It Would Be So Much Easier This Way

There’s nothing like traveling to a foreign country for the sake of the gospel to bring out your greatest fears. As the date drew near for my mission trip to Belize, my ever-present thought was, “How can God use me, an introvert who doesn’t speak to strangers in her own church, let alone strangers in a foreign land, for His glory?”

The answer to that question will be left for another day because sharing those words during my mission trip testimony at church opened a chapter in a story I know too well.

At the end of service, I was approached by a man who is a chatty, never-met-a-stranger, extrovert. He commented that he found my self-revealing statement about being an introvert to be reassuring because he’d been wondering if I liked him and what he could have done to get on my “bad side”. I assured him that he certainly had done nothing wrong, and we had a laugh over this being an honest (as opposed to fake, get out of a relationship) case of, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

The conversation has been swirling in my head because this isn’t the first time I’ve been misjudged as upset, snobbish, or unfriendly simply because I’m quiet.

I’ve decided it would be so much easier if introductions included our Myers-Briggs personality type. Then I wouldn’t be misunderstood and grief would be spared. It would go something like this:

Hi! My name is Shelli, and I’m an ISTJ.

See? Easy-peasy. Those four little letters don’t tell you about my family, my work, my interests, my talents, my spiritual gifts, or a myriad of other things that make up who I am. (Goodness, I wouldn’t want you to know everything the moment we met; how boring!) But they do reveal a lot!

I – Introvert, as opposed to Extrovert – where my energy comes from

This means in social situations you’ll find me to be quiet. I will not be the life of the party! I might laugh at your jokes out of politeness and then “get” them ten or twenty seconds later. It’s not that I’m dumb. On the contrary, I’m fairly intelligent and I am very thought oriented; I just don’t think quickly on my feet. Likewise with making a witty response. By the time I think of something funny to say, the topic is already thirty seconds down the road. So I continue to be quiet.

It means that while I’m terrible at small talk, I still like to talk. In fact, I’m quite chatty in one-on-one conversations with friends. I talk long and I talk deep.

At the core, it does not mean that I dislike people. I like them very much! But while extroverts are energized by social interaction, introverts are worn out by it. Being an introvert means that I need lots of alone time to recharge my batteries. I crave solitude.

S – Sensing, as opposed to Intuitive – how I take things in

This means that I use my five senses to pay attention to physical reality. I like facts and then use them to form a big picture. Unlike my highly intuitive daughter who can read others’ emotions like a book, I tend to miss the read-between-the-lines stuff.

T – Thinking, as opposed to Feeling – how I make decisions

This means that I tend to make decisions from my head and not my heart.

J – Judging, as opposed to Perceiving – how I live my outer life

I’m not sure where Myers and Briggs came up with these terms because they have nothing to do with judging or perceiving, as the words are commonly used. Instead, they refer to how one is oriented to the outer world, either structured or flexible.

As a J, I tend to be task oriented, and I like things decided and settled. I like things to be structured and orderly, from my home to my work. I am a planner and my calendar is color-coded! My work and home spaces are almost always neat and tidy. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist (please don’t misjudge this either!) or that everything is super clean (as my bathrooms will attest). I just cannot relax, or even think straight, with messes nearby. For pity’s sake, I can’t even relax to eat my breakfast unless I’ve first cleaned the counter and dishes left earlier by my family. The J in me just won’t let me rest until everything is done. It’s a sickness, I know. I’m sure you’re glad you’re not me.

 

All together, those letters add up to a quiet and predictable life. Boring, in the minds of some people, but my mind is too active to ever be bored. And I’ve finally reached a point where I’m okay with who God fashioned me to be. Who am I to question Him? It’s okay that I’m quiet; it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with me. And I can totally love you for who you are. Even you ENFPs!

Now that you know oh-so-much about me, tell me about yourself. Whether we’ve known each other for years or only met online, I’d love to have you reintroduce yourself as, “Hi! My name is ____________ and I’m an _________.” Don’t know your personality type? You can search “personality profile” in the App Store, or here’s a free online test.

In hope,
Shelli

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.

Comments

  1. What a neat post. I’ve had that happen more than once in my life. I am an INFJ. I am not near as introverted as I once was, but don’t think I’ll ever fall into the extrovert category. I’ve overcome a lot. I’m more secure in who I am (and whose I am). I think that peace and contentment comes out more now so I’m not judged the way I used to be, but it has definitely happened. I am not a very open person (except online) so I think being guarded causes people to think I’m a mystery.

    P.S. I’m following you on instagram now.

    • Thanks, Stephani! According to Keirsey, you are the mysterious one – http://www.keirsey.com/4temps/counselor.asp – and a rare personality type. We found out my daughter is an INFJ, too. I can see her struggles, but what a beautiful personality! I can see it in you, too. Your recent post about your father was so touching that I had to share it with others.

      Glad to meet up on instagram. I always enjoy the beauty of your pics. 🙂

  2. Hi! My name is Natalie and I am an ESTJ! This was fun, thanks. I’ve always wanted to do one of these personality profiles. Our personalities are very similar in many ways- except for the introvert vs extrovert 🙂 Aren’t we all more alike that we think at first glance?

    • It’s so good to see you, Natalie! I’ve missed your posts and had been thinking a lot about you this week.
      You have the personality I’d always imagined I could be, if I just tried harder. Without knowing the letters, I thought ESTJ was an improved version of me. Now I finally see the value in being an introvert (that it’s different, not a deficiency) and am content with the way God made me. But, you’re right – we are so similar! I’m so glad to have you as an online friend. 🙂