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Personality provides hints and clues into identity. God knows everything, so He knows us completely. But for us, life is an indefinite discovery process to understand the depths of who we are as well as who God is.
A person’s identity is internal. As you get to know someone, you see the outward expression of her identity. Interacting with others reveals personality over time.
People are living beings, so they are continuously changing. Thus, you can never exhaustively know someone. However, this doesn’t mean that a person can become anything she wants to be. Even though she is growing, there is direction to the growth; there is a definite destination.
As you learn who you are, you can be confident in what you find, with some exceptions like maturity and mood.
Personality is Different than Maturity
Each person is diverse and complicated but also knowable. People will respond differently to different stimuli. So while every day can be different, over time, patterns will emerge. The younger people are, the more they are in an experimental phase of life. Just because you observe someone acting outgoing one day, doesn’t mean that is normal for her. Maybe for the next nine days, she will be more withdrawn. It is the long-term pattern that matters.
If you flip a penny one time and it lands on tails, you would be wrong to conclude that the penny is biased to land on tails. You must flip it a significantly large number of times to determine its character (its bias or outcome that is consistently predictable).
Likewise, it is essential to make observations over a significantly large time when determining a person’s character. Personality can change over time, but that is only because of the maturation process, not because personality is fluid. New experiences can encourage unexpressed parts of personality to emerge, but as with coin flipping, more experiences will result in a person’s awareness of her personality becoming more certain, not less certain.
Personality is Different than Mood
If you are sad one day, that doesn’t define your personality. Mood is highly correlated to circumstances, as it should be. Emotions indicate what is going on inside, but this is strictly based on what circumstances are prevailing.
There is no such thing as an “anxious personality.” God didn’t design anyone to be fearful. God wants everyone to experience peace. Some people might be more pessimistic or cautious, but that is different than fear.
Some people might be more pensive (contemplative) but that’s different than depressed. Words like anxiety or depression indicate that something is broken. We know that in heaven, nothing will be broken. So, despair or horror is only possible when God is absent. Hopelessness is negative. But sadness can exist in the context of hope. If your favorite person dies, and you know she has a relationship with God, you can know you will see her again someday.
Anything that is based on sin, the curse, or evil is not a part of personality. It is temporary. Don’t consider your personality to be associated with circumstances. Negative circumstances will eventually improve (if only in the next life for believers – see Romans 8). But all the good things about who you are is constant.
Personality Grows Out of Identity
Identity is like a seed that is planted. Personality is like the root system, stem, branches, flowers, or fruit that grows from the seed. The seed is planted and it grows into what God programmed into the seed. The seed cannot self-determine to grow in ways it was not designed.
Likewise, God plants us and we grow into exactly who He intends. It is our limited experiences of life that make life interesting. God may know everything, but we don’t. I suspect that God delights in relating to creation because He is love. He can love us and lead us into truth. Meanwhile, we can enjoy the journey of discovering who He made us to be.