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I have this thing for feelings. I care for them, I cultivate them, and I hold them close to my heart. I categorize them, I lay them out on the page for me to think through and dwell in. They are my most precious possessions. To the point where I don’t trust many others with them. Sometimes I don’t even know if I trust God with them.

I self identify as an ENFP (Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, & Perceiving) on the Meyers Briggs test. Before I was able to read about my personality type I didn’t really think about the way I did things was different or similar to anyone. I also didn’t question if I was feeling driven or thinking driven. All I knew was that if Anne from Anne of Green Gables was a real person we would best friends.

I don’t remember when but I separated these feelings into good and bad.

Good feelings: Love, appreciation, joy, happiness, and compassion.

Bad feelings: Anger, sadness, jealousy, shame and hurt.

I didn’t see anything wrong with my list for a long time. I was a generally happy person, I was happy to go with the flow, be spontaneous, and shower others in affection. I didn’t really think I was being anything but myself and keeping that self as happy and in tune with others as possible was the highest priority.

The problem came when I had a friend leave my life for good. All the bad feelings came rushing in with no gate to keep them back. Survive the flood was my mindset. I had predetermined that feeling sad, rejected, and ashamed were all things I didn’t and couldn’t feel, so when I felt them all at once I had to push them back. I couldn’t understand them or sit with them, I had to get them out of my body and mind as quickly as possible. This came in the form of brick-building.  

No, not literally.

I felt so alone in the painful world I had created for myself that I had to cope by pushing it all to the back of my mind and building up the walls that would keep my “good” feelings safe and keep my identity in check.

I had done everything I could to keep myself as authentic as possible, but not allowing anyone to step close enough to pick up to hurl anything at my wall. I had an uncanny ability to know what each person was feeling and what they wanted when I entered a space. So The first thing I did was work to make them at ease and feel like they belonged, even though I was left with their feelings and emotions long after they had left the room.  To say this affected my relationship to friends, family, and God, is a dramatic understatement.

I wasn’t interested in God’s love because I knew it would bring out the “bad” feelings again, and I couldn’t afford to lose my “good” feelings in the process. There were many times God had “knocked,” -tested my walls for weak points, and every time I would double-down my defenses.

It took reading an online personality profile for me to recognize some profound things about myself, things that I had acted out without recognizing why, and things God had been trying to tell me all along when I was stubborn.

Apparently, ENFP’s have need to feel that they are living their lives as their truest self.

So when I had cultivated my list of “good” and “bad” feelings, I felt that when the “bad” feelings came I wasn’t being my truest self and that felt even worse.

ENFP’s have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level.

So those times when all I wanted to do was please others and be my best self, was because I was processing other people’s emotions and trying to fit what I knew about them into what I would want of others if I had let them close enough.

The most mind-blowing and completely accurate piece of insight came from the second sentence.

The ENFP’s primary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them.

This was when I knew God was speaking. My whole life had been oriented around how my feelings were “good” or “bad” so when I didn’t allow myself the opportunity to feel the “bad” feelings I was denying myself a necessary part of my personality. Feeling. Good or bad, I needed to process them as they came, but because I didn’t enjoy feeling the “bad” feelings, I had denied an entire part of my identity the opportunity to be.

This by no means means that I have everything sorted from the “good” and the “bad” but I’m learning to rename these feelings, and understand that they all offer value and opportunity for growth. I am learning to ask God first, why is this feeling here now? What caused this feeling? Is this something we can process together?

These questions are how I discern my feelings now, by recognizing, naming, and processing together with the one who knows me best. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Devon Johnson

My favorite things include spelling things with a British "u", Spider-man is my life partner, and I have an addiction to traveling. I get told that I look a lot like "that one girl from La La Land" and I currently run a magazine called Whilst. I love Jesus and I'm so thankful He's my real life partner. @devonanne2015 @whilstmagazine

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