I struggle with perfectionism. I admit it. It’s so doggone engrained in me partially because of my personality and partially because I grew up in a home that was OCD…literally.
We were prepared, AT ALL TIMES, for the Pope to arrive unannounced or perhaps the Queen of England was swinging through Baldwinsville, NY…you just never knew! Either way….you could eat off the toilet seat if you so desired. Where does that object belong? Well let me tell you because EVERYTHING has it’s place. Don’t walk in that room!! That’s the room we look at, we don’t use it, you might mess up the vacuum lines. TRUTH! Cleanliness and organization is next to godliness for sure.
Now my mom has come a long way since my childhood and is an amazingly relaxed grandmother. In complete rebellion of her former self she doesn’t even do the dishes every night or make her bed in the morning…GASP…my lips to God’s ear it’s true.
So here I am a few generations in dealing with this perfectionism curse. I think I’m more like a glass of soda where the ice has melted…a watered down version of a perfectionist but I still taste like soda.
I MUST fix our eleventy billion pillows, eleventy billion times on every surface the kids chuck them off of, squish them down or carry off into other rooms. All day, errrrrry day. My bum cheeks tighten together so air tight you would swear I was a frog when I see the fringe on the carpet in disarray, or clothes left on the floor or the kids making out with the windows. On the other hand I let a lot slide too. I’m a confused perfectionist or maybe my laziness just crashes into my perfectionism creating “me”.
I have learned over the last few years I can be miserable and make my family miserable keeping a perfect home or I can just pick my battles. So what if my carpet under the table could feed a third world company. My drawers are sorta organized and folded properly, my pantry is pretty logical, you will find what you need eventually. I don’t measure when I cook, I don’t use drop cloths when I paint, I’m a “wing it” sorta girl a lot of the day.
I had a massive epiphany when I took the Myers Brigg test a few months back. If you haven’t taken it before then PLEASE do it…free version here. I really love figuring out why I do what I do or why I process like I process; unlike the introspective, emo, 20 something me that was blatantly in sin and selfish and shallow….maybe that’s why I was miserable???? Not too much to figure out there as much as I tried. Now, in my current quest to “know thy self”, it’s so I can better relate to my husband and my children…BECAUSE GOOD GOLLY WE ARE ALL SO DIFFERENT.
I’m an introvert. Nobody believes me! It’s sad really, I think I breath down the neck of an extroverted personality but it’s a mask. I didn’t raise my hand in class my whole life. I would rather die than be put on the spot to debate in front of people, I am a wall flower at social mixers unless I have a friend there. I NEED alone time and if it is stolen from me I get really angry or emotional. ( I sound so fun don’t I?)
When I read my test results (best descriptors found here) I cried. I felt understood…by a TEST!!!! Being understood is so huge for me. I am an INFJ across the board.
Lets take a little look at my tendencies.
“INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.
INFJs place great importance on having things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk. (OH…there’s that inconsistent me)
INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get “feelings” about things and intuitively understand them. INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive. (Oh my goodness this paragraph was a lightbulb to me!)
But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress. (GUILTY!)
Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. They believe that they’re right.(Poor Ryan) On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments. (This made me cry…it’s so true and sad…but true.) They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don’t believe in compromising their ideals.”
OK…now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of me you are probably either identifying with empathy or sympathy or you’re deciding if you still want to be friends with me. You gotta admit it….you are dying to figure out what you are and possibly your spouse or family? It was HUGE for me to see Ryan’s results. We are quite opposite in almost every letter which is why we have to work hard at communicating and giving grace in our different processes. Obviously, you can see I am half donkey which I have to be so aware of and consider….CONSIDER that Ryan could have a good or even better way of doing things. CONSIDER
He and I are so close to finalizing the details of what we believe to be our ultimate adventure in the second half of our lives. A vision the Lord has given us both for ministry and we are so excited and scared and overwhelmed by it. We believe we were created for this ministry and the journey of our lives, thus far, has been our classroom of refinement and growth so we could be prepared for this. But oh my INFJ and Ryan’s INTP go toe to toe so often in creating and moving forward in this ministry. What is the next steps needed, how are we going to do this, what do you see about that, who is going to handle this, stop…breath…pray…let’s compromise somehow. WE are getting there and when I stop and ponder this vision I burst into tears. Just the very thought of it makes me feel alive. So we are working through the strengths of our personalities and trying to give grace in our weaknesses.
I may still fix the pillows 15-20 times a day…but I do it myself, I don’t make my kids do it….that’s pretty “gracious” of me don’t you think? I’m slaying the perfectionist beast as much as I can identify it and just skimming the cream. I am learning to appreciate my unique personality and perspective instead of feeling alienated by it. I’m thankful for my close group of girlfriends that love me, quirks and all. I’m thankful that God has an individual purpose for me that engages my uniqueness in the kingdom. HE has also called you into a specific vision for the kingdom work that will compliment your giftings. It’s a beautiful picture of the body at work.