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Four Little Letters That Changed My Perspective

If you’ve never heard of the MBTI Test, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I would highly recommend doing so, and as soon as possible. In a nutshell, you answer a series of questions about your personality and what you are more prone to do in certain situations, and then you are given your four-letter type. There are 16 types, and theoretically, everyone falls into one of those types. [I’ll post a few links at the end of this post to some of the better MBTI tests for you, if you’re interested in figuring out your own type.]

I know that the MBTI test is not 100% accurate, but it is accurate more often than not, as long as the questions are answered honestly and to the best of your ability. When I was 12, I remember taking a shortened version of the test, but all I can remember was that the first letter of my type was “I,” which means Introverted. It wasn’t until more recently that I became more interested in knowing my personality type, mainly because I wondered if there was anyone in the world who was somewhat like me.

Mind as Wide as the Sky

All my life, I’ve had an overactive imagination. Thoughts that just wouldn’t shut off, no matter how hard I would try to just stop thinking for even a moment of peace. No, I don’t hear voices in my head; I’m just constantly thinking. Even as I write this post, I’ve had literally dozens of thoughts completely unrelated to this post fly through my mind like a flash of lightning.

I’m quiet and reserved on the outside, but on the inside, I’m the funniest person in the room, making people smile and laugh. I just can’t seem to bring what I am on the inside to show on the outside, and that’s something I’ve always struggled with, even when I was a child. I can form the most eloquent thoughts and the wittiest comebacks in my mind, but when I open my mouth, the words come out all twisted, or they don’t come out at all.

One last thing, then I’ll get to the point of this post; I promise. I also have an uncanny knack of being able to just look at a person and figure out what it is that they’re feeling or whether they are being genuine or not, and I’m usually right, 9 times out of 10. I observe people without even realizing it, and I can pick up on their body language, the words they’re saying (or not saying), and other little cues of the like. It’s rather like being a Sherlock Holmes, or a Miss Marple, actually; always observing the little things and asking myself why things or people are the way they are.

I’ve taken the test several times to be sure, trying to be honest each time, and I keep getting the same result.

INFJ.

I for Introverted.

N for I(N)tuitive.

F for Feeling.

J for Judging.

And from the first description of the INFJ type, it felt like coming home. Finally, someone actually knew me! It was like reading a diary of my life, just written by another person. Creative, yes. Sensitive, check. Insightful and Perfectionistic, double check. Those four little letters suddenly meant a lot to me, giving me a new perspective on why I do the little things like I do. It has been so encouraging, and it has also made me think about how I can use the quirks and functions of my personality in my walk with the Lord.

Finally, I can see the benefit in thinking about my own unique personality that God has given me, and using the things I best function at for the glory of His kingdom. I don’t feel so “weird” anymore, or that no one understands me. Now, I can work towards using the best parts of my personality to serve the Lord in new and different ways, and who would have thought that all it would take were four little letters?

Take the MBTI Test:

16 Personalities site (also has really great descriptions for each type)

Similar Minds site (just put in your gender, then take the test!)

The test isn’t infallible, so keep that in mind when you’re taking it. Otherwise, have fun, and if you want, let me know what type you are! If you are a fellow INFJ like me, check out my INFJ-Outgoing Introvert board on Pinterest.

Have a lovely weekend – I’ll be writing. NaNoWriMo First-timer right here, and I’m itching to get started!

 

Aside
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The man of true faith may live in the absolute assurance that his steps are ordered by the Lord. For him misfortune is outside the bounds of possibility. He cannot be torn from this earth one hour ahead of the time, which God has appointed, and he cannot be detained on earth one moment after God is done with him here. He is not a waif of the wide world, a foundling of time and space, but a saint of the Lord and the darling of His particular care.
-A.W. Tozer

It’s comforting to know that I’m not a foundling of time and space, but a darling of the Lord that receives His special care. Things have been kind of hazy for me when it comes to the future, and this gives me reassurance that all will come together at last.

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Heartspeak: On Being a Friend

Friendships are fragile things, and require as much care in handling as any other fragile and precious thing.
–Randolph S. Bourne

Friends are wonderful, and I am certainly not exaggerating when I say that a good friend is a lovely blessing in one’s life. I am so thankful to have been bestowed with so many of those lovely blessings, many of whom are scattered to the four corners of the globe (which is rather funny since the world is round).  Despite having so many friends that I hold very dear to my heart, at times I feel very hesitant when it comes to making new friends.

I am by no means a snob. I would say that I am generally a more accepting and trusting person than a lot of people my age, and if you disagree with my statement, I would politely venture to say that it has been awhile since you visited a high school or a college (although I have had better experiences at most colleges, to be completely honest). For many years, however, I have struggled with reaching out and making friends, and it hasn’t been until recently that I finally figured out the reason for my hesitance.

I am very good at being unavailable.

Unavailable, you might ask? How is that a good reason for avoiding friendships with other people? To tell the truth, that’s the whole point: it isn’t a good reason.

friendship

Yes, I’m there for my friends always, and I say as much to them. “Text me (although I might not answer). Call me (although I might not get your call). Let’s meet up and hang out soon (although I don’t know when that will be).” I say all of these things with the best intentions, and for the most part, I do keep in touch with my friends. Time passes, and I suddenly find myself out of touch with those people I hold most dear, and I’m stuck scratching my head, wondering how on earth did that happen?

It happened because I allowed it to happen. I started holding my friends at an arm’s length… again.

I didn’t distance myself from my friends because I didn’t love them, so what excuse do I have for my not-very-loving behavior towards them? I don’t really know, to be perfectly honest. Some of it might come from having moved around so much during my life, and not wanting to be hurt again when it came time to say goodbye to the friends I had made. I could blame some of it on my particular dislike for smartphones and Facebook (although ironically, Facebook is how I stay in touch with most of my friends). And yet, those are not really the reasons for my disconnection with friends.

I guess I’m not too sure why I have such trouble staying in touch with my friends, but it’s something that I will continue to bring before the Throne of my Father. For all of my friends that are reading this, please know that I love you dearly, each and every one of you! If you haven’t heard from me in a while, just know that I still do love you and think about you often. I am so blessed to know you all, and I pray that it won’t be long before I do see you all again, whether it’s here or Heaven! (What a day that will be!)

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Heartspeak: A Childhood Dream

I can still remember it vividly, the low wooden bookshelf that stood against the wall in the corner of my bedroom. I was 7 or 8 years old then, and that bookshelf meant the world to me. Or rather, the books it held did. Even then I loved books, and I had already read several abridged classics, like Oliver Twist and Around the World in Eighty Days. My bookshelf was also crammed with Nancy Drew mysteries and almost the whole Ramona series. Each book was a treasured possession, and I probably read each of them a dozen times.

But one row of books was different than all the rest, and they were the most precious of all. They were my missionary books, and I read them over and over again until I had them nearly memorized. My favorite books were those about Lottie Moon, Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael, and Mary Slessor. I can remember reading about their lives in foreign places like China, India, and Africa, and marveling at how they depended and trusted God in their daily lives for strength and protection. Mary Slessor and Gladys Aylward were always two of my favorites, mainly because they both adopted children that no one else wanted or cared for. Even now as an adult, I still remember those stories about the brave but ordinary single women that God called to serve in some of the most difficult places in the world.

africa1

When I went to Africa last autumn, I couldn’t quite believe where I was. Out of all of the places I had ever imagined myself being, Africa was never on the list. And yet, Africa was where the Lord made it possible for me to go, providing all of my funding out of the blue and making all the preliminary things go smoothly. I was there for two weeks, and those were the shortest two weeks of my life. I didn’t have enough time to be in the culture, or share with the people I had met. When the plane landed back on American soil, I knew that I wanted to go back for a longer time. I knew what to expect now; how to talk to the people I met and how they preferred to do things.

One of the nights while I was still in Africa, I had a realization that would have knocked me over if I hadn’t already been sitting down! It had never occurred to me until that night, that ever since I was a little eight-year old girl reading those missionary stories, I wanted to be just like Mary Slessor and Gladys Aylward. It was as if I had a little lightbulb pop over my head, and the dream that I had as a child seemed more real.

africa2

I don’t know what the next step for me is after I finish my last bit of college. I keep seeking and praying for the Lord’s guidance, and trusting Him to lead me where He wants me. But some nights, I still think about that little white bookshelf with its special row of missionary books, and about an eight-year old girl’s secret prayer that God would make her a missionary someday, too.

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Heartspeak: Prone To Wander

Trains. Planes. Cars. Bicycles. Walking. All are forms of transportation. All get you from one place to another. In my life recently, however, I have decided to add a new form of transportation to my list.

The mind.

The mind is a wonderfully complex thing, and I thank God dearly for it. It gives me the ability to imagine things and to ponder deep thoughts. It also gives me the ability to make choices, and it is in that area that I mess up most often. And most often when it comes to things of God.

I still struggle with reading my Bible. I still struggle with praying “without ceasing.” I also struggle with making good choices, even though I know what I should and shouldn’t be doing. My mind tends to wander when I start to read my Bible, and again when I begin to pray. Too many things distract me, and I start to think about current struggles and little trials that I’m having, instead of focusing on the One who gives me the strength to face those trials and struggles.

Finally, I had had enough. My heart was heavy with unnecessary burdens, and my mind was distracting me with doubting thoughts and concerns for unimportant things. Something had been tugging at my heart for a while now, and that little something turned out to be a gentle reminder from the Lord.

fruits

I needed to be reminded of the fruits of the Spirit. A simple little thing that I learned when I was a little girl in Sunday School, but it is so much more applicable now that I’m an adult. A reminder for me to examine my heart (and my mind) for evidence of these fruits in my life. For when you are a child of the Living God, these things should be evidence of that fact: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

When my thoughts start to wander away from the Lord when I am praying or reading my Bible, I glance up at the fruits of the Spirit stuck on my wall. They might be just plain index cards with washable marker-ed words, but when I look at them, my focus turns heavenward. I am reminded that only if I am reading His Word and praying to the One who created me, will I see evidence of these actions in my life.

My mind is prone to wander, but I pray now that it wanders to the heavenly Father, who is the only one able to quiet its wayward thoughts.

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Heartspeak: On Waiting & Patience Trees

I’ve decided that I’m an impatient person.

I’m always looking towards the next thing, the next dream; always a future something or other. If one is always looking into the future, then it stands to reason that a great deal of waiting is involved. Waiting for confirmation, for plans to be put in place, for the days to countdown until finally, finally, the big day has arrived.

curtain

When that day arrives, however, you happen to look back over that period of time you were waiting, and what do you see?

A lot of missed opportunities. A lot of time spent in needless and fruitless worrying. All those moments when you were too busy waiting and wondering to spend time with your family, and what is all the more saddening, to spend time with God.

Have you ever been in that place? Because that’s where I am right now. In the middle of waiting.

Somehow, in the past weeks and months of wondering about my future, I have lost some of my joy. I replaced it with waiting expectantly for what the future may hold, instead of taking joy and delight in the day God has given me to live today.

faithfulness

Great Is Thy Faithfulness has always been one of my favorite hymns, but looking back over the past little while, I haven’t been exactly trusting in the fact that our Father is faithful, even when we are not. He does care so much about us, and not just about the big things. He knows the number of hairs on our heads right down to the last freckle on a nose.

Patience is one of the fruits of the spirits, and in my opinion, it must take the longest time to grow. Perhaps it’s like a tree, taking years and years to reach it’s full height, growing just a little more every year. It weathers every kind of weather possible, and sure, a few limbs might break and it might bend a little, but it is steadfast. It relies on its Creator, trusting that He will provide the strength and the patience to go on.

I guess my Patience tree is still growing, right along with my faith as I walk with God through my life. I pray that I will be joyful and develop my patience as I wait, knowing that God answers prayer. I am so thankful that He is forever faithful and patient with me.

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Longing To Be Gone

elsewhere

When I turned twelve so many years ago, I never would have thought that I would eventually become a wanderer.

The reason why turning twelve was so important is because that year is when my family and I packed up our suitcases, put our house on the market, and flew halfway around the world to East Asia. When your family follows the Lord, you have no choice but to go wherever He might lead; you are miserable if you don’t. I didn’t want to go, leaving behind the only culture I had ever known. We had moved a few years prior to a whole new state, and I was just getting used to being there and meeting new friends. However, it wasn’t up to me to decide whether or not we should move across the “pond.”

And I am so very glad that it wasn’t my decision.

We spent three years in East Asia, and those years were the best years I ever knew or have known even now. Suddenly, the world was so much bigger than I had ever imagined, full of countless new places, fascinating people, and exciting experiences that one can only dream about. Since childhood, my favorite book had been Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, and now I was actually living in a strange new country and having adventures like Phileas Fogg! It was a wonderful time in my life, growing up as a teenager overseas. It broadened my perspective, and has changed the way I view people and situations to this day.

After three years, the Lord spoke again, and in a matter of months, my family and I touched American soil for the first time since we had moved overseas. To some degree, all of us were disappointed with having to return to the States, a place whose people and customs and even language had become quite foreign and somewhat unfavorable. Imagine my surprise at returning to my birth country and feeling more out of place among “my” people than among the millions of Asian people I had lived with and among overseas! When we finally made two more moves to various states, we ended up back in the South, where my family and I are originally from. I started college, and am now back home for the summer.

A reason why I crochet is to keep my hands and ultimately my thoughts busy. If I get too idle, my thoughts start to rove, and I find myself wishing I was any place but here. My feet are itchy and I just feel stuck. Having seen the world (Asia and recently, Africa), I want to go and do and see and be. My barely-there contentment with where I am now is hanging on by a thread, and I know I’ve got it bad when I start researching airplane ticket prices.

I want to live a life of faith; faith that God knows what He’s doing and that He’ll lead me to where He wants me to be. Lately, Africa has been nagging at the back of mind, especially since I know that I could be over there working and teaching the children Bible stories right now. I am constantly reminding myself to pray and ask God to give me clarity, but I wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t be asking Him for contentment, as well.

This summer will definitely be a learning and hopefully, a growing experience for me in my walk with God. You are invited to tag along with me; we can be surprised and amazed together at what the Lord shows me and what He is doing.

Perhaps my itchy feet can’t be cured, but I do know the cure for an itchy heart, and that is what makes all the difference.

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