Friday, May 30, 2014

What I've Been Into [the last five months]

This first half of 2014 has zoomed by. Since it's been five months, I'll just hit the highlights!

  • I spent January in Georgia with my family, mostly loving on my brand-new little niece. Everyone else was cool too.
Brand-new baby's first Christmas
  • I was taking two classes, an internship, and writing my final Master's thesis this semester. That thesis was a labor of love if I've ever done one. At the end it was 70ish pages of writing and then all the "front and end matter." I emailed it to my adviser bright and early on Easter morning and then enjoyed celebrating new life and victory in a variety of ways. My thesis was on body-theology too, and I'm really hoping to develop it more into a publishable form. Perhaps share some here? 
77 pages of my heart, going through the final edit late at night. 

  • My word for the year is "Community"  and it's like God said, "Oh? Community? I can do that!"  Last fall a small group of us were already hanging out on a regular basis, but when we were all back here by late January there was snow after snow after snow for a month solid and we all ended up hanging out together, eating soup, having french-toast feasts, playing dominoes by flashlight, and talking and chatting. We did Lent together and part of that included "sharing our stories" and somewhere in that time we became family. When someone wants to make a big dinner the answer to the question of "what time?" is just "normal time." We even took a vacation to the beach together last week and it was fabulous. Most of us are scattering at the end of summer for other places - but there are plans for "family reunions" every other year at least, and I think that's actually going to work.  I'm excited to see how God shows up in community in the second half of this year as I move to a new place.

Most of the family at the beach. 

  • I graduated seminary!  My parents came up to celebrate with me and we took a short vacation up to the Connecticut shore and spent a day walking around Boston. It was a really lovely time. 

With my parents on the Connecticut Shore

  • In film, television, and music:  Call the Midwife broke my heart in a hundred beautiful ways this season. My most-often listened to playlist was Songza's "Classical Easter Celebration" - - it was magnificent as a study/reading/writing background. On the big screen (though checked out from redbox,so not so big), I believe Philomena was my favorite.  
  • In the kitchen - my favorite simple meal discovery is lemon-dill chickpeas. You make some rice/rice pilaf, and then saute chickpeas and onions in olive oil, add dill, lemon juice, and some spinach. Pour the chick-peas over the rice and enjoy. It's got a light flavor and it's filling. I've made it about five times since discovering the recipe in a short essay I read on food, poverty,and fasting. 
  • Fashion - season changes make me want to have fun with fashion. The onset of summer has renewed my love of earrings. Check out my instagram feed for my frequent updating of which earrings I've decided to don. 

So that's a little of what I've been up to. Looking forward to the many changes life will bring me in the next few months. I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer who does this on a much regular basis. I will now go check out what other people have been up to! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Personality Type Psychology and Grace for Everyone

Ever since my 9th grade Humanities teacher plunked down a "color personality test" in front of me I've been obsessed with personality types. There is something in me that loves self-reflection. I love to figure out why I do things the way I do them, what motivates me, what scares me, what challenges me. Personality assessments give me a measuring tool for that and a wealth of information

On that color personality test, I was gold. Soon after, I discovered the Myers-Briggs Personality test. My result was ISTJ to the nth degree. Solid. Dependable. Traditions. Rules. Order.  In the world of "Enneagram" I am a 5w4 - the highlight of that for me being the intense desire for knowledge and information. 

There was something in me that wanted to make sure that I worked on my weaknesses though. A common "flaw" for an ISTJ is they are aloof or indifferent. The idea is that ISTJs operate by rules and don't find much need for areas of grey. 

I set out to soften my rough edges (and unintentionally sharpened other edges in the process). In the many years since 9th grade, I've taken the Myers-Brigg's Inventory a couple times each year. I watched percentages change and was happy because that fit with my new found abilities to see shades of grey, or my love of travel and change. But, ISTJ was always still the result. A couple years ago I started feeling like I wasn't an ISTJ, but I was still testing as one. Then a few months ago I took the test one more time, and this time it was INTJ. Only 2% into the "N" range instead of the "S" - but for the first time in my life it was a different answer. The stats say that INTJs, especially female INTJs are one of the rarest personality types - but our intense love of knowledge (and perhaps navel-gazing?) means that there is way more info out there on this than the ISTJ. 

Click to Zoom
I had a small identity crisis and then started reading about INTJ. You can go research all the various nuances of what it means to be "N" instead of "S"  if you'd like, I won't bore you with them here, but reading about INTJ was like having someone on the inside of my head who finally understood me.  It was quite nice that this "shift" happened for me this year since I am living in a community of people also obsessed with personality types. If you show up to our house for dinner, chances are you'll be asked what your "type" is and if you don't know, we're pulling up a quiz on the phone and making you take it. We're totally lovable. 
Some traits typical of INTJ that really resonate with me are:

  • :seeing complex patterns easily, or, in a more abstract way - seeing the big picture
  • :seeing/predicting various outcomes for decisions. I am rarely surprised because I've already imagined that the result could happen. 
  • :related to the above:  I prioritize and value common-sense and efficiency.  
  • :intense desire to collect knowledge
  • :awareness of both my strengths and my weaknesses, typically completely honest about both
  • :quick to lose respect for authority when they do not operate correctly/efficiently/logically
  • :highly value intelligence, loves jargon, loves words
INTJs are also apparently famous for being arrogant jerks. In the fiction world - Dr. Gregory House and Sherlock Holmes (especially from the recent BBC series) are considered to be INTJs.  Knowing this gives me the info to once again "soften the rough edges." Hopefully I mostly succeed in finding a way to be assertive in my knowledge and skills without being a jerk. The impact of Jesus Christ in my life goes a long way in tempering my personality with some redemptive grace. 

In the infographic, I identify with most of what is there. Interestingly, INTJ is the type "least likely to believe in a higher power" and I just graduated seminary. This may explain why I am so comfortable with doubt and questions. And could also explain why I highly doubt I will fit the "type with the highest income" descriptor as well ;). 

A couple things happened as I read more and more about INTJ:

1:  I let out a breath and saw myself a little differently. For whatever reason until I saw it written out as a personality type - I called my efficiency-loving brain "impatience." I called my hunger-for-knowledge and my high-demand for correct information "arrogance." I called my disregard for "authorities" who failed to do their jobs adequately "disrespect."  And then all of a sudden, these were my strengths. It is good to use my God-wired brain to play to my strengths of details and big-picture, it is good to know things (and know what I don't know), it is good to demand that those who lead do so in truth and authenticity.

2. Suddenly when I could assign some of these traits as characteristic of the way that my neurons fire, it helped me to see other people in a new light. I no longer become as frustrated when people don't do things "my way" because I understand that I have this crazy rapid-fire efficiency motivated brain that processes about 300 pieces of information in four seconds,* and that's cool, but it doesn't mean that the other person's brain is wrong. There's does something else amazing that mine doesn't. (Like managing to make their hand and eye coordinate, or hearing the intricacies in music.) When I know that the "honest about my strengths, honest about my weaknesses" features is part of my personality type - then people who aren't like that aren't weak, needy, pretentious people. They are just people who perceive their strengths and weaknesses in whatever way they do and do their best to navigate a world that often demands we all be perfect.

So, what's your type?  Do you make use of personality type tools to understand yourself and your relationships with other people? 

*example of my rapid-fire brain when approaching a task

I approach a sink of dirty dishes.

In the first glance I determine the number and type of each dish and the order in which they should be washed so that they can go into the dish-drying rack in a way that maximizes space and still allows air-flow to get the dishes dry. Dishes that are touching each other do not dry.
I begin to stack and organize the dishes so that they are in the right order to be washed, as I'm doing this I am aware of both how long the task will take me and how long the water takes to heat up and I'll turn the faucet on at the right time so that it's hot about the time I'm done getting the dishes to their starting point.

Some things in my head for the order: we have four types of bowls, they each fit in the rack in a certain place. Some are the first thing to get washed, some are the last.  If there is any type of colander, then it can go underneath other things because water will drip through the holes and two things can dry in kind of the same place. If there are pans or other dishes that appear to have stubborn stains, those things need to be soaking from the beginning so that by the time I get to them they are ready to be washed easily. Depending on the amount of dishes to wash - I either clear a side of the sink to use for soaking or move the pan to the countertop with water in it. I glance at the stove and on top of the microwave, as pans and cookie sheets often get left there rather than put into the sink and I want to make sure I don't miss those.

All of this "planning" takes just a couple of seconds.

I am not "OCD" about this. If something doesn't go according to plan (i didn't see a bowl, it goes in the wrong place) I just stick it somewhere else on the rack and move on. But, my brain definitely processes that way about pretty much everything.