So, I was thinking this morning that probably I could have just written about EJ’s doctor’s appointment without writing about all the INFJ stuff. But I realize that I wrote about the INFJ stuff because it helps me describe so much of what I think and feel. Like, how I believe that people have different characteristics and gifts, which should be valued instead of seen as less. I happen to believe that the world needs people of all types–both dreamers and doers, both logical and emotional, both fighters and lovers, and so forth. It’s very much as described in 1 Corinthians 12–that the many parts of a body has different functions, and one part can’t say that another part is not needed.
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
In addition to everything else, INFJs have the ability to see through many different perspectives This can be very helpful, but also difficult. I’ll make a statement that I believe is true, but then I can see the exceptions and contradictions to that statement. At times it’s like having double or triple vision. I suspect we INFJs can see through so many perspectives because we live in paradoxes–being both one thing and its opposite at the same time. People who are aware of the MBTI classifications sometimes wish they were INFJs because we are rare and have some amazing gifts, but being an INFJ is both a blessing and a curse. For example, being very empathic is a tremendous gift, but it also causes us to feel the sorrow of the world and makes us a target of abusive people who exploit our empathy. And living in the paradox of being both logical and emotional is awesome, but it also can tear us apart: I can logically conclude that a person is abusive and I must stay away from him/her, but my intense emotions cause me to deeply grieve for the necessity of doing so.
Yesterday I quoted from an article that said that “INFJs tend to pick up on other people’s emotions and in some cases absorb them…Unfortunately, by focusing on others, we end up neglecting our own problems. When left alone, those problems become a pressure cooker waiting to explode. When it’s time for us to explode, we need someone to unload to. We need to discuss our feelings and work through what’s stressing us out.”
Sometimes I feel alone with a burden that’s too heavy, and very few to help me carry it. But yesterday two friends stepped up. One said, “Ohhhh sis! Why didn’t you think of unloading to me?? Well…for next time think of me. I’ll be here if you need to vent ok?” The other said, “With me you can be yourself in crying, ranting and finding someone to be with if your emotions are getting to overwhelm you.” And already, just like that, I don’t feel so alone with a burden I can’t carry. I appreciate them so very, very much.
But I also know that not everyone can carry the world’s burdens all the time. I care deeply for the people in the world who suffer, but there are times when the cruelty, heartbreak, pain, and sorrow becomes overwhelming. I appreciate a friend who once told me that she isn’t able to carry the burdens of all the world so she limits herself to entering into the burdens of a handful of close friends whom God has put in her life. My family is one of those handfuls, and she helped us through JJ’s cancer. Without her, I don’t know if we would have made it. I try to follow her example in this: It’s too much to help all the world, but I can help a few. Sometimes I can care for more, and sometimes for less. I’ve pulled back a bit from Facebook recently, unfollowing a few people and pages, not because I don’t care, but because I care too much, and I find myself immersed in too much pain and sadness. I usually write about the simple activities of my life in this blog as a way to counteract the sorrow and ugliness in the world by reminding myself of its joy and beauty.
The people I struggle most with are those who acknowledge only the happy things in life. They see only good in people, they see only positive in circumstances, God will heal every disease or problem if only you have enough faith. It might be–probably is–unfair of me, but I find them to be some of the most uncompassionate people who deny reality because they don’t allow people to express less positive emotions. Of course, pessimistic people are also not living in reality. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses or doom and gloom. I prefer a third option. I try to stay centered between optimism and pessimism: There are very good people in the world, but also very evil people. There is beauty, but also ugliness. Sometimes God miraculously heals and delivers people, but for some reason that I can’t fathom, sometimes He doesn’t. I mean, we all eventually die of something–I don’t see anyone hundreds or thousands of years old running around. Not being healed doesn’t mean our faith wasn’t strong enough. It means that right now we live in a world where there is sickness and death. I love God deeply and I think He is good and faithful, but sometimes I get mad at Him for allowing suffering. I’m very honest with Him because, well, He already knows when I am afraid or angry so why deny it?
I hate it when I am facing a very frightening situation and someone tells me “You need to have more faith.” I sort of feel like punching them in the face. I don’t do it, of course, but I mutter in my thoughts, “What makes you think I don’t have faith?” Living in realism, to me, means that I honestly acknowledge my fears, anxiety, pain, sorrows, and weaknesses. I don’t want to get stuck in doom and gloom, of course, but denying that I have these “negative” emotions doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. Telling me not to feel these things doesn’t comfort me. It makes me feel alone in the dark.
Here’s a true story illustrating what I mean by all this. Years ago I had a friend who started experiencing an erratic heartbeat. It was severe enough that she was scared that something was terribly wrong with her, and that she might die. She told me in frustration that whenever she expressed this fear to her family and friends, they all told her that nothing was wrong and she wasn’t going to die. As she was telling me this, I was thinking that sometimes really bad things happen–sometimes people get sick and die, even mothers with little children. I hate to lie so I didn’t tell her that nothing was wrong and she wouldn’t die. I’m not a doctor. I also couldn’t tell her that I would be there for her family since we lived in different states. So I said, “If something is seriously wrong with you and you die, I promise that I will pray for your children every day.” Then I felt bad because it sounded so pathetically uncomforting. But my friend immediately grew calmer. She wanted someone to allow her to express her fears. Her major fear was that her children would be left without spiritual support. Being told that her children would be prayed for strengthened her. She didn’t die, by the way.
I prefer confronting fears. I can’t face them if I can’t acknowledge that I have them. Sometimes I look very ugly and messy when I’m confronting fears because fear is so very powerful and scary. I get battered at first, and knocked off my feet. I feel like the sailors in the storm described in Psalms 107, who “were raised up to the sky, then plunged into the depths. At the danger, their courage failed them,
they reeled and staggered like drunk men, and all their skill was swallowed up…” But that didn’t mean they didn’t have faith. I don’t think faith always looks like singing in the sunshine. Sometimes it’s like being knocked down seven times, beaten and bloody, and getting back up. I deeply relate to this scene in Lord of the Rings, in which Eowyn fights the Witch King. She’s obviously terrified, her shield is broken and she drops her sword. It appears at first as if she will be completely defeated, but she gets back up:
So…Stay tuned while I confront these fears now and then.
Today I am doing quite well.