If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know how devoted I am to the Myers-Briggs personality types. I’ve tried other personality-typing systems – the Enneagram, the animals, the colours – and all of them suffer from one basic flaw: my personality is not on them. The Myers-Briggs, on the other hand, provides me with a niche in which I feel eminently comfortable: I am a classic INFJ, intuitive, emotional, prone to exaggeration and metaphor. Although most tests reveal in me only a slight preference for F (Feeling) over T (Thinking), I know that I lack the precision and objectivity that characterizes the true T. I’m the kind of person who falls in love hard and fast; I am attuned to my emotions and use that awareness in my decision-making: I’m a Feeler more than a Thinker (and, really, I consider myself a fairly thinky kind of girl).
All that is true except when it comes to matters of faith. In my approach to religious belief I’m all head and no heart. Expressions of religious emotion make me uncomfortable. Technically, yes, I love Jesus – but I’m far more comfortable talking about my belief in the doctrine of the atonement or, better yet, my preference for medieval ransom-theories over the judicial model of substitutionary atonement. I read tomes on the philosophy of religion, enjoy debates about the attributes of God, and relish a good theological sermon. Give me "Immortal, Invisible" over "Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate!" any day.
For that reason, the times of greatest spiritual vitality in my life have been those in which I have been learning – in which I have been driven to worship by the discovery of new truths, ideas that challenge and reorganize all my preexisting conceptions. The problem with that approach is that at some point, heresy becomes tempting purely for the sake of novelty. Orthodoxy cannot appeal to one’s curiosity, one’s sense of intellectual adventure, in the same way that a good, creative heresy can. I don’t want to abandon my faith purely for the sake of variety, but new ideas are hard to come by within the confines of orthodox belief.
That’s why I love Veronica Mitchell so much. She writes about her faith without cliché or formula. Her words about God are new and arresting, not because they challenge or reject the tenets of orthodoxy, but rather because she goes deeper within them, uncovering new layers of wisdom. This month, she wrote about how breastfeeding her newborn daughter has renewed her appreciation for the Incarnate God:
It has become theologically fashionable to speak of God as Mother, a metaphor I haven’t much use for. But I am moved beyond words to know that God made the world in order to have a mother. I look at my tiny helpless baby and I remember God became this, too, and I rest my eyes in praise.
All I can say to that is …Perfect.