BY RACHEL YEUNG
After deliberating much longer than the advised five-second response for each question, I finally clicked through all 70 questions and pressed “See Your Results!” What did the four letters reveal about my inner self that I had not thought of already? Out of the sixteen personality types I could “own,” I was only an “INFP.” Caught by the title of “The Idealist,” I scrolled down to find that my goal in life was to make the world better for others, that I was “considerate” and “thoughtful,” and possessed unusually high moral and ethical standards. I was no longer “Rachel Yeung,” the shy, homeschooled, Chinese-American, studious girl, but a peaceful and caring citizen of the world, a hipster who truly belonged to the Berkeley campus.
Insert reality check. After years of flirting with the categorizations that Myers-Briggs offered, I’ve come to ask myself exactly why personality tests have become so popular. I find quizzes extremely entertaining, but I never stopped to ask myself why I was so drawn to being “personalized.” What do these claims to my personality claim on my identity? More importantly, is my identity as a Christian compromised by my fixation on the details of my Myers-Briggs identity? Could it really be that my obsession with all-things-INFP originated from the desire to be someone—for a unique identity that could explain not only who I was, but also who I aspired to be? Was it this desire for “personalization” that drew me to take tests even when I’d already half-memorized my Myers-Briggs assessment, complete with recommendations for marriage-partner types and suggested occupations?
It took the shocking realization that I didn’t live up to the label of the INFP for me to experience a “personality crisis.” I began to contemplate whether I truly deserved the “F.” Reluctantly, I remembered how difficult it was for me to listen with sympathy whenever my roommate opened up to me about her problems; I tried hard to suppress my instinct to analyze her situation and offer an all-encompassing answer. In daily life, my thirst for knowledge overran any inclination I had to “developing relationships.” I was an INTP, not an INFP.
I could no longer look to the INFP portrait to see how I was to respond to the world. Previously, I attempted to do this by showing more love for others, but I quickly discovered that this spirit of compassion did not last long. It never occurred to me that these failed attempts were a manifestation of my sin. The more I obsessed about my personality, the more it seemed that even Myers-Briggs could not efface the truth of Romans 7. I am enslaved to sin, and “I do not understand what I do; what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (Rom. 7:15 NIV).
God used my complex relationship with Myers-Briggs to challenge my notion that human identity rests in one’s personality. As I learned more about God’s heart for His people and how Christians found their true identity in loving God and others, I was conflicted. My INFP identity already promised that I had the “heart of God” within me. After all, I shared the same personality type as Princess Diana and Mary, mother of Jesus! Yet, I knew that this goodwill and compassion did not exist within me.
God has once again answered the frazzled complexities of my life with beautiful simplicity. First and foremost, the Christian is called to be a follower of Christ. I have the calling to respond to God first, rather than to some pre-determined identity measured by esoteric psychometric measures. Previously, my Myers-Briggs type compelled me to live with an obsessive enthusiasm to “know” who I was. Lately my prayer has been for God to know me, not as the INTP, but as His daughter: shallow, self-absorbed, and sinful, but created in His image.