Courage to Understand

Courage to Understand

Discovering personality-type resembles having a hearing test to explain what you don’t know for sure. Some resist hearing tests assuming they hear well enough, or to avoid expense for something that can’t be worn, driven, eaten, or enjoyed. I had my first hearing test when I was 79 and quite by surprise.

Several ‘aha’ reactions to last week’s Courage to Speak inspired this week’s subject of understanding that leads to healthy relationships as well as satisfying choice of career, work and purpose.

I am completely the INFJ and have been sorting a lot out lately in a difficult time for me. I have returned to doing ongoing counselling rather than crisis assessment intervention. I am much happier doing counselling, as I need ongoing engagement with people, not just the one-shot interventions. L

I read the blog on Monday just in time for Tuesday a 12-hr. day in my shop. My first client was a non-stop talker. I had two other ones who talked a lot and I had to laugh thinking of how I listen and say yes or no. Thankful that several others and I had calm conversations. Thanks for your blogs, J

Even though I know I'm an INFJ, it's still so comforting, emboldening and encouraging to hear these descriptions again. Thank you. J

Thank you for explaining how a person can be. Now, I feel good about myself. Thank you for helping me know why I am like I am via Ding-Dong the clown-prop. V

As usual, seven years ago, I accompanied Jim to his annual trip to see the audiologist, to once again observe him through the soundproof booth window as he pressed a button at every beep, and repeated words that Dr. Lisa read off a list  Then she explained the print-out which indicated minimal changes. As she inspected his hearing aids she asked, “Jim, have you been working on these again?” He smiled.  I thought ‘Do birds fly’? He can’t resist repairing anything that doesn’t work right. She pointed out a particular tube that would be better for him not to try to fix. She refurbished his hearing aids good for another year.

Dr. Lisa said, “Ruth, when did you have your last hearing test?”  “Ummm, I’ve never had one, but I can hear a pin drop in the next room”, I said confidently.  To my surprise she said, “I have some free time this morning, so how about if I give you a hearing test?” I looked at Jim, and he assured her that we had time. So, I complied, took my seat in the sound-proof booth and noticed Jim smiling as the tables were turned.

Behold! The print-out indicated that indeed I had loss of hearing in both ears.  Dr. Lisa explained that even though the loss was minor in one ear the worse one would draw down the better one if I did nothing. “Hearing aids not only preserve the nerve endings and slow down normal ageing hearing loss,” she counseled,” but new technology includes a tiny computer that also teaches your brain to hear. Volume is controlled automatically.”

Since the major preference of my (ENFJ) Temperament-type is looking ahead and avoiding problems, signing on the dotted line was easy. The ‘aha’ moment was that I would once again pick up enunciations and soft voices that I was totally unaware that I was missing--a valuable investment of time and money. Information and understanding held the key. I was grateful for Dr. Lisa’s concern.

So, akin to improving hearing, most relationship differences, problems and choices may be explained as very normal behaviors arise when different personalities are mixed together. Immediate improvement is evident.   ‘Aha’ reactions as promised are exciting and valuable just like hearing results--and a lot more fun.

The first half-step for discovering one’s God-designed temperament is to decide to ‘get in the booth’, take a 30-minute questionnaire and receive a unique design ‘print-out’, which is always a positive experience. Not all siblings are the same nor are they necessarily the same temperament as their parents.  But the new understanding and appreciation is as simple and dependable as hearing aids. I’ve never had anyone who was disappointed in their unique personality. It’s usually considered a feather in their cap.

My first experience of a client’s MBTI ‘aha’ reaction involved, Tom, a college student living at home who was struggling with family relationships. He was amazed and relieved when he learned that he was an INTJ (1% of the nation) and normal. His mother who instigated the session and came with him was flabbergasted with how accurately the profile described him.  He was the only Introvert in the family; his room was next to the kitchen surrounded by lots of conversation and TV noise. His dad, an outgoing extrovert, bugged him about getting a girlfriend and wanted him to watch ball games on TV with him.  His sister teased him about the thick college books he carried around. When his mother learned that noise and conversation drained him, she suggested moving his bedroom to the back of the house.  I saw Tom after these changes were made and he was delighted and relieved with the noise level adjustment.  Another ‘aha moment’ was when his mom requested answer sheets for herself, her husband and their teenaged daughter.

The 2nd half-step is learning to blend the family dynamics of various personality-types.  Everyone likes who they are.  When Jim read my profile, he said “Boy, I’m glad I’m not like that.”  My temperament of mind-on and softheartedness was a mystery to him. He taught me how to make head logic decisions and to pay attention to facts and figures and what’s going on today. I taught him how Feeling people make decisions and Intuitives’ possibility thinking. Oppositeness equipped and enabled us to be a balanced team and cover the bases of relationships in our family and ministry. We were both structured so wanted to finish projects.

Just as the above examples suggest, when we understand our unique design, we are freed to use our God-designed preferences to carefully choose our work and purposes.  Understanding our personality-type is the quickest route to ascertaining what we’re really cut out to do best. Teaching school was satisfying, but while I was happily associating with students, teachers and staff, my deeper interest was counseling and guiding clients to appreciate their God-designed personalities and unique gifting so that they could get along with everyone and be empowered to choose and concentrate on satisfying careers.

Thinking about the importance of every one finding challenging purposes fit right in as I read a passage from the little-read (based on my personal reading) small book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 2, with its up-to-date, but primarily negative, observations, concerns and attitudes. I’m confident that all of us identify with King Solomon’s negative approach from time to time, especially this last year dealing with the Corona Virus.    

17 So, I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me...a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet that will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun… 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it… 22 with which they labor under the sun?... 24 This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness…Gen.16:9-15

This passage is not the most inspiring reading except for verses 25 and 26. Further understanding of those few verses is that some people may feel trapped between birth and death with intellectual pursuits, pleasures, work and possessions and without God, life tends to be meaningless.

Gen. 16:9-15 records a touching story about Hagar who had the courage to understand. When she became pregnant by Sarah’s husband, Abraham, she was mistreated and dismissed and ran away to the desert where the angel of the Lord found her and spoke to her. “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count. You will have a son…You shall name him Ishmael” Hagar gave the Lord a name “You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.

God knows us, understands us perfectly and constantly sees all of us. No matter what we are saying or doing, whether or not we acknowledge His presence, grace and mercy, he loves us unconditionally.