When I was in college, my sister found this personality profiling program called “Dress your truth.” There are four “types,” and after reading each’s description you put yourself into one of these groups, as well as a lesser-prevalent subgroup. Over a school break, we sat on my mom’s bed and the three of us read through the types. I was excited to connect with type 1, which encompasses people who have lots of ideas, are sporadic, and fly by the seat of their pants essentially. These were things I found fun and exciting about my life! As we read through all the types, my sister kept saying, “You’re so a 4!” When we got to type 4, it described me so well, I was in shock – I’m a perfectionist. I like simple, straight lines, I like things to be a certain way, I see the world a little differently than other people, I can be pegged as mean or bossy, I can be so bold sometimes that it turns people off, I’m very black-and-white. The only problem was that these were all the parts of my personality that I HATED – wanna know why? Because it was obvious everyone around me hated them, too.
I can’t help it that I have an internal sense of what is wrong and what is right, and that I cannot stray from it. That is part of who I am, and it feels wrong to the very makeup of my cells to ignore that feeling. That means that group projects (whether in school or in the adult world) can be like pulling teeth, because I truly feel there is a right and a wrong way to complete the task. And on top of that, it HAS to be perfect. HAS TO BE. Guess what? The rest of the group usually does not agree, and I either have to force my way through and be a control-freak, or sit back with a closed mouth and let my insides churn, failing in my attempts to not care.
As we sat on my mom’s bed, I was devastated. You mean all the things about myself that I have been trying to change my whole life are PERMANENT parts of my character?? Part of who I am as a person? After we were done reading through the different types and I was alone, I cried. Great, so I will always be like this.
I continued to struggle with this, until I went on my mission. Sure, when I was being trained my black-and-white sense of right and wrong was probably annoying for my trainer, along with my perfectionism. But as my mission progressed, I realized that my boldness brought the Spirit. I could naturally teach with a power that others worked harder for. My perfectionism meant I met the goals my companions and I set, along with the standards set by our mission president. Throughout my mission other missionaries praised me, and my companions and I saw miracles. Finally, I saw how the personality traits that were intrinsic to who I am as a person can work for God’s plan. He needed me to be who I was in order to accomplish His work, and to carry out His plans.
Recently, I re-learned this lesson in a relief society lesson. An awesome woman in my ward spoke about Adam and Eve. She explained that something didn’t sit well with her with the popular rhetoric that Eve was enlightened, and that’s why she ate the fruit – that she knew something Adam did not. This woman in my ward prayed about it, went to the temple, and really searched for a solution to what was bothering her. Through revelation, she came to the conclusion that the serpent beguiled Eve. Eve got tricked. And you know what? That’s okay.
The way that I see the situation is that Heavenly Father put Adam and Eve in the garden, and He knew what they were like. He knew their personality types, their way of thinking, their habits. He also knew Satan very well, and knew that Satan would come and tempt them. All God needed to do was put them all in a situation, and sit back and let them be themselves. By being themselves, the Plan of Salvation was set into motion.
The more I live life, the more I realize that sometimes life doesn’t need to this constant struggle. Sometimes God just needs you to be who you are. That doesn’t mean that I can’t always try to improve (or taper some of my boldness when speaking with my family or friends or coworkers or really any human at all, for example), but it does mean that God knows what I’m like, and He can use that to accomplish His plans. My personality traits came in handy on my mission, and it was obvious God put me there because He had some things that needed to be accomplished, and He knew that because I am the way I am, if He put me in that situation He would get the desired outcome. Sometimes God needs someone who thinks in black-and-white, someone who says what they’re thinking and will be honest with others. And that makes me feel really great, really useful to Him. Sometimes as an adult I try to avoid situations where these personality traits come out because I’m not always successful at presenting them in a way that is easy to swallow. But the older I get, the more I believe that God is okay with the intrinsic personality traits I have, (that maybe changing them is not the point), and that He isn’t out to change who I am as a person, just help me figure out how to make them work for Him and for me. The fact that God loves me for who I am, seemingly undesirable traits and all, gives me a sense of comfort and surety that makes it easier for me to move forward with confidence in His plan – and it means something special that I can be part of that plan, flaws and all.