So, for whatever reason, I’ve always been weirdly obsessed with personality tests. I remember being in fourth grade and lying about my age on the Internet so that I could log into a website that had dozens of quizzes I could take, from the more practical (“What’s your best quality?”) to the ridiculous (“Whose celebrity dog are you?” …I don’t think I ever took a test called this. But. You get my point.) Anyway, I would spend hours taking these tests. And then I would make my friends and family do them (because that is what you do to the people you love–whine at them until they are forced to like the same things you like) and then I would compare their results to mine.
Unfortunately for these people (mainly my family), this strange phenomenon has continued for me over the years. A lot of my friends enable me, though, honestly. In the past three days, I have seen more tests from BuzzFeed (“What Hobbit Character are You?”–Elf– “What Love Actually Character are You?”–Natalie– “What Beyonce are You?”–Sasha Fierce) than I know how to handle. And for some reason, almost every single Christian college student I know can rattle off their Myers-Briggs and their top three Love Languages at the drop of a hat. It’s like, almost an introductory statement in some circles. “Hi. I’m an ENFP–heavy on the Extrovert and Feeling, medium on the iNtuitive, only slightly Perceiving. I’m tied for Touch/Words of Affirmation as my number one love language and my number two is Quality Time. My spiritual gifts are Encouragement, Faith/Wisdom/Knowledge/Teaching (also tied), and Leadership. Oh, and my name is Erin.”
Why? Why is this a thing? I can’t answer this for everyone else, but as for me, I can try. On one hand, I could just be a product of my generation–the fiercely independent individualists who need to distinguish themselves by taking these tests and being different from everyone else. But part of me thinks it’s just because these personality tests can be really useful. They can tell me a lot about how I think, how I act, as well as about others! They can help me to find good career choices, a spouse, and even ways to get closer to people and God. Not to mention the fact that I think it’s just good to know myself and what I want and like and how I operate, you know? I like having insight into myself. These tests help me to understand how God made me–different from anybody else, with my own individual strengths and passions and flaws and idiosyncrasies. It’s good, healthy, and a mark of mature adulthood to know your identity.
But sometimes, I wonder if perhaps I take my preoccupation with these tests too far. We assume that once we know someone’s test results, that we know the most important parts of who they are. And we not only do it to others, we do it to ourselves. I become very comfortable with my type. “Oh, I’m a strong extrovert, so I pretty much can never be alone. Ever.” But what about the times when I literally cannot stand being around anyone? It’s like I’m letting them tell me who I am and what I need. I mean, yes, I am an ENFP and I like hugs and compliments and all that jazz, but those things only explain me. They don’t define me. They don’t dictate my identity.
Someone I trust and love very dearly told me recently that I should focus more on finding my worth and identity in Christ. This kind of came as a surprise to me because typically when I think of people who have identity-in-Christ issues, I think of someone with very high insecurities about themselves. At first, I thought I’d never really struggled with insecurity (let’s be real, it’s usually pretty much the opposite problem–pride). But now that I’ve been thinking about it, pride and insecurity are very deeply connected. Pride is what I experience during the fleeting moment when putting my identity and worth in something other Christ (i.e. what people think of me) actually ends up making me feel really good about myself. But as soon as that changes–as soon as someone ignores a text or acts short with me–I slip into deep insecurity. “Ugh, they probably think I’m really annoying…But who cares what they think. I’m awesome.” See how that pride sneaks right back in there? I might immediately recognize the pride on the surface, but at its root is deep insecurity. It is a vicious cycle, to let anyone’s thoughts of me–even my own thoughts of myself–dictate my worth. Not everyone is going to love me. Or even like me. Even I don’t love me (or like me) all the time. But here’s the thing: because I have put my faith in Christ, I know that Jesus is always going to love me and like me unconditionally, 100% of the time, for all time. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows what I did yesterday, what I’m doing right now, and what I’ll be doing five years from now. He understands me and my actions and my feelings and my motives better than I ever will. He loves me more in a moment than anyone will love me for my whole entire life. Only in Him should I put my worth and identity. Not in people’s approval of me, or my grades, or my performance, or my friends, or my skills. Or who a test says I am.
Because, seriously, the results on these personality tests will change a lot over the years. They already have, even in the past few months–recently, I switched from an ENFJ to an ENFP (in the words of one of my stupefied Ocean City friends: “I just…I can’t believe it happened this way. You lost your J.”). These changes in my personality could be a very good thing. Maybe one day I’ll become more organized, more selfless, more patient. It could also be a bad thing. I could lose my imaginative streak or my spontaneity. The point is, while these results may vary and shift, God does not. Even when I fail and screw up and act selfishly and hurt others in a totally terrible way, God is still awesome and good. I have put my faith in Him. Because of this, my identity (not my personality) will always stay the same–my identity is in Him, and He is always, always going to be Himself.
So, Erin, you may ask, are you still going to take personality tests? To which I say: yup. Like I said before, I think they’re really useful tools to show me and guide me along the way in becoming who I am supposed to be one day (maybe not so much the Beyoncé one. Although, who does not want to be Sasha Fierce at least a little bit. Or a lot. Let’s be real). These tests might tell me about certain aspects of myself. Certainly they can’t entirely encompass the strange amalgamation of cluttered mess, shelves of books, deep loves, and shiny things that makes up my personality. But they can’t touch the most important part of me–my identity in Christ.
And so, friends, I’m going to make a proposition–for as much as we focus on our own personalities and who we are, let us focus that much more on Jesus and who we are because of Him. I know I need to do that. If you’re reading this, you probably do, too. Let’s go after Him together.
Erin Elizabeth xxoo
P.S. This is an awesome song by one of my favorite bands, Jenny and Tyler, about worth in Christ. Jenny’s singing it here, live. It’s pretty sweet. Have you heard of them? Check it out. Check it out. Check it out. Like it. Like it. Please listen. Please.