In my 8th-grade Leadership class, we take a variety of personality tests to help us understand who God made us to be. And as I always say, the tests are merely tools. They aren’t the final authority on who we are, and we don’t have to accept everything they say as true about us. But sometimes certain parts of them put into words things we haven’t been able to articulate. And in a moment, there’s a flash of enlightenment.
Such was the case with the Myers-Briggs (16 Personalities) test, and their section on romantic relationships. When I was reading through some of my students’ posters summarizing their results, certain personality types said they fell in love fast and easily. And some of them—like my own—were the opposite.
The lines from my personality type (ENFJ—The Protagonist) that best sum it up are these:
“Protagonists want to fall in love with the content of a person’s character and the tenor of their soul—not just the way they look from across the room […] Their standards are high, and they know it. In fact, this awareness might give Protagonists a deeper appreciation of just how rare and precious it is to feel a real spark with another person—and in turn, how rare and special it is when that spark grows into the steady flames of true, abiding love.”
At last I knew I wasn’t making it up. That I wasn’t the only one. That there was an explanation for why I am the way I am. God designed me that way, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in the way I’m wired.
I’ve discovered love a few times in my life. And each of those times, it took me awhile to acknowledge it. But when I did, it was because I realized that that was the kind of man I wanted to marry. And as I grew older, and some of those men didn’t work out, my understanding of what I wanted continued to be refined. During the in-between times, I pondered, read, discussed, and wrote about love and marriage enough that it became clear what my priorities were for it.
I’m not so arrogant as to assume the role of God when it comes to my future. I can’t tell right away who will or won’t be my future husband (if that’s even to be my one-day calling). But I do feel sure of what God has taught me through each heartbreak and each year of quiet waiting and sanctifying. My childish understandings of love have been whittled away and still are to this day. Many things have changed for what I desire. Some have not.
And with each of those men I mentioned earlier, God used them to show me in living color what was once only a black and white dream. He showed me they’re real, and He showed me how beautiful it could be.
But it’s hard when it feels like others don’t understand, and they think you’re just being picky. It’s hard when they don’t know how you feel, and you want them to, but you don’t know how to show them.
All you wish is for them to step inside your skin for just a moment and see through your eyes.
If only they knew the way he lights up your eyes and your soul.
If only they knew the hunger for depth of conversation, character, and conviction.
If only they could feel the magic, the electricity, the joy that only comes once in a blue moon.
If only they could see the beauty of a friendship you learned at 14 to value above all other shallow interactions.
If only they knew how long you prayed for someone with whom you shared a passion for ministry.
If only they knew how few men out there are available, attractive (body & soul), and attentive.
If only they could see how it takes time to build trust as you slowly get to know someone over weeks and months.
If only they knew how you’d experienced this beauty and then had those hopes and dreams shattered, so it took time to rebuild hope—and even then, there was a wide margin of protection around your heart.
If only they knew how God had taught you the quiet contentment of the single life and a deeper relationship with him that could come no other way.
But even if they don’t (or can’t) understand that, I know it.
Because of that, I’m content with who I’ve been created to be: someone who falls in love slowly with a rare kind of man. That kind of man is worth waiting for, and I know that if God has him for me in my future, nothing on earth will stop us from coming together. And if God doesn’t have him for me, I trust he has a reason.
And perhaps, if you’re a little like me tonight, and you want to know you’re not alone—this is for you:
To those who don’t fall in love easily—
Who care more about the tenor of his soul or the content of her character
Than the way he or she looks from across the room—
To those who care to first grow a beautiful friendship
That unfolds into a deep, deep love,
Who have high standards,
Not because you’re “picky” or “snobbish,”
But because you feel that true love requires
A rare kind of person not found every day—
To those who are more content with waiting,
With comfortable silence, and earnest pursuits
Than with filling the quiet space with any available person—
To those who sometimes feel judged
For not being more “open-minded”
Or not “considering” more people—
To those who know deeply
What makes them drawn to another person,
And who don’t want to settle for less,
But who feel pressured by those who don’t understand
And feel the need to explain themselves—
I see you.
I understand you.
And it’s okay to be the way you are.
Some personality types fall in love quickly and frequently.
Some personality types fall in love slowly and rarely.
And for all personality types, sometimes it’s just not the right time or place or person.
And we need to be more understanding of this reality.
Let us give space to one another to discover who we are in Christ,
What he’s called us to,
And who he’s called us to
If he wants us to share this life with another person
For his purposes.
And if another’s story doesn’t look like your own,
Love them anyway.
Hold with tenderness their frailty
And rejoice with their love.
May God be glorified through each and every one of our stories.
Photo by Marc A. Sporys on Unsplash.