Some time ago, I took the 16 personalities test. This is awesome! I loved how accurate the results were for me. Turns out, I am an INFP-T, also known as “The Mediator.” People like me seek peace and have good insight into ourselves and the feelings of others. That being said, I knew myself pretty well before taking the test, but it pointed out one thing about my personality that I had never really understood before. You see, while I am a peace-loving, co-operative and flexible person, I have found myself in a number of situations where there was something I could just not let go and it brought out a whole different side of me – a side that’s blunt, stubborn and sometimes tactless. It has ruined relationships and humbled me many a time. But here’s the deal – this is a key part of people with my personality type. Us mediators are sensitive to stress and when our usual patient, gracious ways aren’t producing the right results, we take the hard road and become harsh (and we feel very righteous about it). It seems to be our fatal flaw. Now, I am not at all using this as an excuse for my bad behaviour. Just because my personality type struggles in this arena does not mean that I am slave to it. Rather, I hope to see Jesus redeem this part of myself and use it for His glory.
Last week I gave you a list of five things that make my heart sing. This week, I’m moving in the opposite direction to give you a new list – five things that get on my nerves. Each of these five things hold great potential to bring out the hard side of my personality. These are the things I struggle to let go, the things that most annoy me, the things that I sometimes feel I have no choice but to deal with harshly.
I think this one gets to me the most because I highly value sincerity and authenticity in myself. I have no need to present myself any other way than as who I am – a broken sinner redeemed by the grace of God. I can’t stand it when someone stretches the truth for the benefit of themselves or tells lies for the downfall of another. Surely we can all respect ourselves and each other enough to be real and genuine?
If we are all human, all created in God’s image, then we all deserve respect. I’m not talking about awe and reverence here; just common decency. We all hate it when someone speaks to us in a condescending way, when we are unappreciated or when we are insulted behind our backs. It’s important that we all see the value of each other and speak and act in ways that we ourselves would find respectful. Who cares if he’s of a different race or gender, the president, a criminal, a child or homeless? Nothing we do undermines our value in God’s eyes, therefore who are we to treat each other in any other way than as people loved and treasured by the Almighty Creator?
This one brings out a different side of my hard nature. Instead of seeking confrontation like I do with dishonesty and disrespect, I move towards stubborn ignorance. You see, I’m an easy-going person. I don’t stress over the details; I look at the big picture. I give of my best within my personal limits, and expect grace where I am lacking. Therefore, when someone decides to leave the church because we served the wrong kind of tea, it bugs me. If someone suddenly goes cold towards me for an unknown reason, I shrug my shoulders. Where usually I would seek harmony, I don’t. I leave the ball in your court. The thing is, some things are simply not worth ruining relationships over. If you are unhappy with someone, it is your responsibility. You either forgive and move on, or deal with it (face to face). If I don’t know what I did to upset you, you better believe that I’m not going to spend all my time and energy agonising over it.
Every person is on their own journey. They have their own struggles, their own stories and their own experiences. As Christians, we are all on different levels in our relationships with God; different stages of sanctification and growth. Why, then, do we judge each other so quickly? Why do we feel the need to speak badly of someone’s choices when we do not fully know their reasoning? We all need grace. So much of it. And God is forever pouring it out onto us.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in making excuses for sin. We are sinners and we need Jesus’ help in overcoming sin in our lives. But if we are all sinners, then we are all going to mess up, and the last thing we will need is for others to rain judgment upon us. Yes, there is place for confrontation. Yes, there is need for help when we are blind to our own faults. But there is also a great need for love and grace and mercy.
This particularly gets to me in the realm of parenting. Mothers have become so judgemental of one another. You’re criticised for starting solids, you’re criticised for waiting. You’re criticised for having a C-section, you’re criticised for having a water birth. Here’s the truth – we are all trying to do the best we can for our own children! None of us knows the best way to parent. We all make mistakes. Let’s give each other grace to do what we see fit with our own children, and encourage each other rather than judge.
5. “Christians” (please note the inverted commas)
This last one really bugs me. I’m not talking about the bride of Christ here. No. I’m talking about those who say they love the Lord and speak of all the good things God is doing in their lives, yet go about their daily lives dragging His name through the mud. I’m talking about those who see no need to love the church, who cling to their sin that sent Jesus to the cross and are unwilling to commit to any kind of service. Yes, there is grace and patience and love for these people. But at some point you have to ask, are these sheep or goats?
Writing all of this out has convicted me. I can’t help but think of all the times I have done and been these very things. Oh, praise the Lord for his mercy and strength! Thank Him for His continuous work in our hearts and lives. May He continue to mould us more into the likeness of Jesus.