Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having personality. It is one of my favorite things to see blossoming in my two girls, the little things that make them individuals; all the quirky-ness that only someone who is with them everyday would even notice.
But back to negative personality.
Dictionary.com describes personality as:
1. the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others: he has a pleasing personality.
2. a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities: he is a curious personality.
a. the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.
b. the organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of the individual
4. the quality of being a person; existence as a self-conscious human being; a personal identity.
I think we can all agree that the idea of 'personality' can encompass some negative aspects, qualities, characteristics, etc. in us. So should we defend it as the sum of who we are, our identity.
I've learned the answer, it's NO!
Plenty of my little ticks and quirks are harmless and even sort of fun, like the way when I'm nervous in a crowd of people I touch my face a lot. I'm sure those who know me best could offer a bunch more, but that was all I could come up with off the top of my head.
Then there are the personality traits that can grow tiresome, like the way I daydream, a lot. My creative mind is always thinking a million miles an hour it seems, and sometimes it makes it hard for me to have good conversation, because I speak where I left off in my head, but the other person didn't hear all I was thinking and so therefore is lost. How many people can relate to that? I hope a lot, because I do it pretty consistently.
Then there are the more destructive traits, like being overly defensive. I can't seem to take criticism very well at all, even in the most loving of settings, especially from people I love. I think I might actually take it better from total strangers. Anyways, whenever someone brings some sort of correction, even if they try to make it sound nice, I immediately go into defense mode, which usually looks like me trying to tell them all the reasons that their logical reasons won't work in my situation. Hahaha.
My mother use to tirelessly go through all the possible solutions to a particular problem in my life, where I would sit and shoot down every one with all my reasons why they would fail, having never tried even half of them. I was so self assured as a teenager that my logic was more sound than hers in matters that related to my life (what teenager doesn't). So she would go on and on until finally she would say it was time for bed. Usually these long 'debates' happened in the late hours of the night when I was feeling vulnerable and would actually talk more openly.
Anyhoo, so on to personality and what I have recently been learning and reflecting on.
Nothing in my personality is set in stone except what the Lord has destined to be set in stone. You know the scripture that says He will shake everything that can be shaken....well He can do that in all areas of our lives. In mine, one of the first ones Holy Spirit began to tackle was my personality. Or at least that is how it manifested, but really He went in to kill all the lies I had believed for years.
Have you ever had something in your life, a habit, quirk, an area of sin or temptation, and you were so set in living that particular way, that you could no longer imagine a different way for yourself?
For the sake of an example, lets look back at my defensive behavior trait. As you can probably imagine, it is not a good trait to have in general, but especially not in marriage where 'debates' come up a lot in the beginning years. Thank the Lord that my husband is stronger than me, and can do some pretty fancy verbal footwork. He doesn't have all the soft spoken compassion or endless patience of my mother, but I guess I am glad for that now, because he was able to see what the hang up was and cut to the chase.
He would confront me and say, 'Why are you being so defensive, all I said was isn't there a better system we can use to get the laundry done and not leave it sitting in the dryer for days?" (disclaimer, that may not be an exact quote of Ken, he doesn't like it when I misquote, but this is how I remember it going)
I also can't remember exactly how that particular debate ended, but I do remember thinking, "I'm not defensive, I'm just sure that your ways won't work."
As time went on and I drew closer to the Lord and my husband had more of these types of confrontations, Holy Spirit began to show me that these things that I had always labeled as my 'personality' were a problem and not okay. When that truth hit me it was a hard blow, because I was able to see that these things were a problem for the first time, but I was also convince that there was nothing to be done about them. They were who I was, so the Lord would have to change Ken, right?
Well I can happily say now that the Lord can do a lot about our bad characteristics. Even the things we think are so ingrained in us that there is nothing that could change our mindset or our habit. In my little journey I have also discovered that the root of our unhelpful qualities is usually not what we suspect them to be. Mine weren't at all rooted in what I thought they were. Pride and arrogance weren't the root of my defensiveness, shame and rejection were!
As the Lord began to deal with the roots of shame and rejection in my life, (you can read about my radical deliverance story here), a lot of the bad habits I had started to grow less and less. It wasn't that I didn't have the urge to still do it the old way, it was that I understood who my true identity was in Christ and it was just easier to do the right things, the good things.
Today I am righting about all of this, because as I laid in bed one night, a week ago, thinking about 2010 and all the changes in our lives, I heard the Lord whisper to me, "Only with the Lord, can He change our personalities without us feeling as though we have lost anything or done anything impossible." That may not be exact, it was a week ago, give me a break if it doesn't make complete sense now that I'm fully awake. Ha!
I took it to mean, though, that nothing is impossible with Him, even the things that we are convinced are immovable or unchangeable. I thought my quirks were unchangeable because I had sincerely tried to change them numerous times on my own and failed miserably every time! When the Lord decides to move in that area of our life though, nothing will stay the same. It took my invitation though, in desperation for my marriage I prayed, "Lord change Ken, and show me what You want me to do in the mean time." That is how it all started, and I am so thankful that He answered such a weak prayer. Such a misdirected prayer!
So be encouraged, if the Lord begins to touch an area of your life, and you notice increased turmoil in that area, (if you know Christ), ask the Lord what He is doing and partner with Him in it. If there is an area that you have tried to change on your own more than once and failed, start with praying about it.
Don't pray a couple prayers and then go on a mission to see it changed in the next few weeks and months (probably mostly in your own power again). Just wait, keep doing what you are doing, and every time you think about that thing you struggle with, just give it back to Him, say something like, "Look, I messed up again, would You change my mindset Lord, show me what to do next time."
You will probably fail a lot more times, but it is the process. Fruit doesn't grow overnight, which is why the Lord whispered what He did to me as I laid in bed reflecting on the year. I hadn't really thought about all the changes He had made in my 'personality' in the past year, they were so gradual and simple as they came about that I barely noticed them and I certainly didn't feel like I was being transformed. He took that time in bed to draw my attention to all the work He had been accomplishing in me, and it gave me hope for this coming year, all that He will do to transform me even more!
So I end with blessings to all who read this, Lord do in their hearts what they don't feel is even possible for them! Break in and make the changes. Find the root and eradicate it! Only with Your gentle touch is all this made possible for those who love You! Amen.