A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I read all about the four personality types in Tim LaHaye’s classic Spirit-Controlled Temperament, the original version. I duly noted the telltale signs of each type. I easily concluded that my husband-to-be was a textbook phlegmatic but I bristled at the notion that that quite possibly made me a choleric, seeing that opposites attract and all.
I didn’t want to be the know-it-all, in-your-face choleric. I wanted to be the happy, Labrador-like sanguine. Who doesn’t like to be around sanguines? Okay, sure. Sometimes you just want to slap them, but most of the time, they make life fun. They cry when you cry. They laugh when you laugh. They buy you cool birthday presents.
When they remember your birthday. . .
But jeepers! Cholerics just want to take over the planet. They are tyrants masquerading as good managers. They don’t know how to have fun. They don’t cry when you cry. They tell you everything you did wrong that got you boo-hooing in the first place. They are usually right, but that’s beside the point.
I knew I wasn’t much of a thoughtful melancholy who doesn’t get jokes nor a laissez faire phlegmatic who gets them all.
And I wasn’t a very convincing sanguine.
But I was sure to the core that there wasn’t a choleric strand of any kind in my personality threads. Not one.
I ddin’t want to be Slytherin. I wanted to be Gryffindor.
So for the next 27 years I thought of myself as just a very decaffeinated sanguine. It didn’t occur to me that such a thing does not exist. Sanguines by their very nature are perpetually energized.
This past weekend, though, I heard Marita Littauer speak on these oh-so-familiar personality types. Get this. Three decades later, they are still the same. Happy sanguines, dominating cholerics, analyzing melancholys and laid-back phlegmatics. I reacquainted myself with the weaknesses and strengths of each. I considered the phlegmatic man I married and the notion that he would most naturally be attracted to a choleric, and that a choleric would find him likewise attractive.
I mused on the choleric’s good points. I pondered the bad. I began to squirm in my seat. Then I remembered something Marita said at the beginning of her talk: Jesus exemplified the strengths of all four temperaments and none of the weaknesses.
Well, there you go. I want to be like Jesus. We’re supposed to be like Jesus. I can be all of the personality types. All the parts that are good. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
So. That’s that. At last I can say I don’t have to be who I don’t want to be.
And don’t bother telling me that’s not how it works.
You’re not the boss of me.