Thinking vs. Feeling - A Journey
Grade school and college students take all sorts of tests—from academic tests in their coursework, to social quizzes in magazines. They take standardized tests to prove their college readiness and career inventories to find out what fields they should consider. I recall taking a Myers-Briggs Personality test in Psychology 201, around 1995. I have no recollection of any thoughts I had as I took the inventory, but the results, the aftermath, left quite an impression. I was classified as an INTJ…right, what does that mean? Had I known what it meant, I would never had said it out loud that day in class. I quickly found out that it was rare (2%), and even more rare for a female (.8%). My four letters meant Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. Seems harmless, right? Well, each of these is based on a scale with its opposite personality trait. Introvert vs. extrovert, intuitive vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving. The most stark difference was my scale for thinking vs. feeling. My results scale showed that more than 97% of my decisions were based upon thinking as opposed to feeling. Somebody in the room said, “Dang girl, you don’t feel nothing!” It seemed as if everyone was scooting their desks away from me, the alien in the room.
It was on that day that my self-awareness was piqued. If I were not introverted, I certainly was after these test results. Only 2% of the human population has this personality type. It didn’t mean I lacked feelings, it meant I didn’t allow feelings to play a big part in my decision-making. I felt love, tenderness, hurt, sadness, embarrassment, all of those things. As a thinker, though, I didn’t allow feelings to guide my decisions.
This explained why conversation was difficult for me, why my friends frustrated me, and why I just didn’t understand people, in general. It seemed people consistently made life harder than it had to be. I didn’t understand indecisiveness. Why not just make a pro-con list and go from there? And in conversation, I didn’t understand why people still wanted to talk when we had just discovered something they urgently needed to do. It was on that day that I learned a great deal about myself. What I didn't realize, on that day, was the impact of thinking as opposed to feeling.
I was raised in the church—attended every Sunday. I could quote a few scriptures. I would never quote one, but I had a few in my repertoire to say when our Sunday school teacher went around the room. I knew Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I knew about Adam and Eve. I knew that God had sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. I knew “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) And I knew that God was in control. . .of the things that got out of my control, and I tried my best never to have to rely on Him because I could take care of myself. Do you see the problem?
I married in 1998, and became a teacher, and a few years later, a mother. Feelings were somewhat important in these roles, to the extent I would soften my heart to allow them. As 2009 approached, life was getting out of control...my control. My marriage was failing fast. I could control myself, but no one else. I found myself having to pray—having to call on God, (Romans 10:14) to take care of the things I couldn’t control. I admit, I didn’t want to go there, but He has a way of causing those he “foreknew” to “conform.” (Romans 8:29) In 2011, my church was reading a book that I thought, and I emphasize thought, would help my, then husband, and I to have a better year. The book, One Month to Live, opened with John 15, the vine and the branches. The book I was reading to help improve my marriage, was telling me that I needed to be pruned in order that I could grow. John 15:2, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” I didn’t want to feel or think what the Holy Spirit said needed to happen.
In 2012, I was a single mom—a single mom still trying to do everything herself. God’s next feat was to teach me to trust in Him. He knew I trusted in my savings and He knew I would never ask anyone for money. In 2012, there was no savings and there wasn't about to be a phone call to ask for any money. He provided. He knew a negative checking account would absolutely push me over the edge. I recall once that my account balance was -$4. A random check for $5 came in the mail. I had pulled up to the mailbox and when I opened that check, I passed on by my house to get that check to the bank immediately so I would be positive by $1. Praise God!
I had made up in my mind that I was going to be a single mother, forever. I wasn’t dating or even making eye contact with a man. Those who know me will attest, when my mind is set, it’s the end of the discussion. For God, who knitted me in my mother’s womb, (Psalm 139:13) that’s not always the case. He had other plans.
Troy Massey and I met in 2013. Immediately, and to this day, I felt things I had never felt in my entire life. That’s funny, but it’s the absolute truth. Given our individual pasts, we didn't think we should get married. We felt that we should get married, and we trusted God to make a cord of three. (Ecclesiastes 4:3) He is my Valentine every day of the year! 💕💕
I have known God nearly my entire life, but for a long time, I knew Him as head knowledge. I didn't know Him with my heart as I do now. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:10) Had I not reached this level of belief, I would not be at peace today. I would still be trying, unsuccessfully, to think my way through life, without realizing the peace and fulfillment of life with God, not just in my head, but my heart.
I hope someone reading this blog, will gain a better realization of how God can work in your life, if you will only call on Him to do so. (Roman 10:14) I illustrate here how God helped me to overcome my own personality type! No matter your ailment, He is able.
I never took the Myers-Briggs Test again, but I am certain, that my 97% thinking has decreased. I pray for the other INTJs in the world. I pray God will work in their lives that they can give up some control, too. Too much thinking leads to pride, which we all know is sin. “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalm 10:4)
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Copyright 2018 by Kimberly Griffith Massey
2/13/2018 12:10:15 am
Thanks Kim! I am on the other end of the Meyers Briggs but you gave me some insight into two of my five children who are very much INTJ's. Thanks for being transparent and sharing your heart!
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If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.