At a parish staff (volunteers included) retreat, a consultant was brought in to determine and explain our personality types. Deacon Larry and I have taken several personality tests over the years.
Talk about two becoming one; we always have the same results. And we always end up being tagged with one “type”. It doesn’t matter if it is the Briggs Myers, the Disc Personality Test that we took in preparation for the retreat, or various others that we have taken. So when we were asked to indicate what our personality type was prior to seeing the results, we predicted the type correctly.
Our personality’s are always described with such words as domineering, impatient, strong willed, logical, skeptical, forceful, inquisitive, self assured, and well you get the drift. In a test that I had to take when my husband was in deaconate formation, for example, the types were grouped by four animals: Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver.
Guess which animal deacon and I are? No not the Golden Retriever. The Lion. This time, at the retreat, we came out as D for dominance.
Did I mention that I am always the only woman at the table with this particular trait? And it is always the smallest group.
Sigh. (Our marriage has been a gift, wonderful, and all good things. But it has never been boring.)
No wonder people used to accuse me of eating barbed wire for breakfast. This personality type might be beneficial if one is the CEO of a fortune 500 company. But when you are a Catechist, deacon’s wife, or a deacon, not so much.
The good news is that our personality types may be inborn, but that doesn’t mean that we are slaves to negative and/or unchristian traits. As Christians we are called to transform ourselves, to perfection of life, to become like Christ. Even if we have traits that make it difficult.
Deacon and I have learned, or rather are learning, to over ride the parts of our personalities that are contrary to the pursuit of holiness.
I pray a lot for humility, patience, and God’s grace to change. My daily prayer is Lord increase my heart. It may be working because this time there were nice words included in my profile: generous, charming, mature, sensitive. Deacon, being further along on the holiness quest, has always been better at overcoming his negative traits.
Me. Well I am much more stubborn.
Christians are called to grow in virtue. While we can do nothing without God’s grace, cooperation is called for on our part. In order to become holy we have to engage our human intellect and will.
As Catholics we do this by receiving God’s grace in the sacraments, especially Eucharist, and by actively accepting this grace. We do this by examining our conscience, and by changing our behaviors. We are called to persevere. To fight the good fight.
We, to paraphrase St. Paul, are called to tame our passions. This is not easy. My sinful inclinations tend to be powerful. A powerful beast.
At the same time we cannot change our personalities completely. Nor should we. God gave us our personality. After all, he chose St. Paul. And Paul admits that he was a Zealot. We just have to strive to use our traits for the good. For God and others.
It is as if the good Susan, the one who wants to become like Christ, is similar to a horse jockey. A jockey is small in stature, and low in weight (me not so much). Yet he is in charge of a powerful horse (a beast) with a mind of its own.
In order to win, the jockey, has to let the horse use all of its power and speed. The horse is usually bred for speed, power, and resilience. But if that was all that was needed for the horse to win, a human jockey would not be necessary.
The role of the jockey is to harness the power of the horse. The best jockeys know the strength and weaknesses of the horses that they ride. To win, they have to minimize their mounts weakness and maximize their strengths.
It is the same with our personalities. Maximize those traits which help us to grow in holiness. Suppress the traits that if left un-controlled lead us away from the finishing line. God’s kingdom.
It is not easy. I sometimes fail to bite my tongue. I fail to love. I think that I know best. It would be impossible without God’s grace. Without the sacraments.
And so I continue to persevere. To run the race. To get up when I fall down in the dust.
Ready for a wee chuckle. Well watch this video of a recent Geico commercial. It shows what my personality would be like if left to my own devices. A former drill sergeant as a therapist. Heh.