Life As A Paradox
My temperament test results have always been a bit perplexing.
The first time I ever took the test was with my FOCUS team at Benedictine College. We took it at the start of the year to have a better understanding of how we all were wired in order to facilitate stronger teamwork, better dialogue, greater empathy, etc.
Temperaments are distinct from personality and more specifically refer to our natural preferences and tendencies; to how we react to things.
- Sanguine – the life of the party, enthusiastic, fun-loving, outgoing.
- Melancholic – the perfectionist, sensitive, thoughtful, quiet.
- Choleric – the natural leader. determined, energetic, goal-oriented.
- Phlegmatic – the peacemaker, easy-going, calm, chill.
That year, one girl on my team scored highly Sanguine while another was very Melancholic. My results basically implied a was an equal split of all four traits across the board. I remember coming away from that meeting a bit alarmed that I didn’t know who I was well enough to perform a basic self-assessment quiz.
My teammates, God bless them, reassured me that it was a good thing to be equally split because it meant that you were well-balanced.
What I’ve learned since then is that the results spoke to that fact that my life, my personality, even my way of living is a bit of a paradox.
Sure there are some things that have always been consistent: my love of sports and exercise and drive – my parents used to say my theme song was Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong. Clearly, I’m not bragging here. But most traits seem to fall in the gray area, in the area that’s harder to be defined by temperament tests.
I don’t mind a messy house, but organization makes me happy.
I’m a girl that sometimes reacts quite unemotionally.
I’m driven, but laid back about things I should probably care more about.
I’m positive but my resting face often implies otherwise.
Good conversations recharge me, but I’m usually quiet in big groups.
Is this resonating with anyone? I actually didn’t realize the full extent of my paradoxical ways until I got married. My husband has helped see and called me out on quite a few.
Just this weekend, I went all out and chopped, prepped, and stewed a meal, braised lamb, which is usually nothing like me. We were planning on hosting friends but had to cancel because of the winter plagues going around. When my family sat down to eat, I pulled out the wine and the fancy lamb platter because why not. But then after dessert, I dumped one of my girl’s crumbed up brownie leftovers on my plate that made just as big of a mess on my face because class.
Maybe there’s beauty in living a life of seeming contradictions.
Jesus began His ministry by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…” (Matthew 5:3–12)
The Christian life is made up of paradoxes. We see unseen things. We gain strength when we are weak. We are made great by becoming small. We are exalted when we are humble. We are made free by becoming servants. We live by dying*.
Some of our most important beliefs are contradictory at first glance.
I took the test again before writing this and, interestingly enough, now have a clear front-runner in the Phlegmatic department and lagger in the Melancholic department.
What interests me is how my scores have changed. Before, as a single campus missionary, I was more even across the board. Now, as a mom to three loud, little tikes, maybe I need to be, or at least try to be, a bit more phlegmatic to preserve my sanity.
The fluidity of my answers gives me hope that, just as our life situations change, we can also adjust to being what we’re supposed to be at that time. It is a good reminder that in time our strengths can deepen and our weaknesses can recede if we continue to try to own them, know them, and grow.
And if that means we’re living like a paradox at the current moment then so be it.
What is your primary temperament? Do you think they can change along with our circumstances in life or were my dynamic answers the result of user error or a different test?