Finding Community In Variety

There’s something magical about meeting a person who “gets” you. It’s like your minds work on the same wavelength and you’re instantly talking as if you’re old friends. The two of you think so much alike that there’s no struggle to explain yourself.

This sort of connection often has to do with personality type. Our Myers-Briggs types describe the way our minds work (click here for tips on finding your true Myers-Briggs type). When we meet someone else whose brain processes the word in a similar way, we’re likely to experience a connection with them, especially if we have overlapping interests.

click to read article, "Finding Community In Variety" | marissabaker.wordpress.com
photo credit: “Camp Photo 1” by Matthew Hurst, CC BY-SA via Flickr

In contrast, when we seem to clash with someone for no reason it often has to do with differences in how we process the world. To use a fictional example from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark don’t just conflict ideologically. Their ISFJ and ENTP types are exact opposites, which means the mental process Steve is most comfortable using is the one Tony finds most stressful (and vice versa).

Many of us seek to surround ourselves with people who think like us. They’re the people we’re most comfortable with, the ones who identify with us, the ones with similar priorities and goals. Often this type of community is based around interests, such as spending time with people in your church, joining a bird watching club, or hanging out with friends at a ballgame. Personality similarities in these groups are typically accidental.

For those with rare personality types, though, it’s hard to find communities of like-minded people. Only about 30% of the population is made up of Intuitive types, and among those INTJ and INFJ are the rarest. How do you find community when only 1-4% of the world’s population thinks like you? Read more

Advertisements

INFJ User Guide

Congratulations on the procurement your new INFJ!* INFJs are highly sought after in the personality type collecting world given their extremely rare nature. INFJ spotting is a very difficult hobby, requiring forays into the deepest recesses of bookstores, yoga studios, and the internet. Keeping an INFJ in your life once you’ve found one can be even more of a challenge.

INFJs are widely considered one of the most amiable and empathetic personalities. Their minds offer a good balance of emotion and logic that helps them relate to most types of people, and they highly value commitment and relationships. As introverts, though, they have limited social energy and they don’t maintain relationships with most of the people they meet. Once you’ve found and INFJ, taking your acquaintance to the level or friendship, or relationship, isn’t simple. That is, unless you have this user guide.

INFJ User Guide | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Overview of the INFJ

The INFJ is a strange sort of creature, often compared to unicorns. Their uniqueness is a result of two things: the way their brains/personalities are hardwired and the rarity of their personality type. What’s perfectly normal for an INFJ seems unusual among humanity as a whole because so few people function this way. Understanding your INFJ’s basic functions is the first step towards successful interaction with the INFJ. Read more

The Single INFJ

It’s strange that a personality type for which “homemaker” is one of the top recommended career options has such a difficult time finding love. While not true of all INFJs, many of us are romantics in every sense of the word. We’re idealists who still believe in soul-mates. We’re eager to dive deep into relationships and prioritize the people closest to us. We’re among the MBTI types least likely to cheat in a romantic relationship.

But we also shy away from any type of deep relationship if we don’t feel completely safe. Our idealism means we often have unrealistic expectations for our (potential) romantic partners. The soul-mate type of understanding we crave is hard to find. And so here I am, turning 27 this year having been on 4 dates since I was 19 (all with guys I chose not to go out with a second time) and yet still wanting to be in a relationships (almost) just as much as ever.

The Single INFJ | marissabaker.wordpress.com
photo credit: On the platform, reading by
Mo Riza, CC BY via Flickr

So what’s a single INFJ to do? It sounds cliche, but I agree with Amelia Brown on Introvert, Dear that it’s important  to focus  on “the relationship you have with yourself.” If you’re not comfortable with yourself, you’re never going to be happy, regardless of whether or not you’re in a relationship with someone else. Also, if you haven’t taken ownership of your life, your choices, and your struggles then you’re going to have a harder time cultivating the sort of strong, lasting relationship INFJs crave. Read more

Thoughts on A Book of Celtic Wisdom

I recently read a little book called Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue. A blog reader mentioned the idea of an anam cara, or “soul friend,” in a message, and I simply had to look it up. You can usually tell how interesting I found a non-fiction book by the number of sticky notes poking out by the time I’m done reading. Case in point:

Soul Friends | marissabaker.wordpress.com

It’s not that I agreed with everything in the book, but rather that I found its musings on the nature of life and connection between people fascinating. The first quote I placed a note next to was also one that I’d read in the article that initially pointed me toward this book.

Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.” In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your inner-most self, your mind and your heart. (p.13)

I love this idea, which comes from Chapter 1: The Mystery of Friendship. I’ve been toying with the idea of incorporating it into a new title for this blog. Perhaps “Soul Teacher”? I’m not sure yet.

A couple pages after this quote, the writer takes this discussion in a direction dear to my heart. He describes Jesus as “the secret anam cara of every individual” (p. 15). Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Jesus is our “soul friend,” our most intimate companion, teacher and spiritual guide, the One to whom you can reveal your most hidden self.

Consequently, love is anything but sentimental. In fact, it is the most real and creative form of human presence. Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other. (p.15)

Can We Heal Ourselves?

I loved the first chapter of this book. It was in later chapters that I became frustrated with aspects of O’Donahue’s ideology. In Chapter 3: Solitude Is Luminous, he talks about healing wounds in a way that really resonates with me, but I feel his solutions don’t go deep enough.

It’s true we often seem “destructively addicted to the negative” because confronting it seems to difficult. “If we maintain our misery at this surface level,”O’Donohue writes, “we hold off the initially threatening but ultimately redemptive and healing transfiguration that come through engaging with our inner contradiction.” I’d agree with this — we have to get to know ourselves before we can learn, grow and change ourselves. But O’Donohue isn’t advocating change so much as self-acceptance though befriending “the negative” and recognizing “that it is not destructive. It often seems that morality is the enemy of growth” (p. 115).

There are simply some things in our lives that shouldn’t be accepted. It’s not healthy or safe to befriend the dark side, and we can’t always turn negatives into something benign just by being nice to them. I have to believe it’s possible to grow and remain moral at the same time.

And yet, O’Donohue has a point that we must beware going to the other extreme of spending too much time analyzing and dragging up our pasts. Searching for your problems over and over again won’t help you overcome them, and self-knowledge is only useful if you can act on it in some way to heal and grow. He compares people who go through endless cycles of self-analysis to gardeners who dig up their potatoes every day and replant them a different way.

People in our hungry modern world are always scraping at the clay of their hearts. They have a new thought, a new plan, a new syndrome, that now explains why they are the way they are. …. Negative introspection damages the soul. It holds many people trapped for years and years, and ironically, it never allows them to change (p. 122).

The very next line is where he lost me: “It is wise to allow the soul to carry on its secret work in the night side of your life” (p. 122). Much like he suggests befriending our negativity is the best way of dealing with it, he believes our wounds can heal themselves if we give our souls space and approach our ” hurt indirectly and kindly” (123). But our souls aren’t designed to heal themselves. They’re healed by God.

I feel this idea of self-healing is connected to the writer’s idea of the divine residing inside our souls. Though he references Christianity heavily, that’s not the only theology O’Donohue draws on — the theology of this book is a mishmash of Irish Catholicism, Celtic paganism, and mysticism. He’s not comfortable with the idea of a “faraway divinity,” and so adopts the idea that the divine is within us. He’s missing a third option, though.

Biblicaly, the divine is outside us, but He’s not far away. “The word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” and the living Word wants to dwell inside us (Deut. 30:14; Rom. 10:8). I suppose you could say the divine resides inside us after we submit ourselves to Christ, but we have to ask Him in — not start out looking inside our own souls for the answers.

You Have A Purpose

I want to share with you a passage in this book that I found hugely encouraging. It’s also from Chapter Three.

To be born is to be chosen. No one is here by accident. … Your identity was not offered for your choosing. In other words, a special destiny was prepared for you. But you were also given freedom and creativity to go beyond the given, to make a new set of relationships and to forge an ever new identity, inclusive of the old but not limited to it. … Destiny sets the outer frame of experience and life; freedom finds and fills its inner form. …

You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world. Sometimes this gift may involve suffering and pain that can neither be accounted for nor explained. There is a unique destiny for each person. Each one of us has something to do here that can be done by no one else. If someone else could fulfill your destiny, then they would be in your place and you would not be here. … When you begin to decipher this, your gift and giftedness come alive. Your heart quickens and the urgency of living rekindles your creativity. (83-84)

This past Shabbat, the speaker at my Messianic congregation talked about Leah. She was not as pretty as her younger sister Rachel and she was unloved by her husband. She probably thought she didn’t make much of an impact on the world. And yet, her example of faith is recorded in the Bible for everyone to read, and her children founded the priestly lineage of Levi and the royal lineage of Judah, among other nations. She’s a direct ancestor of notable personages like Moses, David and Jesus Christ Himself. Her life matters more than she ever knew.

You also have a purpose in this world, even if you can’t see it. This isn’t to perpetuate an idea that you’re a “special unicorn” who is better than other people. Rather, it’s to say that of us has a unique gift that’s of real value, and you have a hand in shaping how it impacts the world.

ENFJ and INFJ Friendships

There’s potential for meaningful friendship between two people of any personality type, but it seems to come easier for some. As an INFJ, there are some personality types that I connect with more easily than others (as mentioned in a previous post about ENTPs). Today, I want to talk about ENFJs.

I’m blessed to have four ENFJs in my life. My brother (who is also one of my best friends) is an ENFJ, as is another close guy friend, a girl I’ve known for several years, and a girl who is friends with my brother. I think it’s rather amazing, since ENFJs are almost as rare as INFJs — about 2-5 percent of  the population, as opposed to 1-3 percent (and male INFJs and ENFJs are much rarer than their female counterparts).

ENFJ and INFJ Friendships | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Understanding Each Other

I love spending time with ENFJs. By virtue of being extroverts they’re a bit easier to meet than other INFJs, but there’s still that instant connection that comes with feeling really understood and accepted. INFJs crave understanding and connection, and since we’re usually the listeners it’s nice to meet someone who you feel actually wants to listen to you.

In Myers-Briggs circles, we say this type of connection is a result of shared learning and decision-making processes. INFJs lead with Introverted Intuition, which is supported by Extroverted Feeling, and ENFJs lead with Extroverted Feeling supported by Introverted Intuition. We “get” each other because we see the world in extremely similar ways.

One of my favorite things about spending time with ENFJs is I never feel like we’re stuck on shallow conversation topics — they’ll dive just as deep into a subject as you want. Also, I love the fact that ENFJs actually voice the kind of random questions that pop into my head and throw them out for discussion. I suspect the ENFJs are also happy to find a conversation partner who’s willing and eager to talk about things like the origin of the universe, whether you’d rather fight a horse-sized chicken or a dozen chicken-size horses, and relationship compatibility with Disney villains.

Extrovert/Introvert Dynamic

Sometimes introverts, like INFJs, complain about feeling worn-out by their extroverted friends. We may love the fact that they help draw us out and will do the talking in situations where we don’t know anyone, but they don’t always understand our need for alone time or desire to leave the party early. This is not true of the ENFJs I know.

In general, ENFJs are friendly, gregarious and popular, but they also need down-time. They are one of the most “introverted extroverts” (along with ENTJs), and I usually find that by the time I’m ready to withdraw from a crowd, my ENFJ friend is as well. One-on-one conversations (or in small groups of 3 or 4 friends) are where I shine, and ENFJs are comfortable here as well.

ENFJs might wish their INFJ friends were a little more outgoing, but I never feel like they’re pressuring me to go past my people-limit. They want me to be the best version of myself that I can be, not to turn me into something else. Sometimes their drive toward perfection (of themselves and others) annoys and frustrates me, but I usually have to admit their advice is right (note: this is particularly hard to deal with when coming from your teenage brother).

ENFJ and INFJ Friendships | marissabaker.wordpress.comDo you have experience with ENFJ and INFJ friendship pairings? What did you think?

 

Lies That Isolate Us

Lies That Isolate Us | marissabaker.wordpress.com We know how important a relationship with God is to our Christian walk, and last week we talked about how important it is for us to also have relationships with other believers. For some of you, that comes fairly easily — you have a church home where you feel welcome, and good friends who share your faith. Many of you feel much more isolated, through. Maybe there aren’t any options for fellowship in your area, but if you’re online reading this blog post you have at least one way to connect with fellow believers, if we’re willing to take advantage of it. Peter describes our “adversary the devil” as a “roaring lion” who walks about “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). When predators like lions hunt herd animals (like the sheep we’re so often compared to in scripture), they try to isolate one before going in for the kill. One of the tools our adversary uses to do this to us if the lies we tell ourselves that keep us from seeking out fellowship — things like “I’m not good enough,” or “I have nothing to offer,” or “No one values me.”

Let Them Love You

No matter how true these thoughts feel, they are not an accurate reflection of how God sees us. You say, “I have no value,” God says you’re so valuable that Jesus traded His own life to save you.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

Jesus Christ’s was the most valuable human life ever, and that’s the price He and His Father paid for you. They didn’t do this because they “had to.” They did it because they thought you were worth it. Paul tells us that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” and He came to save you as well (1 Tim. 1:15).

 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:13-14)

Jesus said this to His disciples, but He meant it for us as well. He died for you because He cares about you, and if you’re following His commandments you have the right to claim friendship with Him as well.

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11)

Because of the love of God for us, we as His followers should have love for each other. This applies to us having and showing love, but also to us receiving love. You should be able to walk into a group of people who are following God and find love and companionship there. Sure there’ll be a few bad apples in most groups, but don’t focus on them — there’s usually more good people there who will love and befriend you if you give them the chance.

Accept Your Gifts

God loves, values and wants you, and He expects people following Him to love you as well. And that’s not where it ends. You might think you have nothing to offer God or a church group, but God tells us we’re each necessary to His family. God sees value in every life, and it is His desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). He doesn’t give up on people, and He can work with anyone who seeks Him, including you. In fact, if you turn your back on Him, you’re depriving His family of someone He thought was important enough to call into relationship with Him. You’re not doing anyone a favor by “getting out of the way” or thinking they don’t need you.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 cor. 12:7)

You might think it seems like everyone except for you has a spiritual gift, but God doesn’t say He makes exceptions in this. You do have gifts (click here to start discovering them), and He did have a reason for inviting you into His church.

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (1 Cor. 12:14-18)

This is one reason that comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise (2 Cor. 10:12). There is a wide range of available gifts, and you will fit much more comfortably into the body if you recognize your value and discover your gifts rather than trying to mimic other people. You are needed in your own unique way. If God wanted everyone to be the same, He wouldn’t have created so much variety.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. (1 Cor. 12:21-25)

God doesn’t want you to feel like you don’t fit in the body, and He doesn’t want anyone else to tell you that you don’t fit. His goal is unity, mutual respect, and genuine concern between members of His church. That’s what He wants for you, whether or not you think you deserve it. The truth is, none of us are “good enough” for God. That’s why Jesus had to die for us. Once we accept that sacrifice and repent, though, God does not intend for us to wallow in inferiority. He wants us to take the amazing gifts and opportunities He gives us and use them boldly. He wants us to take our place in His church and stop sabotaging ourselves with lies that keep us away from Him and from our brethren.