13 June 2014

A feminist and the church: a love story?

Random thing I've been thinking about lately: If my church and I were in a relationship would it work out? I want to clarify that I'm not talking about the gospel, I'm just talking about the day-to-day culture with which I have a love-hate relationship.

I have this book that talks about Myers-Briggs types and relationships between them, which is totally unscientific, I know, but it's entertaining. So, a couple of months ago I decided the institutional church seems to me like an ESFJ (I know, totally subjective). I looked up how ESFJs and INFJs (my type) interact and it was like seeing my whole relationship with the church summarized before my eyes.

The things we have in common are all the things I really love about the church.  The anthropomorphized church and I are both caring and eager to please. We strive for harmony in relationships. We like things to be organized and to have things planned and settled. INFJs are attracted to ESFJ because of their high energy, willingness to help other people, and natural friendliness. ESFJs help their partners participate more fully in the world and become more optimistic about the future. INFJs help ESFJs think about the far-reaching implications of their actions and become more open to new approaches to old problems.

And then there are the struggles... "ESFJs and INFJs have fundamentally different temperaments. Most ESFJs are much more traditional and conservative than their partners and most INFJs are more introspective and philosophical. So ESFJs feel frustrated that their partners... endlessly question how things might be better or more meaningful. ESFJs don't like change and find it unsettling when their partners fantasize about lifestyles ESFJs don't think are realistic or practical. ESFJs prefer to maintain the status quo, and since they feel strongly about almost everything, they can be a bit rigid about the right way to do things. INFJs also tend to hold strong beliefs and often take a moral position about the way things ought to be. These two highly opinionated types may find themselves at odds, especially if their strongly held values are in conflict, and they may find themselves pushing their individual agendas to the detriment of their relationships." Yep.

"Finally, ESFJs and INFJs often have different needs for social stimulation. ESFJs are very active, busy people who tend to have lots of friends and to get involved in a variety of outside activities. INFJs need much more time alone and prefer to maintain a smaller group of close, trusted friends. ESFJs are sometimes frustrated when they feel that their partners are resisting their efforts to participate in social activities, and INFJs often feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the whirlwind of activity. INFJs prefer more intimate, one-on-one interactions and like to discuss things in depth." Yep again.

Anyway, that explained a lot. And I decided that I can make it work if I don't feel like I have to agree with everything the church does, and I don't have to attend every single activity planned. I can appreciate the church for the good things that it brings into my life, and supplement with other things in the areas where we're just different. We might need therapy occasionally but I'm optimistic. And I'm not planning on leaving unless it throws my suitcases out on the lawn.

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