My friend has this book titled, “Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence” by David Keirsey. There’s a test in there to ascertain which of the 16 temperaments or hybrids thereof you fall into. The book then goes on to delve into characteristics of each temperament giving details about social interactions, dating life, married life, child rearing habits, and even jobs you’d gravitate towards! It’s quite an extensive analysis.
When Justin read my temperament description, I was fighting back the tears. It was like he were reading out of my private journal. I’d say it was 90% accurate. Maybe even 95%…Freaky!
Seriously, there were some statements in there that I had, almost verbatim, said to a friend earlier this year. Things I have just discovered about myself penned out by a total stranger. I felt exposed and it was uncomfortable.
Many thoughts have come to mind with regards to this experience since. First was the temptation to now model my inner life in accordance with the spoken word. I had to consciously remind myself that I am not defined by what that book says of me. That it was a descriptive analysis not a prescriptive one.
Next was the urge to excuse my behavior as the mere outworking of who I am. But then I realized that who I am is not static. My choices and my experiences have shaped me and will continue to do so. There may be things about me that aren’t very useful – they can change – I have the choice to change them!
My thoughts then turned to the virtue of a test like the one I took. I took it with my current roommate, my previous roommate and one of my closest friends. They didn’t find their analyses to hit as close to home as did mine. But for those things that were true, it validated our uniqueness and for me, gave insight into how to better invest in those relationships.
It took an intense year of self-discovery for me to accede many of the things in my temperament analysis. So much that I don’t think the result of the test would have been the same at this time last year. Almost as if you’ve already got to know yourself pretty well to test an accurate result. In that sense, the analysis was affirming. And in that same sense I wouldn’t swear by temperament tests.
When my description was read, I felt like my life was laid bare in so plain language that it was frightening to hear. But it is the painful experiences of this past year that have opened my eyes to certain important realities of who I am. So I thank the pain for being my teacher and exposing me.
I imagine that the day of judgment will bear some similarities to that temperament testing exposition. As the Searcher of hearts lays bare the innermost workings of every man, woman and child…finally, fatefully, exposed.