Note: this references shortened terms for cognitive functions: Si (Introverted Sensing, a subjective mythology based on personal experience), Fe (Extroverted Feeling, or objective emotions centered around the welfare of others), Ti (Introverted Thinking, or subjective reasoning and the desire to understand the WHY), and Ne (Extroverted Intuition, or seeing the potential possibilities around an object or individual).
ISXJ vampires are quite popular in fiction, because they have that “old world” aura about them. Edward Cullen (ISTJ) was such an old-fashioned gentleman than he would rather have “courted” Bella than date her, and insisted upon marriage before intimacy, both out of fear of the future (inferior Ne) and general turn of the century politeness. Angel (ISFJ) spent decades (centuries?) reliving all his bad deeds, unable to progress past them and afraid to change or show any compassion until Buffy came along and shook up his world. Stefan Salvatore (ISFJ) also has an ancient sense about him, and spends much of his time atoning for the past while protecting his future.
Still, my favorite of the SJ vampires is Elijah Mikaelson (ISFJ), from The Originals. What I like about him is that he does not regret what he is, nor try to alter it; he has no interest in returning to a human state or in reliving his past mistakes, although all of them do influence and reinforce his decisions in the present (he is fearful to love again, due to prior loss and disappointment – Si). He accepts what he is, though despising it, and continually works toward the redemption of his family and siblings. His main mission is Klaus, but he also wants Rebekah to improve as an immortal. Elijah’s biggest mistake is his naivety, his desire to see his brother transformed into what he “could be, in a more idealized state” (Ne) than in his acceptance of reality. He is continually at war between this idealism and his personal mythology, which surrounds the idea of family. Family first, always and forever. That is his motto, as it was his promise long years ago.
Elijah is special to me, for several reasons. One is that he breaks the ISFJ stereotype completely in the sense that he is a force to be reckoned with, with a strategic mind and a strong sense of intuition… but it is all inferior Ne intuition, stemming from a suspicious and distrusting nature rather than a strong sense of certainty. He is an analytical problem solver who never takes anything at face value, but instead must probe it for motivations and deeper truths (Ti). He has an effortless charm and natural compassion for people (Fe), yet can be utterly ruthless when crossed. Elijah is polite, even when threatening people’s lives. He likes some measure of control while also offering his siblings freedom. He is a paradox, in the same way that I am; a bunch of effortless contradictions living quite peacefully together in one soul.
I comprehend and understand him because we share the same internal processing system, and prioritize many of the same things – family loyalty foremost among them. Though I think Elijah naïve and idealistic in his dealings with Klaus, I cannot say that under the circumstances of his situation, I would not do the same… fight, and keep fighting, to save someone that I care about from themselves. I like Elijah because he does not mind what he is; it repulses him, but he embraces it, because it is who he is now. He cannot alter it, and would not given the chance, because he is holding onto that element of his nature that enables him to protect others, to be respected and feared. It is his armor, an asset in holding people at a distance and not allowing them in, for fear that he might first love them, and then lose them.
More than once, I have had people call me “enigmatic,” “hard to read,” “cryptic,” and “full of contradictions.” In Elijah, I recognize an element of myself – the desire to be respected more than loved, because love requires opening up in return. I find that hard to do. I find it hard to trust. Like Elijah, much of the time I operate purely in my thinking process. It makes me able to be rational, to keep people at a distance, to avoid too much emotional involvement. If I do not love, I do not have to risk being hurt. If I do not let them in, it will not injure me when they leave. I am indeed full of contradictions; capable of immense compassion but also brutally cold assessments. In Elijah, I see reflected not only my virtues but also my flaws and fears. He serves as a reminder that we all cling to facades and put up walls to protect ourselves, but before we can alter that, we must first and foremost come to an acceptance of ourselves. Not an acceptance born of “well, that is just how it is,” but an acknowledgement of such, in order that we might come to terms with who we are, and then move toward change.
I have many times questioned why I am who I am, why I possess the fears and instincts that I do, and what purpose God can possibly have in putting such a square peg on a board full of round holes. Even though I am one of a million ISFJs, I am unlike any of the other ISFJs I have ever met. We are fundamentally different in all but our method of processing information. Our past reinforces our futuristic conclusions, and we are susceptible to peacemaking. That is all. We are not peas in a pod, because our personal mythologies … our preferred method of observing reality through Introverted Sensing … shape us on the whole. These obvious and brutal distinctions have perplexed me in the past, caused me to self-analyze, and self-loathe, because I see myself clearly and do not like elements of my nature … but Elijah reminds me that I can hate my behavior, without hating myself. I can accept my natural instincts, come to terms with them, and change them … but I must still learn to accept and love myself, in a more idealized state.
This, I think, is how Christ sees us … He sees our duality, our state of being as it is, but also what we are meant to be or can become. He is forgiving of the one and nurturing toward the other. Our human state of existence is a journey through life as we leave one behind, and try to shift toward other, in a lifetime’s gentle process of purification with His assistance. It is as if the moment we embrace the savior, we step into a metaphorical Purgatory … where each step, each year, each sacrifice, each submission and surrender to a will greater than ourselves, is leading us ultimately toward that higher state of sanctification that will only come when we enter into His literal presence. Purgatory … a place of purification and atonement … does not await us; it exists around us in the present.
I am stuck, for the moment, in this human body, full of human weaknesses and flaws… I am a metaphorical vampire, an immortal creature temporarily separated from God… but I can become a better human, and a more whole individual, by accepting myself as a work-in-progress and striving toward a greater ideal… like Elijah.