Type A people were identified in the 1950’s as a group who’s high effectiveness is admired and their stress level is dreaded. They are ambitious, rigidly organized, concerned with status, sensitive, anxious, proactive, motivated, good at follow-through, focused, and concerned with time management. For them, life is about destinations (goals), not the journey (process).
I am in this category and as I look at my group do you know what I see? Compared with the Type B who trusts that everything will work out, Type A’s seem to operate inside the belief that they must make things work out. If they take their eye off the ball, everything will unravel. Catastrophe will follow.
I see our desperation and how we’re caught in a frantic scramble we call a life. We don’t choose to do all the things; we deeply fear what will happen if we don’t. It can feel like running in front of a wall of water that will surely sweep us away if we don’t stay out in front of it. Is that how your life feels?
Have you ever been at a noisy pool where kids are splashing and yelling and adults are chatting and laughing? Have you then put your head under water and experienced the cessation of sound? Water plugging your ears with peace. That’s what I imagine life is like for the Type B personality. Cocooned in the belief that things will work out, they see people coming and going, and hear muffled sound, but it’s not overwhelming. Okay, maybe underwater quiet is a better metaphor for life in the world made new, but I imagine a Type B’s inner world is quieter than a Type A’s.
When I see the fear driving Type A’s into over-achieving efforts to simply survive, my heart breaks for us. And through that crack comes the words Jesus and angels said whenever they got close to humans. “Don’t be afraid.” God is in the business of slowing the internal pace of Type A people by showing us there’s nothing to run from. If you’re not sure, look at Sabbath. This used to be the only sacred time I felt right without pushing myself. Being brought up with a Sabbath practice, my internal chaos would die down as the sun slipped away Friday evenings. In that quiet, I was reminded I was saved. And being saved (safe), I had nothing to run from or prove. Things would indeed, work out.
God is in the business of slowing the internal pace of Type A people by showing us there’s nothing to run from.
Today I know I’m not in a panic-inducing position, trying to earn my place on this planet or vet myself for heaven. God has given me both those things. So, while fear tries to whip me into super-speed on the regular, I take time to sit quietly and breathe. It feels like putting my head under water. The noise of people’s expectations fade away and I am alone with my Maker, the Lover of my soul.
I still get in a frenzy sometimes, but now it feels off. I come back to the truth that my existence is not a desperate one. I still am all the things Type A’s are and I come back to Jesus to sit in the center of the quiet and peace He has for me.
P.S. This is the beginning of a little series about being Type A and being a Christian. If you’re not Type A yourself, hopefully this will help you understand the Type A people in your life!