometimes have to risk it all and get things done.
I’ve heard it said before, if all were known, all would be forgiven.
Would you think differently about those horrid children running rampant on the playground, cutting in line, and calling the other children names if you knew they were there to switch houses for the fifth time in a month because the last foster parents couldn’t handle them any more? Would you have more sympathy if you knew they were left alone for almost 13 days before a neighbor reported that their meth-addicted mother hadn’t come home? Would you be a little more understanding if you knew they cry in their sleep and that when the social workers have touched their shoulders or given them any affection, they stiffen and retract like they’ve been electrocuted? I bet you would. I did.
It may be a long leap from empathizing with the broken and hurting to overlooking someone’s tendency to get snippy on a personality test, but really isn’t that what God is asking us to do?
When we take the time to look deeper, we see God calling us to live grace into the lives of others. He lavishes grace in between the sharpening iron, like oil in the gears, we are wound together, turning and circling lives joined in Christ.
To live in understanding and unity with those who are wound a bit tighter or tick off beat, it often helps to know their story. Where are they coming from? Why do they insist on doing it that way? What makes them tick?
Myers Briggs won’t solve all of your interpersonal relationships or answer all of your deepest darkest questions about who you are or what God is calling you to, but it just might point you in the right direction. It just might make you pause when someone is marching out ahead while you’re still processing or when your approach is to sit and ponder and their’s is to make a memo and rally the troops.
I love Myers Briggs because I am a nerd and stuff like that gets me excited (INFJ), but also because knowing how God made each individual, their strengths and weaknesses, drives, passions, purpose, and calling help us to cover and fill. To build up a body of different parts, to see personhood as something uniquely individual and at the same time, common.
We see how love covers a multitude of sins. Loving others in all of their gifts and burdens, trials and triumphs, quirks and qualities, helps unite us.