A Matter of Faith

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 18 Comments A+ a-

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Hey, guys! Come on in...the Cafe is warm and and cozy today. Got a crackling fire, a hot cup of coffee, and a couple of sweet pups curled up beside me. Outside, the wind is howling ferociously, hammering at the doors and windows. But we're all good in here.

This peaceful ambience was meant to help me do some reflecting. A few areas of my life have been neglected of late, and I've been getting those funny little prompts. You know the ones...they pop up in e-mails or conversations, or random magazine articles, and usually in groups of three. I had that happen once with carbon monoxide detectors. Saw them on television, then in a magazine, and finally on an endcap in a grocery store. I took the hint and bought one, and a couple of days later, it saved my life.

Cool, right?

Anyway, life has been prompting me about my spiritual growth. Or rather, lack thereof. And after the third prompt today, I decided to give the matter some thought.

I haven't had a church home in about a year. Part of that is because it's hard for me to find one that isn't predictable or glaringly flawed. I realize that might sound harsh, but my INFJ brain won't allow me to be otherwise. While other newcomers are are shaking hands and smiling, my Se is busy picking up patterns and spotting weaknesses (the building, the program, the music). It's simply a defense mechanism, and if there's anything about the place that suggests an ulterior motive--like they're trying to brainwash me or guilt me into giving money--I won't go back.

Not all churches are like that. Some are quite nice, with good-hearted people who desire to spread compassion and love and goodwill. After spending time there, you end up making friends you can trust and lean on when life gets tough. I had that at one time. Without it, my intuition and desire to respond with compassion are suffering.

And I can see, by looking into this crackling fire, how I've lost some of my spark. The embers that roll to the edges don't glow anymore. They smoke a little on their own for a while, but eventually--without the benefit of the flames--they fizzle into cold darkness.

The same holds true with faith. To stay strong, you need to stick close to the source. My biggest problem, though, is that I approach it with more than one perspective. Yes, deep inside me lies a child of faith with a twirly dress who always believes and never questions. But she's not alone. There are others with her, like the scientist who stands around in his pristine lab coat demanding proof of everything. And the nerd who asks the questions no one can answer. And the secret agent who thinks the whole thing is just one big freaking conspiracy.

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Wherever I go, my crew goes. So while I might look all calm and serene sitting in that comfy church chair, it's not really the truth. The truth is there's a constant debate going on inside my head that very few would understand or relate to. For me, spirituality is a hard balance to maintain.

But life doesn't prompt me without good reason. My embers are still smoking, and I have the feeling they need to roll a little closer to the flames. I believe it will happen. Sometime this year, I'll be in a new city with lots of opportunities to find a church family...and renew the faith in my heart and soul.

How about you? Do your INFJ superpowers fade when faith runs low? Does life prompt you in three's to change your ways? Feel free to share the magic and mystery of your own spiritual journey.

Blessings to all :)

18 comments

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tommyab
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January 28, 2015 at 10:24 PM delete

I have been led more and more to contemplate the mystery of incarnation. I read somewhere that the "NF" personalities can be labeled as "augustinian": passionate, intuitive, tendency to "disincarnate", deep insight, ... and that the "spiritual cure" to help them with the faith is to contemplate and enact the mysteries of incarnation.

For me, I was raised evangelical, and became more and more cynical about it and an adept of some conspiracy theory about church history (which goes somehow like this:.... it went wrong somewhere... until now... that I have the biblw in my hand, I am going to discover the truth that everybody before me missed...)

(I exagerate... but you get the picture....)

... all this disapointment until I started to meditate on the mystery of the eucharist, which is, according to the catholics, a "kind" of incarnation. It blew my world, ... and I might one day become a catholic, contemplating without ever exhausting it, the beauty and truth and goodness of God who became flesh, and still becomes flesh today in the eucharist.

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Wawoo
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January 29, 2015 at 12:30 PM delete

I have struggled with "church" for my entire adult life. Raised Catholic, there's only one church to choose: the local Catholic Church! I am a spiritual and faith-filled person, but "church" is so NOT me. I am/can be a spirit-filled, Christ follower without the religion. Church is a community I simply do not need, desire or embrace. I live as example -- don't need the "church."
You've said much of what I've been feeling for the last 25 years beautifully.

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Marissa Baker
AUTHOR
January 29, 2015 at 2:50 PM delete

Thank you for this post! INFJs and spirituality are two of my favorite topics :)

I recently started attending with a Messianic church, and I'm so excited about this group that I find myself in a "child of faith with a twirly dress" phase right now. I grew up in a group that kept the 7th-day Sabbath, so it's not extremely different, but the scientist and nerd parts of me still keep asking questions about whether or not I agree with all their teachings. I kinda like those parts of me, though, since they keep me from just accepting new things blindly.

My faith is so much a part of me, and most certainly does affect me as an INFJ. When I feel like I'm drifting away from God and running low on faith, I'm less able to read people, sympathize, be creative, and just generally cope with the world. I feel like the good parts of my personality are harder to access, and it's depressing.

I hope you find the church home you're looking for. I find it much easier to keep your own fire for the Lord going when surrounded by other believers.

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Elizabeth
AUTHOR
January 29, 2015 at 10:29 PM delete

Hi! I apologize for this short comment but I need to hit the hay. You might like Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. They are an apologetics ministry that takes both a very intellectual and a very caring approach to things. My husband and I listen to their podcasts and have even just started a video series of theirs. I truly appreciate their approach to faith conversations.

Just wanted to pass that on, from one INFJ to another!

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
January 30, 2015 at 5:55 AM delete

Hello everyone! I was also told this week that I am such calm and serene person. Yeah, on the outside, because I mostly keep my mouth shut and really wouldn't be able to express all the contradictions inside of me. I myself haven't been to church in quite some time now. And, just like you said, even though I know that somewhere in my heart there is this never-ending, sublime faith on which I build everything else (including my doubting Thomas experiments) I have been unable to access it lately. I know the solution is simple in my case : just go already to the church!, yet I feel like I am unable to treat believers with the same courtesy as I treat those whom I know not to have the Christian world-view system. It's like Emerson put it: "If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument." So, I feel so isolated from both parts. On the one hand, I can't relate to Christians because I find them shallow, offering the same canned solutions for everything and everyone. On the other, I cannot completely submerge in other non-Christian contexts because "The life appeared; I have seen it" (1 John) and this life is not there. So... I wrote something here hoping to feel better. I feel a little better now, knowing I am not the only one. Thank you!

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 30, 2015 at 11:55 AM delete

Church isn't really me, either. I'm much more interested in relationship than religion (which is often run like a business and used for personal agendas). As much time as I spend alone, I need some like-minded friends who will love and support my feelings about Christ. :)

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM delete

I love your comment about not accepting new things blindly. Am totally the same way (thanks to the crew in my head). This makes it hard to talk to people about my faith, because many don't have those inner nerd/scientists and get nervous when tough questions arise. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 30, 2015 at 12:01 PM delete

Thank you so much! I'll definitely check into this!

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 30, 2015 at 12:15 PM delete

You're definitely not the only one. I relate to everything you wrote. What I've found as an INFJ is that I'm constantly walking between worlds. It's like I understand them all, but can't really call any of them mine. That can get pretty frustrating, not to mention lonely. Thanks for your thoughts on this!!

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Kristine
AUTHOR
January 31, 2015 at 7:23 AM delete

Third time's a charm! This is the third time I'm typing out this story, and I should take it as a hint, but I'm going to be stubborn and type it again. I, too, get "hints" now and then. The first time I typed here, my computer needed to be restarted. The second time, while previewing I was asked to log into Google again, and my comment was lost. Usually, I would take this as a hint and stop typing - for whichever reason! These are the kinds of hints that I get very often; I am trying to do something, but for some reason, I fail again and again. It is hard to pinpoint - but it feels like something is telling me to stop doing whatever I'm doing at that moment. Likewise, I subconsciously start humming or singing a particular song - or particular lines of a song - over and over again, and for some reason they always apply to a specific mood or situation. The problem is, I don't consider those hunches anything strange anymore - they are part of my life and I behave accordingly, so it's hard to remember any examples! But commenting here is definitely one... I know I could never explain this to other people, who would label me delusional, but I'm quite certain it is safe here!

The matter of faith is a bit trickier to answer. Maybe this was why I had to redo my story twice. I initially wished to comment that religion is very difficult and should be dealt with carefully, but perhaps I wasn't careful enough! I have been raised religiously, but in my early teenage years I neglected faith. I was far too busy discovering myself - or rather, being confused by myself and trying to discern my own secrets, slowly discovering bits and pieces, until I came across a personality test and found my answer in being an INFJ. Encouraged by religious friends, I tried to pick up the faith I had as a child. This child loved the stories and believed without questioning, but I discovered I could not possibly go back to that, even though I have tried. It felt like closing my eyes to all those other perspectives, just as you described them. For me, personally, I then decided that I could no longer believe. This is personal, and I would definitely not wish to force my opinion on someone else, or claim that I am right! But for me, I am simply trying to find my purpose in life, and how I can be a good person. If any God would deny me Heaven, because I have used the brain I've been given to question what cannot be known for sure, but always having tried to be a good person, then this God is not just.
Lately, I've been feeling very trapped. There are many issues that need to be addressed, but I have very little time to just "think". This is why I've felt like some sort of zombie lately - I listen to others talking, I do chores and activities, but my head is completely elsewhere. I'm so trapped in these problems and thoughts that I cannot focus on anything in the world around me. This is why I started meditating. I haven't the faintest how this "should" be done, but I just sit myself down and let my thoughts flow. Giving myself the time to think and process, without being interrupted by anything "worldly", is of great help to me!

This is, I think, everything I wished to upload the last two attempts. It is sadly not half as eloquent as the other attempts, but I hope this comment can be of help to you :)

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 31, 2015 at 8:58 AM delete

Hey there! I'm so sorry it took you three times to get your comment in here (that number...crazy, right?). It could be the moderation feature...I hate using it, but if I don't, the spammers and trolls take over. *sigh*

Thank you for sharing such an honest and heartfelt viewpoint. I totally understand how you can't go back after rationalizing and using your own personal logic to come to a conclusion. I've done this myself in many areas of my life, and it's a bittersweet experience...because it breaks my heart and frees me at the same time. So I get where you're at (and wish with all my heart that we could sit down over coffee and talk about it).

You mention feeling trapped, and I've been seeing a lot of comments about that lately. I feel it, too, and I can't go long with meditating, either. It's usually at night before I fall asleep or right when I wake up. I lower the mental boundaries and let my thoughts work themselves out. Often, I feel energy when I do this (tingling in my hands and feet) and sense that it's healing me from the inside out. Strange, maybe, but I can't deny it.

So glad you reached out with this. It reassures me that I'm not crazy and helps me embrace my INFJness even more. Hugs to you! :)

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February 1, 2015 at 10:46 AM delete

Well, this is my second day of knowing I am an INFJ, and I quite honestly believe God as brought me here. After my marriage of 15 years broke up, followed by another short but disastrous relationship that ended a few months ago, I was feeling utterly shattered and ready to exit this world. But then I called out to God in utter desperation, and begged him for answers, I thought I was crazy, that the reason things went so wrong was because i was somehow deeply flawed, I just wanted the pain to end. And then I found the test. It turns out that my ex wife was an ESFP and my later relationship an ESTP, which, of course are the polar opposite personalities of the INFJ and considered the least compatible. Suddenly I had a reference point to understand why things seemed so hard, suddenly I understood why I feel too complex and muddled up at times. For the first time in moths I feel like some clarity and inspiration has come back, the two things that I absolutely need to feel "me" and positive about my future. God has been leading me, delivering me from destructive people and helping me with the unbearable rejection and emotional pain, he has shown me who I am and that I have a future and a purpose to my life, that I am not deeply flawed, I am just uniquely put together. For the first time in my life I think I am actually starting to like who I am.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
February 1, 2015 at 11:44 AM delete

Hi there...I'm so glad you were led to the Cafe and that you've discovered you're an INFJ! It explains a lot, doesn't it? And I'm also glad that God is showing you who you truly are: a creative, idealistic, compassionate and complex person with a multi-faceted personality that society doesn't truly understand and has yet to learn how to appreciate. As an INFJ, you're a mystery to yourself and others, and that isn't a flaw. It's a gift. :)

It sounds like you've been through a lot of trauma lately, and I hope you'll find some comfort in the posts and comments here in the Cafe. Keep strong in your faith and reach out whenever you need to. Life as an INFJ can be a little perplexing, but there are great rewards and blessings, too. Your adventure is just beginning.

I'll be thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers...take care!

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Tammy
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February 7, 2015 at 7:09 PM delete

I am also an INFJ. I utilize jw.org a lot. It has good question and answer topics.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
February 22, 2015 at 8:36 AM delete

I appreciate your post. I definitely resonate with what you've written. We recently moved to a new area, and have been attending a church for the past several months. My wife and kids love it, but I'm having a hard time making friends. Because I realize that my wife and kids need to put down roots and establish relationships, I make every attempt to silence my "crew", but I feel as though I'm sacrificing my own spiritual growth for the sake of my family. Its so difficult for me to make friends, especially in a small town (and a small church) where all of the other guys grew up together/went to high school together/etc. It seems as though I'll always be "a visitor" no matter how long we stay here. My Extrovert wife and kids, however, have already established close friendships and deep relationships (and I'm truly grateful for that). I just wish it didn't have to be either/or. But again, I really appreciated your post.

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Anonymous
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February 22, 2015 at 8:38 AM delete

I'll "second" Ravi Zacharias, and also suggest R.C. Sproul / Ligonier ministries. Intellectual without sacrificing the caring aspect of faith.

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Anonymous
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February 24, 2015 at 3:57 PM delete

I am a born again, whole-hearted follower of Jesus Christ and was raised in a Christian home from the beginning. I have also had amazing, in depth biblical teaching for most of my life. I am what you would call a "reformed baptist" in doctrine and have studied doctrine and what is known as Presuppositional Apologetics and World View. Studying the doctrine as well as PA and WV is anything but shallow. It is as intellectual of a study as you can get, but it all centers around the Cross and the relationship we have with Him and with everyone else around us.

I'd like to recommend a few resources: (All of these teachers have many amazing, challenging and thought provoking sermons on Sermon Audio.)

Dr. Joe Morecraft
R.C.Sproul, Jr.
Dr. Joel Beeke
John Snyder
Paul Washer

The London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689
The Westminster Confession of Faith
The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink
The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink
Chalsedon.edu

As you continue to seek The Lord and His will for your life, especially in regards to a local church family to fellowship with, I'd like to offer a few suggestions. The first is to study the Attributes and character of God, the doctrine of the inerrantcy of Scripture, and the Doctrines of Grace. These topics alone are a lot to take in. Once you settle these things in your heart and mind, then you can look into what scripture teaches about the local church.

The second suggestion would be to look for a church that is teaching biblical doctrine and also teach it in a biblical way. (Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.) If it is glaringly against or opposed to what God's Word says, there should be red flags. If you know what you fundamentally believe doctrinally, (Orthodoxy) you will then be able to seek out churches that have the same foundational doctrines. I and my church hold to the London Baptist Confession of Faith. If I know that another church holds to this confession, then I have a good idea where the basis of their teaching and where their lives are centered.

My last suggestion or piece of advice is: That anyone who attends any church needs to remember that every single person you meet in a church is just as sinful and quirky as myself. They are in need of saving grace as much as I am. There is NO SUCH THING as a "perfect church" for anyone to attend every Sunday. But if the Word of God is not faithfully and clearly preached each Sunday, there will be even more pitfalls to try to avoid.

Scripture is plain when it says to "not forsake the assembling of the Saints" or the local Church body. It can be hard for me to find a church that I believe is doctrinally sound (Judging) but I try to be open to the flaws and issues that people have in their own lives (Intuition and Feeling). But no matter what personality type anyone is, we as Christians need the local body of Believers in our lives. They are part of Christ, as are we, if we are His, so fellowship with them, flaws and all is a blessing.

I really think that INFJs need the local body of believers, both emotionally, relationaly and spiritually. It feeds our needs on so many levels.

Right now, I'm struggling with church issues as well, but I know that being a part of a local church is essential for me to grow in faith, grace and allows me to reach out to others...

I hope this is helpful.

A.

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