Divergent_book_coverWhat comic book character are you? If you were a fruit, what would you be? Take this test to figure out what Disney Princess you are most like. What does your dialect say about you? What TV show or movie to you belong in? Oh, the ever-popular personality tests… How I do not like taking them! In addition to the silly quizzes found online, there are also some serious tests. Between counseling classes, work, and premarital counseling, I have taken my fair share of the DISC Assessment, Myers Briggs, and others.

Recently, I finished reading the first book of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I really enjoyed it; partially, because I felt I could really identify with the main character. Without spoiling the book, I’ll just explain the main idea of the story. It takes place sometime in the fictitious future where people have been split into five different factions based on what they value most. The Abnegation are selfless, Dauntless value bravery, Erudite focus on knowledge, Candor are honest, and Amity value peace. At age 16, everyone is required to take an assessment, which will tell them for what faction they are most fit. They must then decide if they will choose to go to another faction or stay with their family. The main character, Tris, was caught in the middle. She did not fit in any one faction more than the other, and they gave her the label of Divergent. She must then wrestle with that outcome, because the world does not appreciate it. Instead, they want everyone to fit into one category.

I have often despised having a label, and I don’t like giving them to others, either. While I understand their purpose within some settings, they can also have negative effects on people. Because a person has been labeled as a certain personality, they are now expected to act a certain way or do certain things. The same goes for other labels that society or doctors give, like depressed or awkward. All the sudden, that is who the person is. They begin to think of themselves a specific way, and others think of them in that way. What happens, though, when that person doesn’t truly fit everything about that label? When someone says that I am a particular personality, I feel I have now been labeled and certain things are expected of me. If all those things were true, I wouldn’t have much of a problem. However, they are not all true. I also have tendencies toward other personalities, too. Does this mean I don’t know who I am?

The first time I took the DISC Assessment, and recorded my results as almost in the middle (all levels were about the same), I was told by the test administrator that I apparently “do not know myself.” A couple years later, I took it again with basically the same results. And again, a few years later, I had only slightly moved. In fact, my movement was even closer to the middle of the pack. Other types of tests often offer similar results.

After reading the book and then talking to a trusted friend, I realized that I am  wired differently. (No big surprise!) While most people can find themselves with tendencies toward one personality or way of thinking more than another, I tend to gravitate toward the middle. Hmmm… This sounds familiar. She described me as adaptable. If I need to be a team player, I will be. If I need to be the leader, I will be. If I need to be the enthusiastic one, that can be me as well. If I need to research something, I can do that. As I write this, though, I struggle, because I don’t want this to come across as arrogant or self-righteous. That is definitely not my purpose. Instead, I am sharing this, because of my newfound self-awareness. Just like Tris, in the book, I am what that world would call Divergent. I do not like being pinned to a specific “faction.” Instead, I like to be free to adapt in various situations.

I have realized, though, that this can come back to bite me, if I am not careful. While I am adaptable, there are some things that I am certainly not. However, these are sometimes incredibly hard realities to face. My tendency to adapt make me feel as if I can do whatever is necessary for the task at hand, but that is not always the case. This is my problem. I have a desire to be everything. As one of the characters in the book said, “I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and honest.” I value being an extrovert and an introvert. I desire to be a servant and a leader. I am not perfect, though. Tris had to realize that while she also kind of wanted to be everything, there are just some things that she was not. With a personality like mine, that is sometimes hard to grasp, and it has often left me thinking, “But why can’t I be that way?” especially when that particular personality would be helpful in a certain situation.

The funny thing is that even though Trist didn’t fit in an obvious faction, she was still given a label — Divergent. Why are we so quick to give labels to everyone? Yes, we want to understand ourselves, understand each other, and work better with our teams. While the intentions are mostly good, I think those labels can also have negative results.

So, let’s get biblical. What does the Apostle Paul really mean when he says these words in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV):

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

Is Paul also what the book would call Divergent? Perhaps. So, should we follow his lead and try to be all things to all people? Here is the conclusion I have come to for now… While that is a lofty goal, most of us are probably not able to truly be “all things.” Some can do it more than others, but few will be able to do it all. So, the answer, in my opinion, lies in the first and last lines. Paul identified with no one so that he could try to identify with everyone, because we all have the same need — a Savior. Further, everything we do should be for the sake of the Gospel. So, while the world may throw a specific label on you, don’t feel as if you have to always adhere to that label. Whether you are a High D, an ESTJ, Bi-Polar, Princess Jasmine, or Dauntless, it really doesn’t matter. Let’s not get caught up in all that stuff. What matters is that Christ died for you, making you His child. Let that thought alone occupy your decisions, for that is who you are! Our actual label should be “child of God,” and that is the one we should carry with us everywhere, doing all that we can for the sake of the Gospel, so that we may share in its blessings.

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