Sunday, 25 January 2009

Personality Test

At Navs tonight I took a personality test. Usually I see a personality test and think, "I put in information; it gives a label; I look at what the label means and discover it means that I put in this information. Sum information gain=0." What surprised me was most tonight was that the answer surprised me.

The quiz concerned how we most frequently/effectively connect with God. I was expected "Comtemplative" or "Intellectual" to be up there. I didn't actually know what the labels were until I finished the quiz--Dan had us not look at the tally sheet, and wouldn't even give us the label key until we were done--but I had a fairly good idea that at least one of them would be on there when I was answering the questions. But get this: they were both among my lowest categories. No, what I scored highest in were "Serving" and "Creation." This means I feel most attached to God when I am serving others and when I am creating something or admiring Creation. The last one I could have guessed; the second I should have guessed, but hadn't.

It made sense, though. I read the description for Serving and everything it said was true. Now, I'm fully aware of the Horoscope Illusion: each prediction or description is tailored to apply almost universally, and yet appear too specific for that to be true. I suspect personality tests do the same; at least, very few categories in personality tests appear totally unrelated to me. So I read the other categories, and, lo and behold... they didn't describe me. I could not 'resonate' with them (I don't like using that word, but I can't come up with a suitable alternative at the moment). I don't worship with people so well; I mean, I like being in a crowd of people who are utterly invested in worship, as in Praise and Power here at school, but interaction with people hasn't ever struck me as particularly holy. I suppose it can be, but I haven't felt the energy, though. Unless, of course, I'm serving...

It said of me, "You feel uncomfortable if you don't have a role to play." That's true. I've known it to be true, as well; I have to contribute somehow. I get antsy if I don't. It also warned that I have to recall that serving is an act of worship. True, that. Once I get started I serve easily, but somehow I forget sometimes.

Now, why was I surprised? I've been aware lately of how much I get from helping people. If you ever want me to do something, appeal to my altruism. Don't try to make something sound good for me; that never works. Make it sound like the right thing to do, and I'm yours. The thing is, I'm terribly concerned I'm not serving enough. Do you know how many opportunities to serve I see, and how comparatively few I take? The gap is huge. I am so far from being a servant of God that it's overwhelming.

And yet I realize, as I look around me, that I am serving more than your average Joe is. I volunteer two hours at Run&Read (3 hours in walking there and back); I have an English buddy, a first year student I'm helping learn the ropes of the English department; I edit people's papers pretty much pro bono; I hold open every door I can, and offer to carry things for people whenever I remember to; I give pretty near all of my pocket change to beggars when I walk down Princess Street; I give to almost every charity that asks, buying from bakesales when I'm not hungry or giving whatever's in my pocket to the deaf-mute people who come door to door. (And I wonder why I'm short on money?) This isn't even the complete litany, either. I'm not including my work facilitating Navs or the one-off volunteering I do through them sometimes, or my work on colloquium (though CV-padding is part of my motive on that one, let's be honest).

This isn't to make myself look better. This is to illustrate that, yes, maybe I do have derive worship from volunteering and didn't notice. It also illustrates what I need to be doing more often; I have to find somewhere to volunteer over the summers. I really do. It's soothing to me.

Related to the distance between what I'm doing and where I want to be: it seems to me that each time you advance along a certain path towards building the character you want to be, you find that your ultimate goal is further off than you had wanted. Say you're an average person, so far as politeness goes. Say you want to be more polite than you are. So you do those obvious things: you say "please" and "thank-you" when you ought and you try to be more diplomatic. But as you start to do these things, you see more gestures you could perform that you hadn't thought of. Once you've completed this, you see more manners you ought to keep; these manners, however, are a little harder to do. Maybe holding that door open isn't convenient right now, as you're late for class, but good manners indicates you ought to nonetheless. Maybe you forgot you had that assignment and you could really use the evening to work on it so it wouldn't be all crammed into your weeked, but you said you'd go to your friend's poetry reading. Sure, everyone else is going, so she doesn't need your support in particular--but you did say you'd go. Each time you become more polite, you realize how woefully far you are from being truly, perfectly polite. Each step you take, the longer you see the journey is. That is maybe why I see that I am not serving very much at all, while others think I am serving a lot. I am further down the road, and from this vantage I have a better sense of how little of the path I've traveled.

The "creation" part I wasn't surprised about. I already knew that making things is a passion of mine--absurdly so; I make maps in computer game editors even if I doubt anyone will ever play them--and I've dabbled in devotional poetry. You can dig in my archives to find some not-very-skilled results. I swear I'm better now. I ought to do more of that. The flip side is that I also enjoy veiwing creation, and this too is true. I love learning about the technical aspects of art. How does one animate (my brother fills me in on that)? How does one practice photography? What are the theoretical implications of sculpture? What defines musical genres? How does one act, or design a set? Also, how can one harness these to worship God, process the Revelation, spread the Gospel? Also, being outside, walking in the world--natural is prefered, but urban will suffice in a pinch--is a deeply calming and meditative process for me. I process through walking. Walking is key. Also, animals of all stipes (and spots and bumps and phosphorescent wrinkles) focus me. This isn't artistic creation of course, so much as capital-c Creation. I don't know how much these two elements should be connected; it seems like a play on words more than a logical connection, metaphor over metonymy. But look at the Romantics, look at Aristotle, look at Indigenous peoples, look at Taoist paintings. They fuse art and nature all the time. It seems one cannot exist without the other, for them. Creation and creation; both things I love.

Perhaps I'll post the quiz on here tomorrow, when I shouldn't be getting ready for bed. Perhaps you'd like to take it, if you're at all interested in learning how you connect with God.

1 comment:

Cait said...


please post the quiz. I would really like to take it.

From reading your post I think that you're in a good spot right now. You know that you're doing good things and being a good servant but you also know how far that you still have to go.

This probably doesn't mean much or may sound weird but I'm proud of you.

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