Tag Archives: individuality

A Look at How I Journal

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old journal stackWhen most people find out that I keep a journal, their response is along the lines of: “Wow, that’s impressive; every time I’ve tried to keep a journal it just hasn’t worked.” It’s always an interesting response to me, because I don’t believe a person can “fail” at journaling. It’s something you do for yourself: recording whatever you want to, however you want to, whenever you want to. There shouldn’t be any pressure to make your journal anything but the space you want it to be for you.

In the spirit of that, I wanted to share how I personally use my journal. Not simply to give you ideas, but also to encourage you about how limitless, personal, and valuable a practice it can be in your life.

What I Write

There are a few things I (currently) record in my journal through words and writing.

Gratitude lists. If you’ve known me for nearly any length of time, you know that I don’t shut up about gratitude [and if you didn’t know that, you can read this]. Cultivating a grateful heart has completely changed my life in the best ways. The only thing that is a guarantee for me to journal every day is a list of the things I’m grateful for throughout the day. Writing these lists is the highest form of self-care for me, and re-reading them over time is a delight all over again.

When I wake up, I write the day’s date, pen the words “Thank you for:” in the corner, and start bullet points down the side of the page. I fill in the list as things come, or in a moment when I need to focus on building up the good. Sometimes the list will fill the page, other times I’ll draw a dotted line to make it a separate column from something else I’m putting in. I don’t have a minimum or maximum daily count; I just let it happen naturally and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised.DSC00314

Scripture reading log. I don’t follow a reading plan. I tried to in the past, and sometimes it worked for me, but often the plan would ask me to read too much in one sitting, or would make studying scripture feel like something to check off my to-do list instead of something to pour myself into. Right now, I simply read one chapter of the Bible a day. There are some days I don’t read the Bible, such as when I had pulled a near-all-nighter doing homework in college and could feel my eyes closing but was still reaching for my Bible when I heard clearly in my spirit: ‘Tessa– go to bed. Your mental health matters to me. We talked today, it’s fine.”

I decide which book to read by alternating between the Old Testament and New Testament in their orders. Recently I finished reading Numbers, and I am now reading Matthew; next I will read Deuteronomy, then Mark, and so on. If it’s a more difficult book to read, such as the books of the Law, I will also read a Psalm.

In terms of recording my scripture study, I pen a bracket and the name of the book and chapter I’m reading that day. As I read, if something stands out to me, if I have thoughts, or if something confused me and I did some research, I will write notes on those things or even process them through writing. Once I’m done, I pen the other bracket at the end. Sometimes, there are days I read the chapter and simply don’t have anything to say about it. In those cases, I will still pen the other bracket after the book name and chapter, so I remember I read it. It’s okay to not “get something” out of scripture every time you read it; desire to learn is already a delight to Him.

“Proper” journal entries. When I have a lot of feelings I need to sort through or when something happens in my life that I want to remember, I write a journal entry that resembles what most people probably think of when they picture journaling: straight up writing, stream-of-consciousness.

I think what intimidates most people about keeping a journal, what makes them feel like they’ve “failed” to keep theirs, is that they imagine they need to write entries like this every day. I definitely don’t write entries like this every day; I only write them when I want to, when I have something to say or process. If I tried to write entries like this every day, I would probably start getting discouraged and feel like my life was boring! They’re helpful and enjoyable when they’re written out of desire rather than duty. I just write what I care about; it isn’t for anyone but myself, so there’s no pressure.

Drafts. Occasionally, if I want to write something for my blog but am unsure about how much of my personal story and feelings to include, I’ll write the first draft in my journal. Sometimes it truly is a first draft. But sometimes, once I’ve gotten it all out in my journal, that’s where it stays, because that ends up being the best place for it to live. Starting blog posts in my journal has become a healthy habit for me because, to be honest, I’ve probably avoided some conflicts by doing it.flowers and journal

Book notes. Every once in a while, I will read a book so impactful that I want to take notes on it. When that’s the case, I write the name and author of the book, then below that I’ll record quotes or what I’m learning. When I stop reading for that sitting, I might write down which chapter(s) I read in case I want to find something in context again. I draw a little swirly line to separate my book notes from any other journal entry that might go on that page. It’s interesting to re-read later and see how my book notes have similar themes to my regular journal entries and scripture studies from the same timeframe.

Beginning-of-the-year thoughts. I don’t really set goals at the beginning of the year, but I do like to dedicate the first page of the year to writing out a few hopes for it. If I start a new journal in the middle of the year (which is a guarantee for me because I fill them with so much), I rewrite those hopes on the first page of the journal as a reminder.

Calendar notes. I have a calendar on my desk and do not at all ask my journal to function that way, but I do like to make a note of holidays, birthdays, and milestones next to the day’s date, just so I can easily remember if I look back.

[I also use a prayer journal and a poetry journal, but I like to keep those separate from the rest of my writing.]

How I Decorate

A colorful, thrown-together journal might not work for everyone, but it adds some extra sunshine to my life to be able to decorate my pages. Most of my decorations end up serving a purpose, too! I use a few different things.

Quotes. I’ve always collected quotes from anywhere I find them, so incorporating them into my journal pages makes a lot of sense for me, and also makes it a bit easier to find one if I want to go back to it.

I write them on any blank spot on the page I’m currently using. I prefer to use fun gel pens or markers, but if I only have my simple black pen with me I don’t mind using that, either. Cursive hand lettering looks pretty regardless of the pen you’re using.

I don’t really go looking for quotes to add in, because I regularly find a good amount that leave an impression on me in everyday life– from songs I hear, tweets, Pinterest, books or blog posts I read (I don’t often take notes on whole books like I mentioned earlier, but sometimes there are just lovely lines, aren’t there?), movies I watch, Tyler Knott Gregson’s poetry blog (swoon), and anything else relevant for me at the time.

Photos. At the end of every month, I look through my photos and print out a few highlights from that month to make a page or two into a mini scrapbook. I write “[Month] Moments” at the top of the page, arrange the photos to my liking, attach them with regular scotch tape rolled on the back, then add any little commentary I want to below the photos. Sometimes I won’t have a photo from something that happened, so I’ll bullet point those moments somewhere on the page. If there are photos from a particular event and I also have a little memento from it, such as a concert ticket or wristband, I like to pair those together.DSC00457DSC00323

If I have strips from a photo booth, I like to add those into my journal, too, but I probably wouldn’t wait until the end of the month. I would instead just add them when I got them, on the journal page from that day. I do the same with movie tickets.

Apart from my monthly scrapbook page, I regularly add in a random photo or two to most of my journal pages, simply because it brings me a little burst of joy; I’m very visual and love having lovely images around me. These random photos aren’t usually my own, instead I scroll through my Pinterest and find a handful that I want to print out. I print them wallet-sized on regular office paper from my home printer and save them in an envelope I’ve attached to the back page of my journal (if the journal doesn’t have a built-in pocket) until I want to use one. Sometimes the photo fills in an empty space on the page, other times I add the photo first and work around it. How I execute all my creative journal additions depends on my mood, which I like, because my feelings seem to be reflected on the page visually even if I didn’t write a journal entry about how I felt.journal spread photos

Washi tape, doodles, & stickers. These things generally serve as space fillers and just add a nice bit of color and interest to the pages.oooooooooooooo

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my journal, and that maybe you’ve even found a spark of inspiration for your own. Don’t succumb to any pressure you feel to be a daily writer, or make every page a work of art, or do anything a certain way. Just do it for you.

Do you journal? What works well for you? What about it makes you happy?

Thoughts from Being 10 Months Porn-Free

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I didn’t plan on this today; I thought maybe I’d write something about how I was doing once I reached the one-year mark. But today is my ten-month mark of being pornography-free, and I have a lot of thoughts about it. I spent some time in my journal last night, wrestling. I would like to share that journal entry.

This month was probably the hardest temptation-wise out of all ten so far. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had to be extra proactive and cautious with myself lately. I fought for this month.

Here’s what gets me: in ten months of freedom, you’d think I would know what was working, would know why I’m doing well and what got me here. But I really don’t. And people ask me, and it feels weird to not have any answers.

I don’t want to invalidate my addiction story; I truly did do things I didn’t want to do, repeatedly/routinely, and I still face repercussions. It was real. But I also don’t want to tell people that grace, candor, and hard work will cure their addiction. I know it is not that simple. It’s just all I can pinpoint that has contributed to my own recovery. I really do not know how I got here.

Though I am so grateful for the way things have worked for me, I understand not everyone who does the same things I’m doing fares the way I somehow have. I don’t have the explanation for that. I fully believe God heals and restores all who come to Him, that He is strength in our weakness, that He shows absolutely no partiality. I trust His timing for everyone. I just don’t know why some of us find visible healing sooner than others, why the timing varies from person to person. Or why I get to be one of those who is seeing my healing already.

Not that I don’t still face temptation, as this month especially has proven (though I can’t exclude the other nine, either). I do face temptation, often. I don’t have it “easy.” But I know I have it easier than many. Maybe I caught my addiction in earlier stages than most who enter recovery.

tiny buds and bloomsI think that’s what I want to stress most: recovery doesn’t stop.

“Porn addict” is in no way part of my identity, and never was. But it’s something that has been/is part of my life. And recovering from being a porn addict and remaining in that recovery? It is an almost guaranteed lifelong process. This is something that will probably always be part of my life. I believe it gets better. But as long as I live in this skin, I have potential to act out of it and I have a lot of choices to make.

I truly do believe in full recovery. I am just not naïve enough to tell anyone, including myself, that there’s a point of arrival. God heals, and He also doesn’t take away our freedom of choice. It’s constant; it’s maintenance; it’s abiding. And I am also not so privileged as to believe people who do what I’ve been doing are guaranteed to see the same outcome I’m seeing. It is different for everyone. Honestly, I really wrestle with that sometimes. Timing is so beyond us, and I don’t understand it.

I think finding the balance of celebrating where I am while commiserating with those in an overwhelming place in the struggle is something I will have to work through for a while. Today, I don’t feel like celebrating, though I know it would be okay for me to. I know the highs and lows of this process, and I want to honor everyone in every stage of it. I am still learning how.

I’m so grateful for these ten months. I don’t take it for granted. I know it’s a gift I don’t deserve, one that puzzles me to be in possession of sometimes.

To my brothers and sisters who are in recovery– be it day one, month ten, or year five– you are in the midst of something holy. He is proud of you. He is working in you. He is there in the mess of the process with you, day by day. And if you have to start over again? Nothing about this changes. There is nothing you can do to change the love He has for every bit of you. Lean into that.


[This video on recovery/sobriety is so eloquent and echoes a lot of my feelings, and also carries some solid encouragement. I highly recommend it.]

On Insecurity & Contentment (Or, When Clichés Tell The Truth)

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DSC03824Growing up, I was never really too down on myself. Because I was convinced make up, hair dye, following trends, and the like were all pointless (maybe even bad),  I had to be content with myself the way I was. Of course I still had insecurities, but for the most part I just knew I was different and that I had to be genuine about myself. I didn’t really focus on my appearance that much.

The past year or so, I’ve grown in terms of how I view myself. I dyed my hair to a color I loved and learned how to take care of it; I collected a few little make up items and liked what they could do; I started dressing a bit more like a grown up version of myself (which is still pretty colorful and wild, let’s be real). Because I was starting to actually view myself as an adult, I was learning that I was in charge of myself, and that there were new worlds I could explore. I’ve been enjoying these worlds a lot, for the most part.

I’ve never really been concerned with being more relevant. But lately… I have.

I wonder if it’s because I entered these new worlds, worlds that encourage self-improvement and high standards I’d never sought to meet before. Without make up/hair dye/whatever, if you aren’t keen on how you look, you can’t really do anything about it. So you learn to accept it and live with your focus placed elsewhere. With those things, however, you can change a lot about what you don’t like. It’s really nice. But if you use them and still don’t feel great about yourself, it stings more. Because you tried to hide the insecure places, and they still peek out and bother you… maybe even make you feel inferior to those who do what you’re doing but seem successful at it.

I feel similarly about exercise. I wasn’t regularly exercising until about six months ago, and now I feel like it’s a hugely important duty for me to maintain my body, or even to make it better. Because exercising has improved my shape a little, and a few people have even noticed. Sometimes I notice, and get excited about it. But now I have this fear of not being able to keep it up. I started exercising purely because I wanted to get a better grip on my struggles with anxiety; I didn’t expect any of this to come with it.

I didn’t really deal with these feelings and fears before. But now I do. And something else has come with it, something that is devastating me: comparison.

I find myself looking at old photos and getting annoyed or even mad at my past self for her weight, which was never really noticeably bad. But worse than that: I look at other women and see things I wish I had… and things that I’ll judge them for having. Because I’m more self-conscious than I was before, I am now more apt to see issues in others and be a more harsh, judgmental person. I compare myself to them, wanting what they have, and I compare them to me, thinking they should want what I have. I hate seeing this in me, and I hate letting you see it; it’s embarrassing and painfully vulnerable. But it fully convinces me that judgmental, cruel people truly are just insecure people who want to feel better inside. People always say that, but I never saw the reality of it before it became my reality.

Dang.

Part of me wonders if I started a lot of this because I fell for someone who seemed to live in such a glittering world, and I wanted to measure up. I didn’t want to be invisible or unsightly or subpar; I wanted to be beautiful and noticeable… to be good enough for his world. And maybe I began tearing down other women in my head because I didn’t want to compete with them, because I had no hope in winning against them. What stupid games we play, thinking anything in life is a competition we have to beat others in. Thinking love is something we win from people.

Yesterday, I liked how I looked, so I took a few photos. Then I saw photos of other gorgeous women, and I didn’t like mine anymore. I met the reality of another platitude– comparison took joy from me.

I think I’m sharing these things with you just to show you how true those platitudes are. Because I’ve heard them my whole life, but I’m just now seeing them manifest. And wow… damage happens when you don’t see or truly believe in something that’s happening inside you.

When I’m alone, just focusing on enjoying what I have and being grateful, I like myself. It’s when comparison and standards come in that I begin to doubt and get anxious and defensive. I have to focus on gratitude. Gratitude for this body I have to live in; for a lifestyle that really works for me; for fun ways to explore expressing myself; for the beauty other women possess; for the unique images all of us get to carry that are a piece of the image of God; for the worthiness of the individual; for people who build others up; for the ability to compliment instead of compete. It is in gratitude that contentment will live and thrive.

So, thank you, Father, for all of those things. And that you like us even when we can’t like ourselves.

[Listen]

MBTI: What It Isn’t, How to Find Your Type, & What Those Letters Even Mean

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mbti for humans p1I’ve been independently studying the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) for a while now, and my excitement over it has not diminished. I love human beings and how unique we all are, and MBTI has helped me grow in understanding. I think it allows us to better appreciate ourselves and those around us. I am very excited to spend a few weeks talking about what I’ve learned through it with you!

What MBTI Will Not Do for You

I know many people are uninterested in MBTI (occasionally even repelled by the idea of it) because they know they cannot be tied down to one of sixteen personality types; they are an individual and cannot be placed in a box. And I so agree! I hate the idea of telling anyone that they cannot be or do something, or that they must be a certain way. I don’t believe MBTI wants to tie you down to a type, or remove your individuality, or explain you away. You are a complex masterpiece that you will spend your entire life learning to understand. No one can sum you up. Be proud of that.

The term “personality type” bothers me, and I wish instead we could use “function pattern” or something of that nature, because it would be much more accurate. The four letters in your type do not define what your personality is like; instead, they describe the order of the functions your brain most commonly uses to process information. The order of functions will often result in certain personality traits, but not necessarily. No one is a textbook illustration of their type. We are hand-crafted and one of a kind. We are all exceptions to the rules, and that is one of my favorite things about humanity.

I study and share information about MBTI for two main reasons:

  1. I love knowing more about the way I work. Learning about my thought process and my tendencies helps me to utilize them better. Because I know what I gravitate toward doing and thinking, I have more clarity in overwhelming situations and can actually give myself room to do what I need to, maybe even help myself process more efficiently. I also like that knowing my functions reminds me that the way I process is not wrong. It might be different from the way many other people work, but that’s okay, because it’s the way I operate the best. MBTI has helped me settle into myself a little more.
  2. I also love being able to better understand other people. When I know someone’s personality type, it helps me to interact with them in a more compassionate, informed way. Knowing that my mom uses her “brainstorm” function last while I use it second, and that she uses her “safety” function first while I use it third, has helped me so much in being able to communicate ideas and establish plans with her. I’ve learned that usually people are not doing things wrong, they’re just doing them differently than I do; they’re operating in the way that works best for them. I can’t even relate to some functions, and that is so cool to me. We’re all so unique; you have things I need, and I have things you need. We get to figure life out together!

If you’re still not convinced that this is something worth your time, that’s totally cool and I’m still so glad I get to live in a world that hosts your unique presence. But if you’re ready to dive into a few introductory lessons and resources to utilize what MBTI has to offer, I am so ready share!

Learning Your Type

First, two quick tips for when you take any MBTI test:

  1. Answer with your natural tendencies in mind. I’m an organized/structured person on the outside because I was raised to be, but it’s an effort. I am actually very adaptable/spontaneous and the process of planning things is still the bane of my existence. Be aware of your tendencies; see if they are a little different from your learned behavior.
  2. Don’t linger over a question too long. Often your gut choice will say the most about you.

There are a few methods I regularly recommend to help you figure out what your type is:

  1. The 16 Personalities Test. This test is free and in-depth. I’ve found it to be one of the most accurate tests I’ve taken; it was the first to give me the INFP result, which I am now confident is my true type. Once you get your result, the website will show you a detailed description of the type and how it manifests in various areas of life. You may not relate to 100% of it, but most of it should feel accurate and relatable to you. If not, you might have been mistyped. Not to fear, though, because there are more resources out there for you! Such as…
  2. John’s Personality Test. This test is shorter, with randomized questions, so there’s more of a possibility for it to be inaccurate, but I like it because it tells you your top five results with the percentages you showed for those types based on your answers. It also gives you a pie chart with the values you expressed. If you seem to fluctuate between a few types, this might be a helpful thing for you to try out. Maybe take it a few times to see if there’s a pattern. [This website has some great information apart from the test, too.]
  3. Charts! Honestly, you can explore Pinterest and find loads of information on the types. Although I recommend you check your sources to see how accurate that information might be; is it research from an MBTI or psychology blog, or is it a stereotype from a teenager’s tumblr? I personally enjoy a good stereotype chart, I think they’re clever (the Disney villain stereotypes? Yes!), but I almost always read them purely for fun. This chart is one I’ve found to be the most helpful in nailing down someone’s type (I actually found my mom’s with it!). Just read the descriptions for each letter and see which you find yourself relating to more.

Do not feel downcast if you still aren’t sure of your type after going through multiple tests and methods. The whole point of MBTI is learning more about humans; if you’re discovering something, even if your don’t know your four letters, I’m still excited for you, and you should be, too.

Understanding The Letters

There are four letters in each type that represent your functions. The chart I linked to above explains them very well, but I can briefly share what they mean in generalities:

  1. Your first letter refers mainly to the way you refuel your energy and to the format in which you dominantly process. You could have an E, which stands for Extroversion; this means that you get your energy from being around other people and often process things externally, looking to your surroundings. Or, you could have an I, which stands for Introversion; this means that you get your energy from retreating to be by yourself and often process things internally (in your thoughts and possibly a form of writing), looking inside yourself. [Side note: I am aware that ambiverts exist; I actually am one! But in MBTI, the terms “extroverted” and “introverted” do not solely refer to energy intake. Because I know I live so internally, I accept introversion into my type.]
  2. Your second letter refers to the way in which you take in information and observe the world. You could have an S, which stands for Sensing; this means that you typically rely on your physical senses of touch, sight, smell, etc. to inform you, and that you like for things to be tangible and established. Or, you could have an N, which stands for iNtuition; this means that you typically listen to your gut instincts and can sense the atmosphere around you, and that you are fascinated by concepts and possibilities.
  3. Your third letter refers to your decision-making and to the way your brain handles what is fed to it. You could have a T, which stands for Thinking; this means that you are naturally objective and logic-based when handing choices, and that you deeply value the facts. Or, you could have an F, which stands for Feeling; this means that you are naturally sensitive to what your choices would entail for yourself and others, and that you deeply value harmony.
  4. Your last letter refers mainly to the way you organize yourself and interact with time and structure. You could have a J, which stands for Judging; this means that you are structured and methodical, and value a plan and established rules. Or, you could have a P, which stands for Perceiving; this means that you are flexible and free-spirited, and value room to try new things and be spontaneous.

It is important to realize that all of us use all of these functions. We will be dominant in one for each category, but my dominant Feeling does not at all mean I don’t think objectively; my dominant iNtuition does not mean I don’t also see the tangible world; and so on. We all carry a balance inside us.

This is where what I call “the code” comes into play. I cannot wait to share all about it next week!

In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of this week’s information, I would be more than happy to try to help you. Feel free to share any of your discoveries with me!

“They’re Not a Christian Because _____”

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DSC09659“That person says they’re a Christian, but it doesn’t seem like it, because they–”

Wait. Can we talk for a second?

What makes someone a Christian? We could have different perspectives on this, but I think most would agree that a Christian is someone who seeks to know and love God, and accepts His grace through Jesus. That’s a Christian at the core, isn’t it? Do we agree there? If we do–

How do we make sense of these statements that so many of us make?

“He says he’s a Christian now, but he still swears all the time.”

People said that about an actor earlier this year. He had just declared himself to be a Christian, after a long internal battle ending in an encounter with God– and we weren’t rejoicing with him. We were telling him: “Not quite yet. Change your vocabulary first. Christians don’t talk like that.” We missed out on joy.

“He says he wants to be like Jesus, but he doesn’t seem to care too much, because Jesus definitely didn’t live the way he’s living.”

People have written entire articles based on that statement after reading a recent interview with a huge celebrity. We weren’t excited that he was seeking to emulate Jesus in His life, or that he believes in the power of Jesus to forgive and transform us, or that he just blatantly shared the gospel with an infinite number of people who adore him and read his interviews. All we saw was that he isn’t perfect yet.

Because we have it all figured out?

“You want to be like Jesus? Well, I’m sorry, but you aren’t,” we said. Forgetting that we aren’t, either. Forgetting that we’re all in different spots on our journeys, and deal with different struggles at different points in time, and that love and grace are what make us who we are.

“She talks about Jesus, but she also dresses immodestly pretty often.”

I said this. About a musician I didn’t even know. I didn’t focus on the positive messages she shares through her music and on social media, and I didn’t see her as a person. I just looked at her clothes and decided I knew the contents of her heart. And I am so ashamed, and deeply sorry.

When we say, “They’re not a Christian because _____,” we are saying that something other than the love and grace of Jesus makes us who we are.

That is in direct opposition of the gospel.

The gospel tells us that our identity lies solely in the redemption we’ve been given through His love. Our identity as beloved children comes from the fact that He loves us. “They’re not a Christian because _____” tells us that our identity as beloved children is dependent on our behavior. Dependent on us.

And I don’t ever want my interactions with anyone to become a vessel for that false gospel.

If your theology is different from mine; if we don’t think the same way concerning social issues; if your lifestyle is unlike the one I live– our Savior is still no different. Christ came for all. If you know and love Jesus, we’re siblings, and I love you right where you are, the wholeness of you. And so does He.

May we never forget who we are.

On Myers-Briggs & Personhood

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type talk and feetI am fascinated by Myers-Briggs. I’ve encouraged numerous people to take the test, which I later found out is actually a joke people make about INFPs (my type). I love learning about the brain and about the way people work, and I love knowing the depths of other people.

But I went a little overboard.

Myers-Briggs (otherwise known as MBTI) is a great tool for understanding the patterns our brains use to function. We call the sixteen combinations of functioning styles “personality types,” but I am learning that can be deeply misleading. When we call them our personality types, we end up subconsciously hinting to ourselves that they are part of our identity. We internalize what we read about our type and start putting ourselves in boxes. Last week, I actually stopped myself from thinking a certain way because, “INFPs don’t do that.” But… I did that.  And isn’t that okay?

“Just because I don’t like something about myself doesn’t mean it’s sin. Sometimes I worry more over those parts than the parts that are sin. Isn’t there enough of the sin to worry about without micro-managing the unique aspects of your personality?”   -Gary Morland

I’m an INFP, yes. I process things internally and look inward often; I use my intuition constantly and connect concepts together; I feel strongly and base many things on principle as opposed to logic; I observe and explore and adapt wherever I am. Those are things I do with my brain often, the functions I use regularly and naturally. But they aren’t the only things I can do. Sometimes I process externally by talking with a friend or writing things like this; sometimes I just purely experience things before I conceptualize them; sometimes I can view things objectively; sometimes I really like to have a plan and a routine. I’m not just an INFP. I’m Tessa. I’m a person. I don’t fit in a box because boxes were made for objects, and I’m not an object. I’m a person.

MBTI doesn’t intend to put people in boxes; it intends to teach us about our brains so we can have a greater understanding of ourselves and be able to grow. The types are not truly personality types as much as they are patterns of the brain functions that we naturally use, and I really love studying them. But I think a lot of us get so caught up in learning about our type that we forget to allow ourselves to be us, to be exceptions… to be different than the world expects us to be.

I know these things now, but somehow I shut them out for a while. And in the process, I think I started putting other people in boxes along with myself. When I learned someone’s type, I would lump them together with the others I knew. Yet I know other INFPs that are a lot different from me personality-wise. Our brains work similarly, so we can have great, empathetic conversations, but we’re still our own people. That is one of my favorite things about humanity, and I’m sorry if you know me personally and I’ve ever seen you as your brain functions before just seeing you, the person I love.

The world will never have someone like you again– so give it the genuine you. We don’t need more versions of other people, we don’t need a watered-down proper version of you, we need you, in your wholeness and uniqueness and brokenness. When we micro-manage and attempt to craft our own personhood, we’re losing the opportunity to be the person the world needs today, the person no one else can be– the person who is fully able to be loved completely as they are. We want to know you. Don’t remove or shut down anything that’s part of you. Allow yourself to be fully loved and alive.

You’re a person, not an object. You don’t belong in boxes.

[Insightful thoughts on MBTI and individuality: “The Biggest Misconception About MBTI Personality Types” by Jennifer Soldner and “MBTI Rant” by Miss Melody.]

Beautiful in His Eyes

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Song of Songs 4:1-8–

HE

Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built in rows of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon. Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.

What I found: Every element of her is beautiful. She is flawless. That’s usually not how we think of ourselves, is it? We often don’t see the beauty; we see frizzy hair, or not-white-enough teeth, or squishy tummies, things we consider to be our flaws. Has is ever occurred to you that God loves those things about you, too? He created you to look the way you do, didn’t He? He does everything for a reason, and that includes your appearance. He’s the best kind of artist; He put love and care into every part of you when He created you. I’m sure that you felt good in His hands as He formed you, that He smiled bigger with each added detail. When you were born, He adored you and called you very good. As you grew, He watched you blossom uniquely amid everyone else. Like we read earlier in Song of Songs 2:2, He sees you as a lily among the brambles, a stand-out. He sees you and thinks, “I adore this girl; watch out, world, she is all mine!” He loves your hair, your teeth, your tummy, everything about you. As you could see in our passage, He even likes your neck! I don’t tend to adore people’s necks, I don’t really notice them, but He does! That’s because God is the only one not blinded by sin. He sees things the way they really are, and He sees nothing but BEAUTY in you! You are His treasure. Because of that, He wants you to be kept clean, safe, and lovely. He doesn’t want anything to taint the beauty you have, inside or out. He wants you to leave the things that rub their dirt on you, those dangerous places, and to go with Him. This isn’t an outlandish request; He just shared with you the reason, that He adores you! He’s trying to save you, but you have to go with Him. You have to be willing to leave behind the things He asks you to. Remember that He doesn’t ask for no reason; these are the things that are ruining you. You’re afraid to lose them, but when you leave them behind is when He gives you what you were looking for. I think when everything is “right” with our own little worlds, we are the easiest target for the enemy because we aren’t paying as much attention (plus, we have joy, which he hates). Jesus warns us to be on guard, to keep following Him, or we’ll get lost. Are you in that place now? What area might be close to an attack that Jesus is trying to expose to you? Keep your eyes on Him, and be sure that He will never take His eyes off of you.

What did you find in our passage today?

By the way, remember not to feel awkward about reading some of these parts of the Song of Songs! He is your husband AND Father; this is completely pure.