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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Does God Change Our Temperaments When He Changes Our Hearts?

When one says, "The Lord has changed me!!!", does it mean that you become a totally new person, so much so, that you could barely recognize the person in front of the mirror?

The answer to that would be "YES" and "NO".

Yes, because if one is truly changed by God, the "old is gone, the new has come" (2 Cor 5:17), and so your old self (the worrisome, fearful, prideful self...) "had already been crucified with Jesus on the Cross" (Gal 2:20), and in its place is a joyful, peaceful, humble spirit, one that has "no fear of the future" (Prov 31:25)!

No, because even though one has already been changed by God, the temperament that one has been born with is still the same temperament one has to battle with, or deal with, daily.

* * * * *

According to Modern Psychology, 

Description of the 4 Primary Temperaments
John T. Cocoris, Th.M., Psy.D

The following is an overview description of the four primary temperaments.

The Choleric is an extroverted, hot-tempered, quick thinking, active, practical, strong-willed and easily annoyed person. Cholerics are self-confident, self-sufficient and very independent minded. They are decisive and opinionated and find it easy to make decisions for themselves as well as others. Cholerics tend to leave little room for negotiating. The Choleric is a visionary and seems to never run out of ideas, plans and goals, which are usually very practical. The Choleric does not require as much sleep as the other temperaments so their activity seems endless. Their activity almost always has a purpose because they are by nature result-oriented. They usually do not give in to the pressure of what others think unless they see that they cannot get the desired results. Cholerics can be crusaders against social injustice as they love to fight for a cause. Cholerics are both direct and firm when responding to others. They are slow to build relationships because results tend to be more important than people. They do not easily empathize with the feelings of others or show compassion. Cholerics think big and seek positions of authority.

The Sanguine is an extroverted, fun-loving, activity-prone, impulsive, entertaining, persuasive, easily amused and optimistic person. Sanguines are receptive and open to others and build relationships quickly. They are animated, excited and accepting of others. They will smile and talk easily and often. It is not unusual to feel as if you have known the Sanguine person  for years after only a few minutes. Sanguines are so people-oriented that they easily forget about time and are often late arriving at their destination. Sanguines get bored easily because of their orientation to social involvement, activity and general dislike for solitude. The Sanguine never lacks for friends. Their attention span is based on whether or not they are interested in the person or event. The Sanguine can change their focus or interest in an instant. Sanguines are competitive and tend to be disorganized. Unless very disciplined, the Sanguine will have difficulty controlling their emotions. They usually like sports of any kind because of the activity and involvement with other people. Their voice will show excitement and friendliness. Sanguines usually dress according to current fashion. The Sanguine fears rejection or not making a favorable impression. They also fear others viewing them as unsuccessful. Sanguines are very effective working with people.

The Phlegmatic is an introverted, calm, unemotional, easygoing, never-get-upset, person. Phlegmatics are both slow and indirect when responding to others. They are also slow to warm-up but will be accommodating in the process. Phlegmatics are by far the easiest person with which to get along. They live a quiet, routine, life, free of the normal anxieties and stresses of the other temperaments. The Phlegmatic will avoid getting too involved with people and life in general. Phlegmatics seldom exert themselves with others or push their way along in their career, they just let it happen. The Phlegmatic communicates a warm, sincere interest in others preferring to have just a few close friends. They will  be very loyal to their friends and find it difficult to break long standing relationships regardless of what the other person does. The Phlegmatic tends to resist change of any kind without reason, other than they just do not want the change to occur. Phlegmatics show little emotion and are prone to be a grudge holder. Phlegmatics tend to avoid conflict and making decisions of any kind. They are practical, concrete and traditional thinkers. Their stoic expression often hides their true feelings. The Phlegmatic may be patient to the point of paralysis. Phlegmatics are persistent and consistent at whatever they undertake.

The Melancholy is an introverted, logical, analytical, factual, private, lets-do-it-right person. Melancholies respond to others in a slow, cautious and indirect manner. Melancholies are reserved and suspicious until sure of your intentions. The Melancholy probe for the "hidden meaning" behind your words. They are timid and may appear unsure and have a serious expression. They are self-sacrificing, gifted and they tend to be a perfectionist. Melancholies are very sensitive to what others think about their work. The Melancholy is well organized; on occasion you may find a Melancholy that keeps things cluttered, however, they know what’s in the piles. The Melancholy is determined to make the right and best decision. Melancholies will ask specific questions and sometimes they will ask the same question again and again. The Melancholy needs reassurance, feedback and reasons why they should do something. They need information, time to think and a plan. The Melancholy fears taking a risk, making a wrong decision and being viewed as incompetent. Melancholies tend to have a negative attitude toward something new until they have had time to think it over. Melancholies are skeptical about most everything but they are creative and capable people. Melancholies tend to get bored with something once they get it figured out.

* * * * *
Well, I am a weird mix of sanguine and melancholic. :) 

I believe that to the person born with a "sour" and serious disposition in life, greater merits are to be gained in choosing to go counter to one's nature (to be cheerful when one is really naturally surly), than say, one born with an already sweet and cheerful countenance to begin with.

I used to think that when one has committed oneself to the Lord, one would be able to LOVE and LIKE all sorts of people, even those who could really tick one off, without any problem whatsoever. 

Well, yes we should love all human beings, especially since we would want others to see Christ in us, as we see Christ in them too, but it's not without a great deal of effort that we could love those who are really "difficult" or counter to our very personalities... the types who get us all riled up or make us "bad trip" (feel bad) without them having to do much!!!

My favorite Saint, Therese
of Liseux
Therese was named after my favorite saint.
Whenever I encounter these types of people (the ones who really rub me the wrong way without much effort!!!), I remember my favorite saint, Saint Therese of Liseux (who's the namesake of our first daughter), and how she dealt with her own "pet peeves". :)

 She who did "ordinary things with extraordinary love" and who used her "little way of confidence and love" to please God, was very human too, like you and I.

Let me share her anecdotes with you. They always make me smile. :)



The practice of charity, as I have said, dear Mother [Mother Agnes, i.e., her sister Pauline, prioress at the time], was not always so sweet for me, and to prove it to you I am going to recount certain little struggles which will certainly make you smile. For a long time at evening meditation, I was placed in front of a Sister who had a strange habit and I think many lights because she rarely used a book during meditation. This is what I noticed: as soon as this Sister arrived, she began making a strange little noise which resembled the noise one would make when rubbing two shells, one against the other. 

I was the only one to notice it because I had extremely sensitive hearing (too much so at times). 

Mother, it would be impossible for me to tell you how much this little noise wearied me. I had a great desire to turn my head and stare at the culprit who was very certainly unaware of her "click." This would be the only way of enlightening her. However, in the bottom of my heart I felt it was much better to suffer this out of love for God and not to cause the Sister any pain. I remained calm, therefore, and tried to unite myself to God and to forget the little noise. 

Everything was useless. 

I felt the perspiration inundate me, and I was obliged simply to make a prayer of doing it without annoyance and with peace and joy, at least in the interior of my soul

I tried to love the little noise which was so displeasing; instead of trying not to hear it (impossible), I paid close attention so as to hear it well, as though it were a delightful concert, and my prayer (which was not the Prayer of Quiet) was spent in offering this concert to Jesus.



I have noticed that the most saintly sisters are the most loved. We seek their company; we render them services without their asking...

On the other hand, imperfect souls are not sought out. No doubt we remain within the limits of religious politeness in their regard, but we generally avoid them, fearing lest we say something which isn't too amiable

When I speak of imperfect souls, I don't want to speak of spiritual imperfections, since the most holy souls will be perfect only in heaven; but I want to speak of a lack of judgment, good manners, touchiness in certain characters; all things which don't make life very agreeable.  I know very well that these moral infirmities are chronic, that there is no hope of a cure, but I also know that my Mother would not cease to take care of me, to try to console me, if I remained sick all my life

This is the conclusion I draw from this: I must seek out in recreation on free days, the company of the Sisters who are the least agreeable to me in order to carry out with regard to these wounded souls the office of the good Samaritan:  A word, an amiable smile, often suffice to make a sad soul bloom but it is not principally to attain this end that I wish to practice charity, for I know I would soon become discouraged: a word I shall say with the best intention will perhaps be interpreted wrongly. Also, not to waste my time, I want to be friendly with everybody, and especially with the least amiable Sisters to give joy to Jesus and respond to the counsel He gives in the Gospel in almost these words: 

"When you give a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends, or your brethren or your relatives, or your rich neighbors, lest perhaps they also invite you in return, and a recompense be made to you. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and blessed shall you be, because they have nothing to repay you with. (Lk 14: 12-14) and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:4)

What banquet could a Carmelite offer her Sisters except a spiritual banquet of loving and joyful charity? As far as I am concerned, I know no other.



"There is in the community a Sister, who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything: in her ways , her words, her character, everything seems very disagreeable to me. And still, she is a holy religious who must be very pleasing to God. Not wishing to give in to the natural antipathy I was experiencing, I told myself that charity must not consist in feelings but in works; then I set myself to doing for this Sister what I would do for the person I loved the most. 

Each time I met her , I prayed to God for her, offering Him all her virtues and merits...I was not content simply praying very much for this Sister who gave me so many struggles, but I took tender care to render her all the services possible, and when I was tempted to answer her back in a disagreeable manner, I was content with giving her my most friendly smiles, and with changing the subject of conversation. 

I used to run away like a deserter whenever my struggles became too violent. As she was absolutely unaware of my feelings for her, never did she suspect the motives for my conduct and she remained convinced that her character was very pleasing to me.  

One day at recreation, she asked almost these words: "Would you tell me, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, what attracts you so much towards me, every time you look at me, I see you smile?" 

Ah! what attracted me was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus who makes sweet what is most bitter. I answered that I was smiling because I was happy to see her (it is understood that I did not add that this was from a spiritual standpoint)...

When I wish to increase this love in me, and when especially the devil tries to place before the eyes of my soul the faults of such and such a Sister who is less attractive to me, I hasten to search out her virtues, her good intentions."

* * * * *

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus was not exempt from feeling "unloving" towards people whose personalities were difficult for her to "like", but this did not stop her from practicing true Christian charity to those whom she did not feel very fond of. She even sought out these difficult people in order to see Jesus amidst their "bitter" countenances!


Another example on temperaments not really changing completely even after conversion, was the story I read very recently in the Acts of the Apostles --
the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 15:36-40

3Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.

 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. 

Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.  41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

According to my Bible aid, the sudden breakup between Paul and his friend Barnabas should not surprise us. Why? Because:


But time and thanksgiving tend to lessen conflicts.

Some years later, Paul who is imprisoned, will be helped by Mark (Philemon 24) and much later, imprisoned again, Paul will ask Mark to come and help him.  (2 Tim 4:11)

* * * * *

Applying it to my own marriage...

I am, as I have mentioned above, a weird mix of sanguine and melancholic.
Dong for his part, I think, is a mix of phlegmatic and melancholic.
None of us is choleric though. We are not quick-tempered nor do we get easily annoyed
(except when I am hormonal or he is hungry, then all hell breaks loose. Hehe ;)).

So, even if the Lord had already transformed me, (I can only speak for myself. God is still at work in my husband's heart.) I am still that weird mix of sanguine and melancholic. Yes, I am bubbly and spritely and mostly cheerful, but I still am prone to long bouts of introspection, which in the past before my conviction, almost always led to depression.

But since the Lord has already given me a new nature, I use my introspective nature NOT to:

- think about how others viewed me
- think about whether or not I looked fat in my outfit
- think about if what I said impressed my friend
- think about whether or not I was "friendly" enough in the social gathering
- think about my many imperfections and flaws

... which almost always led before to depression and emotional withdrawal from my husband. He was always the "fall guy" of my bad moods, from too much "thinking". :(

I am the second and the fourth.

I now use my introspective nature to :

- think about whether what I uttered was pleasing to God
- think about what hidden sins and idols I was cherishing in my heart that made me react strongly
- think about whether my choice of clothes was modest enough to reflect my newfound faith
- think about whether or not I was able to show Christ to this particular person who looked so sad
- think about how much grace and mercy the Lord has given to a great sinner such as myself

... which translates to a peaceful and joyful relationship with my husband, who looks to me to set  our home's "thermostat". When I am joyous and smiling, he feels really great (and fulfilled) too!

The Lord had transformed me, YES! 
But, I am still sanguine-melancholy. 
And I guess, I always will be.

The difference lies in that whereas before, I used my melancholic temperament as 'license" to go into pity parties and depression... Now, I use my melancholic nature to go into the deepest recesses of my heart and mind, in order to uproot any sin, and hold captive every thought for Christ! Any lies that I find while in deep introspection, I throw out. I read my Bible to find out the Truth!

Since my conversion too, my sanguine personality has been very apparent, and I find myself very chirpy the moment I wake up, till just before I go to bed, on most days!!! Whereas before, because of my sanguine temperament, I allowed my feelings to dictate to me how I would react towards upsetting events... Since my conversion, I have been bossing around my emotions, not anymore giving in to my emotional outbursts! Better PMS days, that's for sure! Who would have thought that to be possible?! Dong is amazed! It's a miracle!!! Haha! :)

2 Corinthians 10:5

5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The Lord has already done much transformation within our hearts after He recreated us, following our letting go and letting God. We are already new beings! Hooray! Praise the Lord!!!


The temperaments we were born with, will still be what the Lord will work on and work with
He who "makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, who have been called according to His Purpose" (Romans 8:28) , will use our individual strengths and weaknesses to conform us to Jesus.

We must therefore have hearts that are pliable; and spirits, that like clay, are moldable, in the Potter's Hands.

As children of God we are called too, to bear with one another's faults and failures. (Col 3:13)  Nobody is perfect, although the Father in Heaven wants us to do our best to be "perfect" (Matt 5:48) but not in the worldly sense of the word. 

(NotePerfect means to  "mirror God ". We are to mirror him in his moral excellence as well as in other ways. In fact, the basic call to a person in this world is to be a reflection of the character of God. ).

No temperament is perfect. 
Every temperament has its "good" side and "bad" side. 

It is just a matter of allowing the "good" to surface, as the "bad" subsides.

So if you are choleric (masungit), you would have to bite your tongue more often, in fits of temper, to avoid hurting others.

Proverbs 15:18
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger pacifies contention.

If you are phlegmatic (masyadong cool), you would have to be more proactive and dynamic in serving others and God, rather than being too relaxed to the point of apathy.

Revelation 3:15-16

‘" I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."

If you are sanguine (masayahin), you would have to balance having "too many fellowships" and "worldly friendships", with being still and having more quiet moments alone with the Lord.

1 John 2: 15-17

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

If you are melancholic (palaisip), you would have to be less perfectionistic (in the worldly sense of the word), less hard on yourself and more tolerant of others.

Romans 14: 10-13

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? 
Or why do you treat them with contempt? 
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 
11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’?

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.


We cannot do this alone though, sisters!

We need the Father's Help...

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

We need the Son's Help...

Philippians 4:13

13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me!

We need the Spirit's Help...

Romans 8:26

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

 * * * * * *

So, what is your temperament
dear sister in Christ? 

Is it choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine or melancholic

Our youngest boy, Reuben Theo -- sanguine as can be!

Whatever it is, the Lord created YOU; He formed YOU; He knew YOU even before YOU were born; and He will use YOU and your God-given  temperament for His Kingdom, for His Own Purposes.

All that He asks is that we always trust in Him and humble ourselves before Him.
If we do that, in spite of our human weaknesses, we will still be able to give Him Glory!
 Let us never lose sight of the Reason we are on earth in the first place --

 that is to LOVE Him, 
to SEEK Him, and
to SERVE Him.

May we all be richly blessed! :)

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