Thursday, December 30, 2010

LordSong - Hand Medley

I am not going to say much today. I am very sad and could use some real prayer support.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What are you searching for?

Today was a smack in the face. It started out fine. I had Christmas money to spend and I was determined to do so. I packed Dylan up into the car. We drove to the mall. I got to walking around looking at potential purchases. I started feeling buyers remorse. I hadn't even purchased anything. How could I? Dylan comes first. My family's needs come before mine. This money gifted to me should go to them. It was then I happened upon a friendly face. It was an acquaintance of mine. We got to chatting. She was asking about my work situation, the family, and my plans for the day. She reminded me it is okay to buy myself nice things once in awhile. I left her little pep talk thinking about her suggestion. I WAS going to do something nice for me. I checked my phone. Seeing I had a couple missed calls I went to find a spot with the highest reception. A conversation and a poopie diaper later, I left the mall with as much money as I came with. Feeling dejected for not being able to justify being nice to me, I drove home.

This season of adjustment with my husband has been extremely difficult for me. Dylan has been a game changer for us. In an effort to not turn this into a gripe fest about personal matters, I will say nothing more, except I thank those people who have helped me be more like taffy. I went searching for someone to understand tonight and found it in the words you wrote me. I am ever thankful for you. You've have given me direction. I think I'll share...

What hopes do you have? My consistent hope is to have a fulfilled life with Andy and Dylan. Ultimately I'd like to have my family serving Jesus with me. This yoke can get heavy at times.
What goals do you have? For years now, I've surrendered my goal of finishing my two-year degree for the good of my family. I want to finish. I've been working for this goal for so long, its like the air I breathe. 
What dreams do you have? I've always wanted to learn to dance. Always.When I was a wee thing, my mom, for religious reasons thought it inappropriate and too expensive. Now that I'm older, it's still too expensive.
When do you most feel fulfilled? I feel the most fulfilled when I am signing, doing genealogy research, or alone taking pictures.
What are you searching for? I am looking for a peaceful secure life. I'd like a little adventure to keep things interesting. I'd like to have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I want to know I've done something to better my environment. Knowing I can't control others, I'd like to just find joy in my daily activities. I long for that ever elusive peace. I don't recall a time in my life where I wasn't walking a tight rope. I want to just fall. I fear that if I do that tight rope will hang me. I soooo exhausted in every way. I want to run again. I want to know who I am. I want to give up. I am tired of trying to please people. I don't know how to live without having to attain approval. I've done it for as long as I can recall. I think it'd be so freeing to not care for just a few hours. I hear my mom in my head often saying, "Dana- you are not an island unto yourself. Your choices WILL effect others." I want my soul to say I am free...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Missing Identity

Have you ever felt like you were missing in action or on auto pilot? I've tried to follow the advice of an old friend who told me a few years ago, " Dana, the best thing you can do for yourself is to always be present in the right now. Just be present."  I've thought about that statement often. How do I bring ALL of myself into this moment in time?

It is a challenge. Being present means being honest with yourself always, however you may not always be okay with you 100% of the time. I'll admit while I've done an just below apt job at following this advice. I still feel rather out of place. I'm never 100% comfortable. I feel like a visitor to my life most of the time.

Its like I keep searching for the one place I can truly call home. I'm not sure if the totally-present-in-the-here-and-now feeling comes with being contented in your own skin or if you find it else where. I have certainly had my centered moments. They stand up tall to be noticed amongst the other happenings over my life. I look to those moments like old sailors looked to the North Star or the pioneers looked at Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock from National Geographic
Get The Complete National Geographic - Every Issue since 1888
Those are the moments when I dived in head first, I took a risk, or I tried something new. I know I will have my off days in the future, but I'm ready to find my at home feeling. I'd like to be completely relaxed. Being at peace when my world isn't. Hopefully I'll get to that place soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It is Christmas Day. I sat this morning to watch Dylan on his first Christmas. He did his best to open the presents we bought him. He spent most of his time distracted by the paper and the noise it made. I started to think about that in the wider scope of the world.

Every person on earth, but especially in America, has equal opportunity to make something of themselves. They have choices to make. They can be free if they choose. They can be educated in the finest schools if they choose. They can have the career of their dreams. They can have the family they desire. They can have a fulfilled life. Its all in the choices we are presented.

I find though many who get distracted by the packaging of their lives. They may have been born into poverty. They may have born into a family whose ancestors were enslaved. The person may have been born into a family who had their land taken from them. They made a few bad decisions along the way and they've been shown them a  new path. There are hundreds of ways we as humans can destroy or have our futures upset. All I want to know is what you are going to do about it? What will YOU choose to do with the options before you? Will you play the victim? Or will YOU be a phoenix raising from the ashes? Will you choose to see the gift inside the package or just focus on the wrapping it came in?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sorry for not posting something original these days, but my email has been "speaking" to me...

For those of you who do not know Beth Moore, she is an outstanding Bible teacher, writer of Bible studies, and is a married mother of two daughters.
This is one of her experiences:
April 20, 2005, at the Airport in Knoxville , waiting to board the plane, I had the Bible on my lap and was very intent upon what I was doing. I'd had a marvelous morning with the Lord. I say this because I want to tell you it is a scary thing to have the Spirit of God really working in you.
You could end up doing some things you never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a thousand reasons, not the least of which is your ego.
I tried to keep from staring, but he was such a strange sight. Humped over in a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier. His knees protruded from his trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coat hanger was still in his shirt.. His hands looked like tangled masses of veins and bones.
The strangest part of him was his hair and nails. Stringy, gray hair hung well over his shoulders and down part of his back. His fingernails were long, clean but strangely out of place on an old man.
I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning my face. As I tried to imagine what his story might have been, I found myself wondering if I'd just had a Howard Hughes sighting. Then, I remembered that he was dead. So this man in the airport... An impersonator maybe? Was a camera on us somewhere? There I sat; trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned about a thin slice of humanity served up on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. All the while, my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling for him.
Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern, and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-looking old man..
I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something so contrary to my natural feelings, something dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be embarrassing.
I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on my spirit and I started arguing with God in my mind. 'Oh, no, God, please, no.' I looked up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through it into heaven and said, 'Don't make me witness to this man. Not right here and now. Please. I'll do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don't make me get up here and witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!'
There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness, 'Please don't make me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane. Then I heard it...'I don't want you to witness to him I want you to brush his hair.'
The words were so clear, my heart leapt into my throat, and my thoughts spun like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No-brainer. I looked straight back up at the ceiling and said, 'God, as I live and breathe, I want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm on this Lord. I'm your girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a man faster in your life. What difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am going to witness to this man.'
Again, as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statement across the wall of my mind. 'That is not what I said, Beth. I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair.'
I looked up at God and quipped, 'I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the plane. How am I supposed to brush his hair without a hairbrush?'
God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began to walk toward him as these thoughts came to me from God's word: 'I will thoroughly furnish you unto all good works.' (2 Timothy 3:17)
I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I could use one myself. Even as I retell this story, my pulse quickens and I feel those same butterflies. I knelt down in front of the man and asked as demurely as possible, 'Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?'
He looked back at me and said, 'What did you say?'
'May I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?'
To which he responded in volume ten, 'Little lady, if you expect me to hear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that.'
At this point, I took a deep breath and blurted out, 'SIR, MAY I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?' At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Long Locks. Face crimson and forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute shock on his face, and say, 'If you really want to.'
Are you kidding? Of course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested in my personal preference right about then. He pressed on my heart until I could utter the words, 'Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little problem. I don't have a hairbrush.'
'I have one in my bag,' he responded.
I went around to the back of that wheelchair, and I got on my hands and knees and unzipped the stranger's old carry-on, hardly believing what I was doing. I stood up and started brushing the old man's hair. It was perfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't do many things well, but must admit I've had notable experience untangling knotted hair mothering two little girls. Like I'd done with either Amanda or Melissa in such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the strands, remembering to take my time not to pull. A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. Everybody else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those moments except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until every tangle was out of that hair. I know this sounds so strange, but I've never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart, I - for that few minutes - felt a portion of the very love of God. That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while..
The emotions were so strong and so pure that I knew they had to be God's. His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's.
I slipped the brush back in the bag and went around the chair to face him. I got back down on my knees, put my hands on his knee and said, 'Sir, do you know my Jesus?'
He said, 'Yes, I do.' Well, that figures, I thought.
He explained, 'I've known Him since I married my bride. She wouldn't marry me until I got to know the Savior.' He said, 'You see, the problem is, I haven't seen my bride in months. I've had open-heart surgery, and she's been too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself, what a mess I must be for my bride.'
Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when we're completely unaware of the significance.This, on the other hand, was one of those rare encounters when I knew God had intervened in details only He could have known. It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it.
Our time came to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd acted earlier and would have been so proud to have accompanied him on that aircraft.
I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my things to board, the airline hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down her cheeks. She said, 'That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing.'
'Why did you do that? What made you do that?'
I said, 'Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!'
And we got to share.
I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted, you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to move on but you feel too responsible to budge. He knows if you're hurting or feeling rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees you as an individual. Tell Him your need!
I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how many opportunities just like that one had I missed along the way... all because I didn't want people to think I was strange.
God didn't send me to that old man. He sent that old man to me.
Please share this wonderful story. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

FLY= Finally Love Yourself

Thanks to the FLYlady who has given me the tools to a peaceful home with her helpful reminders. If you have no idea who I am talking about, check her out at my other favorite lady besides myself. Her gentle reminder today was a favorite scripture of mine: soft words turn away anger. I shall let her say it best.

Dear Friends,

All of our lives we have spent putting out fires. These fires were started by our perfectionism and our procrastination. Along with panic of these fires come the squeals of martyrdom and yells of dissatisfaction. We have all done this and it is our family who have had listen to it.

Why do we torture our family with hurtful words? I can tell you why! You are so stressed out and feeling like a martyr! This has got to stop! I can help you get rid of the stress, but it us up to you to curb those angry words. The first steps is to follow our directions for your routines, getting dressed to shoes, hair and face.

It is up to you to change your attitude toward your family! Once you change your martyred outlook to one of blessing your family and giving teaching moments, you will see a change in them. I know that you don't believe me, but you can only change yourself. It is by your example that your family will begin to help and support your efforts to secure a peaceful home.

What does your wicked tongue do to your children, your husband and most of all you. It doesn't tell them you love them. It makes them feel less than; it hurts their self-worth. They feel that they have no say in things. It makes your husband feel that he is married to his mother! I don't even want to go there. They feel like servants, instead of family members. Those harsh words are worse than a whipping. You cut your family out of the conversational loop. The family cant even say what is on their mind because they are afraid of you. Home life is based on the fear of not making mother mad. Your family members hide from you. They become afraid to tell you when something happens.

After those words have come from your lips, just how do you feel then? Do you feel laden with guilt or do you even realize you are barking nasty remarks their way. Oblivious to the torture you have inflicted upon your loved ones.

There is absolutely no excuse for this. I don't want to hear that this is the only way I can get my family to do anything. This is the lie that you tell yourself to not feel guilty. It is time to forgive yourself and then ask them to forgive you.

Many times in our lives we are faced with things that are difficult. As sidetracked people we allow our perfectionism to hurt us and our children. We just do not know that is what is causing us to be raving banshees.

Now you have a chance to change by taking actions. You may not have known how to change in the past but you are learning. Take these words into your heart and forgive yourself. You know the things you have said. This can be the beginning of a new relationship with your family.

I would like to suggest that you start writing your feelings down too. Not just the pain you are feeling but how you can change. First you have to forgive yourself. You are just learning these things; the more you write the more you will discover about yourself. You are not expected to be perfect. Love yourself enough to take these words and go forward from here. This is not the end but the beginning of a new life. After you forgive yourself and get in touch with your own feelings; then you can ask for forgiveness. My heart goes out to you! My prayers are with you and your whole family.

You can do this; you found us because you were looking for a change in your life. You are willing to make changes.

Your tongue can criticize or it can encourage. The choice is all yours. If you have not changed your attitude, then how can you expect to see a change in them. It has to come from the heart. If not they will see right through you. They may not even believe it at first, because you will not be sounding like the mother that have been used to all your life. The children may think the aliens have taken their real mother away. Prove to them and their father that you have changed. Sprinkle your words of love, encouragement and teaching, all over your home. Apologize for your tongue. Don't play the martyr game anymore. No one loves a martyr. Not even you!

It time to FLY without the Guilt; forgive yourself!


Sesame Street:'s Song "What I Am"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Picture this...

Take a little journey with me if you will for a moment. We are in a park. There is snow on the ground and the trees are bare of their summer time greenery. There is a skinny little kid with a huge net slug over his shoulder. There are tagged packages of various shapes, colors and sizes in the full net. Determination is set on this child's face. He must continue on.  In front of him lies a frozen pond of thin ice. The snow is too deep to go around the pond. His only option is over the precarious ice. He steps out gingerly thinking He can trust solid ground to be his reward soon. He moves with great caution and wisdom testing his footing before each full step. He hears the eerie creek and grown of the ice. He still presses onward keeping his eyes focused on the shore, sure footing. He takes a quick check over his shoulder. People have gone this way before from the looks of it made it safely too. There is a trail up ahead waiting for him. These packages are heavy. He must deliver them to the unloading crew, who are waiting for him. Hope is keeping him warm today. He will get there. He must keep moving...

This is what I feel like these days. My packages are getting heavy. They all have names: fear, loneliness, expectations of others/self, change, hopes, maintenance of blessings, dashed hopes, surrender, dreams, work, finding new work, money, & future. I know I must keep moving on. Its what I know best. I may run in circles, but I can't win if I don't try, yes? I just want to find a nice tree to sit under until spring arrives for me again. I am so tired from my journey thus far. This ice could crack with the wrong step. If I fell through, I'd have to see a different kind of world. Arg! Who knows????!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An email from the FLYlady's cohorts to my inbox

By Pam Young

I was at Michael's (the craft store) in the late afternoon when I heard a conversation in the next isle between a mother and her six-year-old child.

"Oh, Mama, look at this!"

"Uh huh."

"I love this!!"

"Uh huh."

"I have one don't I!!!"

"Uh huh."

"You made it for me didn't you Mama!!!!"

"Uh huh."

As I listened to the excitement and love for her mother in the child's voice and the drone of her mother's responses, tears welled up in my eyes. I thought about how many times I'd done the same thing with my children when they were young. After all, I had a centerpiece to make, a decoration for the coffee table to think about, colors to consider, people to impress and not enough time! At that moment in Michael's I would have given anything to go back to just one time in the isle of a store, hear my child's voice and not miss what was really happening. Love, joy adoration. The stuff of Christmas! 

My kids are grown now and I'll never again hear their little bell voices exclaiming their joy over something. That time is gone forever.

I had to get to the next isle and see the child! With tears streaming down my cheeks, I peeked around the corner and looked at the small girl's happy little face. She had a dress on and her hair was dark brown in shoulder-length curls. She was holding a Christmas stocking with a Santa Claus on it. She looked up and smiled at me. Then I looked at her mother. She was tired; I could see it in her eyes. But when she looked into mine she smiled seeing my love for her child and the moment.

I told her what had gone through my mind listening to their conversation. Her tears started to collect and she said, "Now you're making me cry." She dabbed her eye with the back of her wrist, "Thank you, I needed to hear this. I get so busy and it's easy to neglect her natural enthusiasm." I told the mother it was obvious that the child had not been neglected, because she was such a happy little girl, and that I understood how easy it was to get wrapped up in our own thoughts and miss these holy moments.

I left Michael's knowing I wanted to write about this. Your children adore you and they are like little joy dispensers, especially during this time of year. Since it is also an especially busy time for you, it can be so easy to miss those gifts of love and joy your children are eager to give to you. They are gifts that can't be wrapped up with festive paper or charged on American Express. Stay awake! This is a holy time. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Here's something I wrote a while ago...

I'm sitting here alone in my living room of my apartment. The lights are off and the glow from the computer screen is illuminating the dark places. The blinds are softly clicking together as the air from the humming fans hit them. The night is cool and inviting me to join it. 

It's nights like this when I am transported back in time to the summer when I was 17. My parents were separated and change was all around me. We never had a specific time in my parents house when the lights went out, so I'd often be the last one asleep. 

My park

After my dad moved out, I often sneak out of the house. I'd sprint up to the park on a cool crisp night like tonight. It was as if I was running for my life. I was chasing away the helplessness that comes with change beyond our control. I'd go swing back and forth staring at how my toes would touch the stars. I'd stay in the park with the street light glowing until my skin was cold to the touch. I rarely wanted to leave the freedom I had there in those moments. I had chased the nagging thoughts away. I could make it one more night. I could do one more day. The goals I'd set for myself were attainable there. I'd walk back to my house and quietly return to my room. I'd sink into my warm water bed drifting into dreamlessness.

I am no longer 17. I find change to be inviable- negative and/or positive. I would not need to sneak out any longer. I have more responsibilities than I ever had before. At times I miss the girl I was, but not her problems. And still the night beckons...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meyer Briggs Personality Test

This morning I decided to take this personality test. It was rather interesting. Here are my results:

Strength of the preferences %

    Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
    by Joe Butt

    Profile: INFJ
    Revision: 3.1
    Date of Revision: 8 Aug 2010

    Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.
    INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ.
    "There's something rotten in Denmark." Accurately suspicious about others' motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.
    INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately.
    Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.
    Introverted iNtuition
    Introverted intuitives, INFJs enjoy a greater clarity of perception of inner, unconscious processes than all but their INTJ cousins. Just as SP types commune with the object and "live in the here and now" of the physical world, INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Unlike the confining, routinizing nature of introverted sensing, introverted intuition frees this type to act insightfully and spontaneously as unique solutions arise on an event by event basis.
    Extraverted Feeling
    Extraverted feeling, the auxiliary deciding function, expresses a range of emotion and opinions of, for and about people. INFJs, like many other FJ types, find themselves caught between the desire to express their wealth of feelings and moral conclusions about the actions and attitudes of others, and the awareness of the consequences of unbridled candor. Some vent the attending emotions in private, to trusted allies. Such confidants are chosen with care, for INFJs are well aware of the treachery that can reside in the hearts of mortals. This particular combination of introverted intuition and extraverted feeling provides INFJs with the raw material from which perceptive counselors are shaped.
    Introverted Thinking
    The INFJ's thinking is introverted, turned toward the subject. Perhaps it is when the INFJ's thinking function is operative that he is most aloof. A comrade might surmise that such detachment signals a disillusionment, that she has also been found lacking by the sardonic eye of this one who plumbs the depths of the human spirit. Experience suggests that such distancing is merely an indication that the seer is hard at work and focusing energy into this less efficient tertiary function.
    Extraverted Sensing
    INFJs are twice blessed with clarity of vision, both internal and external. Just as they possess inner vision which is drawn to the forms of the unconscious, they also have external sensing perception which readily takes hold of worldly objects. Sensing, however, is the weakest of the INFJ's arsenal and the most vulnerable. INFJs, like their fellow intuitives, may be so absorbed in intuitive perceiving that they become oblivious to physical reality. The INFJ under stress may fall prey to various forms of immediate gratification. Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the "SP wannabe" side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously; it's not uncommon for INFJ actors to take on an SP (often ESTP) role.
    Famous INFJs:
    Nathan, prophet of Israel
    Robert Burns, Scottish poet
    U.S. Presidents:
    Martin Van Buren
    James Earl "Jimmy" Carter
    Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Fanny Crosby, (blind) hymnist
    Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    Fred McMurray (My Three Sons)
    Shirley Temple Black, child actor, ambassador
    Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, martyr
    James Reston, newspaper reporter
    Shirley MacLaine (Sweet Charity, ...)
    Piers Anthony, author ("Xanth" series)
    Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie)
    Tom Selleck
    John Katz, critic, author
    Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary)
    U. S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL)
    Billy Crystal
    Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury)
    Nelson Mandela
    Mel Gibson
    Carrie Fisher
    Nicole Kidman
    Jerry Seinfeld
    Jamie Foxx
    Sela Ward
    Mark Harmon
    Gary Dourdan
    Marg Helgaberger
    Evangeline Lilly
    Tori May

    Introverted iNtuiting Feeling Judging
    by Marina Margaret Heiss
    INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.
    INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.
    Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).
    This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.
    Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.
    In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually "blurrier" than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted -- yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.
    Copyright © 1996-2010 by Marina Margaret Heiss and Joe Butt