Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Few Words Can Change Your Life: Personality Plus

Seriously? A book can change your life? Oh yes, it can and it did.

I decided to highlight a few of my favorite books and why they've impacted me so powerfully. The first one goes back to fall of 1988 when my husband and I just started to date. I don't know who introduced us to this book but once we got our hands on it, we were never the same again.

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer  explains the how and the why we are the way we are. There is a simple test in the book with word choices that best describe you. It's a fun activity. We've done it many times around the table with friends. You have to be honest and deliberate with your choices and then when it's done, add up the scores to determine your personality type. Then the fun begins, reading about your strengths and weaknesses. In our case, we also read about each other. Oh my, OH MY! T and I are on the opposite sides of the table. He is analytical and organized, I am driven by emotion and spontaneity. He lives by a schedule and I didn't. He color coordinates his closet and I just hang up my clothes... most of the time. He loves charts and graphs and I just want to discuss the vision. So being opposite can be horrific or amazing. We've had both. :) You know God gives us iron to sharpen iron.

There are four temperament types:

Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic.

Each one has beautiful qualities and some ugly weaknesses.

I am Sanguine/Choleric.  Think of Cinderella with work shoes on. I am fun loving, a dreamer, happy, life of the party kind of person. I also know how to lead, drive, and get the job done. 

My husband is Melancholy/Choleric.  Think of Woody from Toy Story. He is organized, a deep thinker, analytical,  and very thoughtful. He chooses his words carefully and speaks wisely. He also knows how to lead, drive, and get the job done.

Don't you just want us in your life!

Ok now for those ugly weaknesses.  They appeared early in our dating but the reality of them did not hit home until we came home from our honeymoon and were living under one roof. Remember that iron sharpening iron. So it began.

Sanguine/Choleric party girl... I am unorganized, unscheduled, undisciplined, and unrealistic and I did not choose my words wisely one or more times let's just say.

Melancholy/Choleric charts and graph boy... He is driven by a schedule, a budget, order, and lacks spontaneity.

Let me explain this in a few real life stories. We came home from our honeymoon and some friends of ours destroyed our apartment thinking this was funny. One of those "funny" things was that they hung up all the labels to our can goods in a streamer. After the complete shock was over,  I was ready to go grocery shopping and start the pantry over. He said, "I can fix this."  My husband was able to evaluate each label, each can and put them back on. That began years of my husband fixing things for me. Sweet man. After our first week home and back to work, Saturday rolled around. I was so excited it was Saturday! No work, time for fun, let's get this day going. T proceeded to pull out his daily planner. In the late 80's we wrote out our lives with ink and paper; no iPhone or Outlook Calendar to sync.  I even remember getting so excited shopping for one each December. Some of us enjoyed the shopping part more than the using part. Oh the idealistic Sanguine.

I said inquisitively, "What are you doing?" He said objectively," Seeing what's on my list for the day."  Seriously? We have a list. It's Saturday. Oh this was a HUGE eye opener for me.

Back to the book. How did it help us and our marriage? 

As much as we love each other, reality is we are two very different people. We are able to look at ourselves and each other through a new lens. A lens that shed light on how God designed each other. Understanding how and why a person does what they do takes away so much offense. I am in no way implying we don't disagree, argue or just detest the way each of us do some things like squeeze the toothpaste but we give grace to one another in times that grace is needed. 

Personality Plus gave us a deep understanding of the raw material we are both constructed from. I use that carefully and on purpose.  In the beginning of my post I wrote: He lives by a schedule and I didn't.

I should have written don't to be in context but I chose didn't.

In God's magnificent way of iron sharpening iron, I have changed. He has changed.  We have always enjoyed our marriage. Always agreed on most things from paint color to style of home to the food we eat to the way we raise our children, but on the ways we are different, we have both grown. Sometimes leaps and bounds overnight yet many times through years of allowing God to be the potter.  Now we blend more. I don't argue over a budget and a schedule; I actually like them now. I'm not undisciplined or unrealistic anymore. He isn't so connected to his list anymore and has become flexible. Funny how this plays out in real life. When a place in our garage was unorganized this January and the Christmas stuff wasn't stacked just so, I whined a bit about it. Not like I could get up that high and straighten it out. T laughed and gave the kids a look like, "Did Mom actually want something in order?" In some ways I have become the Get-Organized-Now Woman and he the Eh, It Will Be Done Soon Enough Guy.

I'm really thankful we have had 25 years of iron sharpening.  We've had our fair share of tough seasons. I know I wasn't very thankful during those times when were butting heads and feeling desperate.  I cried mostly. Honestly I don't want to relive those, ever. But the one thing T and I are committed to is not giving up and praying together. We won't always see eye to eye but our raw material is a daily work in process as long as we know who our Potter is. I adore my man and all he is. God knew exactly what I needed.

By the way... I still have messy dresser drawers. Some things never change.

Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

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