Sunday, October 17, 2010

Straight A's in aging

This is the fifth of a seven-part series on AGING WITH GRACE.
For I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. – Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)
In preparation for an upcoming speakers’ seminar, I completed a personality profile. The strengths section was fairly easy. Determining my weaknesses, though, was a different story. None of the four choices for each of the 20 lines seemed to fit me. I’d think, “I used to be this way, but I’m not anymore.”
My personality type? The “perfect melancholy.”
Schedule-oriented, orderly and organized, the perfect melancholy is a detail person, persistent, thorough, accurate, and sincere. PMs are good with planning, explaining the facts, and keeping the records straight, but can get lost in the details and become too easily distracted and critical.
My husband, on the other hand, is a “peaceful phlegmatic.” A support person, this personality type is good at staying calm and functional amid chaos, and not overreacting to a negative situation. While the perfect melancholy needs order and understanding, the peaceful phlegmatic craves rest and quiet.
Imagine someone who wants everything perfect living with someone for whom the details don’t matter. The uptight living with the easygoing. I run late because I have to fold the quilt on the sofa, fluff the throw pillows, take the hanger off the bed, empty the dehumidifier and put everything in its place. I want to walk into a perfect house when I come home. Hubby, though, doesn’t care what the place looks like when he comes in (just have supper ready, please) but wants to be on time for things.
Knowing my personality type has helped me to accept myself the way God created me. And recognizing my husband’s personality type has given me insight into what makes him tick. Our marriage has lasted 37 years because we’ve learned to adapt to each other and to circumstances.
This is the fourth secret to aging with grace: accepting yourself and others the way you were created and adapting to situations that come into your life, especially ones  that cannot be changed.
Both Joseph and Paul found themselves in prison, not because of anything they’d done wrong but because of what they did right. To survive, they learned to accept and adapt. The key to accepting, adapting, and learning to be content with what you hadn’t planned and didn’t want, is knowing that you are not the one in control – God is.
When I took the personality profile, I realized how much God had been working in my life, changing me. I hadn’t thought I’d changed at all. But God used hard times, unchanging circumstances, and difficult people to change me. Iron sharpening iron. Painful – but productive.
Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen. (From “The Prayer of Serenity”)     
Special-Tea: Read Philippians 4:11-13

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