What I Learned This Week: Understanding How Others Are Made

This week, my amazement moved from seeing how God made me, and how it brought me such liberty and self-acceptance, to seeing how God made my significant others, and how it is changing my acceptance of them.

My husband and I share several characteristics, one is that we are normally all or nothing.  However, my extremes don’t affect me quite like they affect him, and his version of all or nothing has baffled me for decades.  He will take on huge projects, end up doing them all by himself, physically exhaust himself, and then be physically and emotionally down for several days.

For me, I wear myself out on a project, albeit rarely a physical job, as I am pretty much a sloth when it comes to that, and I am back up and running at least after one good night’s sleep, or watching a movie or programming (which I like to do for intellectual challenge and creativity purposes).  I just haven’t understood him.  Honestly, the cycle just seemed stupid to me. Why do that to yourself?  Why not work smarter, not harder, and pre-plan and get more help before doing the project?

But as I am learning about Ronnie’s temperament, it is very eye opening.  He and I share a focus on tasks and getting things done.  My projects are basically intellectual and things I can do alone, without having to depend upon other people (programming, writing, counseling, teaching).

However, his achievements are normally much bigger, include some type of physical tasks, and require many people.  His temperament rarely delegates because of his inborn belief that no one can do a job as well as he can, so he ends up doing it all himself and experiencing burnout.  What was really, really interesting was that there are signs that he is about to enter burnout – he starts talking a lot, stream of consciousness, working situations and emotions out in his head. I never realized the the talking was a precursor to the burnout, because otherwise, he doesn’t talk that much.

Since he is talking about frustrations and problems, I always figure he wants help creating a solution to this repetitive problem so it doesn’t happen again, but nooooooo.  He always says, “Can’t you just listen to me and not try to fix anything?”  And I end up thinking to myself, you do this every time; do you not see a pattern? Do you not want to fix it and stop doing it like this over and over again?  Baffled is the best word to describe it, but if I’m really honest, I just felt superior to him, like I don’t do stupid things like that – why does he? (Pride, anyone???)  Now, I understand it is just the verbal release before he literally passes out.

But after learning more about his temperament, I realize that he has no clue what he is doing, as I didn’t either.  If you don’t know your temperament, its strengths and weaknesses, you have no options to fix them.  You are on automatic pilot and remain there.  However, once you recognize a temperament weakness, you now have a choice regarding how you will act, and you have the responsibility to make the healthiest and godliest choice for yourself.

His need for accomplishments drives him to do great and mighty things for God. But his weakness in delegating because of his inborn perfectionism, which makes him think no one can do it right and he’ll just have to re-do it, causes him to pay for it dearly every time.   So knowing this now, I have a completely different understanding of him, and I don’t think what he is doing is stupid nor that I am wiser that him in how we handle our tasks.  He couldn’t do things any differently if he tried right now, because this is a built-in weakness in his temperament. But once he learns about it, I am interested to see what he does about it.

I haven’t had a chance to share any of this with him because I’m waiting for him to take his temperament test and go over the results with him.  I look forward to seeing if what he learns changes how he handles things.  I know that what I am learning is changing how I see him, so I’m hoping it will change the way he sees himself.

I am looking forward to being able to offer the temperament analysis test to my members, and then meeting with them to discuss their temperament strengths and weaknesses.  I have yet to meet a person with whom I have discussed it who hasn’t received a measure of peace in their life from understanding why they do what they do, and giving them godly options to replace those unhealthy actions. So stay tuned, and I’ll make an announcement when I can offer it.

In the meanwhile, I am working on my own temperament weaknesses, like not freaking out because someone has not followed the rules, but keeping it in perspective and just letting it go.  I’m so much more peaceful, and I hope more easy going at work.  And God is giving me more of His agape love toward those I know as I better understand their motivation and how God made them. I hope that is showing as well.

Your Sister in Christ,