Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
I realize that the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile has been around a long time, but part of the reason for that is because it is so productive. This tool, after answering several questions, provides letters that describes your personality. For example, my personality letters are: ENFJ. The “E” tells me that I think out loud and that I am energized by people. The “N” tells me that I am a dreamer. The “F” informs me I feel before I think. And the “J” lets me know that I appreciate organization and I function better when I make a plan, rather than flying by the seat of my pants.
Today, I want to talk about my “N” letter. I tend to hear someone, and their words remind me of something else, which takes me in a new direction of thought. I regularly think ahead, about the future. It is just natural for me. At times it serves me well. It provides a sense of creativity and enhances my appreciation for planning ahead. But it also has its downside.
Being an “N” means I must work hard to remain focused in the present. Focus is a powerful spiritual tool. Thomas Sterner, in his book, The Practicing Mind, points out, “When you focus your mind on the present moment, on the process of what you are doing right now, you are always where you want to be and where you should be. All your energy goes into what you are doing. However, when you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting it into what you are doing. In order to focus on the present, we must give up, at least temporarily, our attachment to our desired goal.”
Sterner’s comment is relevant for spiritual practice. Being an “N” doesn’t mean I cannot do contemplative prayer, but it does mean I will have to work harder at it. Knowing this about myself, helps me realize were I need extra work. It also helps me know where my natural spiritual inclination resides. Today, consider your personality. Are you someone who is good at focusing in the moment, or more of a dreamer? Where do you need to work to stretch yourself beyond natural inclination? Reaching beyond the comfortable will help you meet God in a new way. New experiences with God are part of the Advent experience.