The concept of knowing ourselves is kind of odd. I mean, who knows you better than you?! The funny thing is, life has a way of making us question, “who the heck am I?!” I’m not just talking mid-life-crises (or quarter-life-crises or new-mom-life-crises… a very real thing, I’m learning!) The most famous psychologists throughout history built their reputations searching for a way to explain this quest for self discovery. We were intricately created by an incredibly creative God and we’re confusing! Right?! Just when we think we’ve got a great handle on things, we enter into a new season full of it’s own challenges and different circumstances and great opportunities for growth… that feel… uncomfortable. Growth equals change and change is hard! The reality is that this constant development creates a constant challenge to work towards a relationship with ourselves. It’s either going to be one of acceptance, embrace, and GRACE because we know that -in spite of the goals we have yet to master and unchanged by the areas of self actualization we’ve already conquered- we know who we were created to be and we know who God’s word says He became on our behalf. OR, it’s going to be painful. Sometimes both. Because we’re imperfect and the landscape we’re constantly navigating and adapting through is broken. It has to start with a foundation in the one who’s given us an identity that will outlast this world, but thank you, Jesus, there are people who have been gifted with incredible insight into understanding ourselves here and now. There’s wisdom in taking advantage of those tools and if you haven’t dug into them yet, now’s the time!
As a Psychology major, I’ve always been a little nerdy about personality tests and types. It all started with the original, Myers Briggs, 4 letters (Here’s one option to take the assessment for yourself, if you’re interested!) I’ve always loved learning about my personality and having the words to put to tendencies and thought processes. Over the years, I’ve come across so many great styles aimed at helping us get to know and understand ourselves better. The most popular test changes with time and trends, but the importance of knowing ourselves stays the same. It’s not just personally helpful to gain insight into our personalities! Understanding what makes you tick can help you be a better coworker, significant other, friend, mom… the list goes on! When you have a solid understanding of your world view, needs, and the heart behind your actions, it helps you to lean into your strengths, be proactive in areas that challenge you, and conduct yourself with intention in your relationships.
Maybe the most meaningful experience I’ve ever had with these types of assessments is the Prepare and Enrich program Jordan and I went through as part of our pre-marital counseling. Our marriage is the most important earthly relationship in my life and taking the time to learn about how our backgrounds and mindsets impact our hearts and worldview set us up for success in a way I’m so thankful for. Even today, when conflict arises because we are on completely different pages, we can point back to the information we gained in that curriculum before our wedding and work towards understanding each other. Pursuing a greater understanding of ourselves and one another has been one of the best tools we have for communication in our marriage and I really believe it has played a part in my ability to say that my husband is my best friend and we get better at loving each other every year!
Another assessment that has had HUGE impact on our marriage is The Five Love Languages! You may have heard me talk about my love for this one before… You can read a post on the topic that I wrote a while back here 🙂 If you’ve never taken this one, I highly encourage you to here! Do it with your significant other, take it with your kids; knowing the needs of your loved ones and how to love them in the way they best receive love is a relationship game changer! If you want to dive even deeper into this one, you can find The Five Love Languages book here! Bonus: There’s also The Five Love Languages of Children AND The Five Love Languages Singles Edition! Such good stuff!
Using personality assessments has become popular in the work place over the last several years and I’ve taken a few different tests in professional settings. By far, my favorite has been the Strengths Finder. This assessment does require a code that comes with the purchase of the Strengths Finder 2.0 book, but I’ve found that work places appreciate the ability to identify and communicate your strengths using this resource. So if you are in a season of looking for a new job or have interest in making a change, this may be worth the investment to you! They also have a leadership book called Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow. I haven’t read this one yet… but it’s on my list! 😉
This leads me to Wednesday night. I decided to take the Enneagram assessment for the second time. The first time I found my Enneagram type it wasn’t quite as buzz-worthy as it is now and it didn’t stick with me. These days everyone on instagram is posting fun Bingo games of their Enneagram Type and chatting about themselves in this typing context and I got tired of feeling left out. (If you’re already a fan of the Enneagram and want to dig deeper, this is a great read on the topic!) So here I am, taking it again! I was scrolling through the questions and asked Jordan, “do you think I’m an optimist?” Then I found out my results and proceeded to point out all the negative aspects and weaknesses of that personality type. So I’ll just let you guess what his answer to me was. 😉 This assessment nails it on the head more than any I’ve ever taken. I love the way it speaks to the strengths and interpersonal workings of each personality. I don’t love the way it nails the weaknesses, but I’m grateful for it! You know what the coolest part is? Sure, your number and wing is a label, but you know what it isn’t? Final. The non-optimist in me leaned hard into the description that people with my personality are desperate for outside validation (hello, “Words of Affirmation” love language friends!) I became immediately discouraged about the weaknesses pointed out behind a “performer” or “achiever” title. Thankfully, my husband was there to shed the light of truth on those insecurities just as immediately: you are not those things. And what’s more, God’s word says “His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our weakness!” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Potential for the negative side of the personality traits revealed may exist in me. Without Jesus, I might even fall for them. (Even with Him, I sometimes do.) Here’s the thing, I’m not a slave to my weaknesses and challenges and sin and failure. Because I have accepted Jesus and His power to overcome those negative tendencies and habits of the imperfect person I am. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
So do we throw out these earthly assessments because we are eternally focused? No, the opposite! We’re all somewhere in between the messy, beautiful business of claiming our new identify in Christ while continually denying our imperfect, earthly selves until the day that we are completed in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) Pursing greater understanding of our hearts and minds allows us to better acknowledge our need for grace and accept the help that the Holy Spirit offers us. If you’re asking God to reveal the areas of your heart that need healing and renewal, give your character traits and tendencies a deeper look! If you want to love your people like Jesus does, spend some time getting to know your areas of gifting and spaces for growth.
If nothing else, I’ll tell you right now, taking an assessment side by side with your significant other is a GREAT conversation starter. Have a coffee date with the only purpose being to learn more about each other and yourselves together by taking an assessment or two! Next week is valentines day! What better time than to learn how to love each other better?!
Below is a new love language chart I made just for fun 😉 (You can find a few old versions here!) In honor of loveee week, take the test together, fill out this chart, and hang it somewhere you’ll both be reminded to love one another well next week. Hope it blesses you!! Now I’m off to enjoy our snowless “snow day,” – if you haven’t heard, most of the NorthWest is under several inches right now and we have NONE! – but I’m holding out hope that this storm that was promised to us is still coming…how’s that for optimism?! 😉