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The Enneagram 6's Practice in Presence

Tomorrow's conversations Needn't be today's contemplations: "If they say this, I will say that." But I keep forgetting I'm not in charge of my well-being— That doesn't sound right— I mean, I'm not burdened With turning out good results Or forecasting tomorrow's trials To make myself impenetrable. All this rehearsing Merely fogs up my mind Hampering listening tomorrow And sensing today And seeking God always. What else could happen? Have I thought it all through? Are my guards up? Are my answers ready? No. God will supply the wisdom then For what I cannot predict now. God will unfold the scenes That create goodness within me And around me and from me. I needn't strive or rehearse, Because today's practice in presence Build's the courage for tomorrow's unknown.

Totally Technical Enneagram Blah Blah

This is a totally technical post about different categories within the Enneagram. All my quotes are from Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson's book The Wisdom of the Enneagram: the Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types. The Intelligence Centers:   where each number is least able to function normally The Instinct Center:  8, 9, 1 - These numbers are concerned with maintaining resistance and control of the environment. - They have problems with aggression or repression. 8's: "Nothing's going to get the upper hand on me. No one is going to get through my defenses and hurt me. I'm going to keep my guard up." (Hudson & Riso, 53) 9's don't want certain feelings or states to disturb their equilibriums so they create inner and outer walls. 1's: "I don't want that feeling! I don't want to have that reaction or that impulse!" (Hudson & Riso, 53) The Feeling Center : 2, 3, 4

More Funny Things They Say

"My feet are sparkling," Lee's description of his feet when they fell asleep. I asked Lee what he thought the mission of our family was and he replied. "This is going to take a lot of thinking time to answer." Lee's way of making friends at the beach is to run up to a kid, any kid, and say, "You get that bucket and start pouring water into that pool that we're making over there." "Mommy, can I get the clippers and shape our orange tree into a shape?" So glad you asked Lee. Rose asked me if Satan has a wife because Rose was telling Mrs. Satan to stop telling her lies. The children were listening to the bible and drama tapes, and at the part where Joseph is bound, and tethers are put on his feet, Rose asked, "Are the feathers on his feet to tickle him?" I was testing out personality questions on the kids, questions like, "If you walked into a room full of people would you first talk to them or stand back and w

My True Loves Gave to Me

On the first hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me A sock chucked out the car window. On the second hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me Potty sprayed about, And a sock chucked out the window. On the third hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me Beds stripped for play, Potty sprayed about, And a sock chucked out the window. On the fourth hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me Quarreling in the car, Beds stripped for play, Potty sprayed about, And a sock chucked out the window. On the fifth hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me Lunch on the floor, Quarreling in the car, Beds stripped for play, Potty sprayed about, And a sock chucked out the window. On the sixth hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me A tub of cleaner dumped, Lunch on the floor, Quarreling in the car, Beds stripped for play, Potty sprayed about, And a sock chucked out the window. On the seventh hour of Christmas my true loves gave to me The laundry room flooded,

Processing "Unkindness"

When someone irritates me or offends me or seems inconsiderate, I have three things to consider: 1) I might consider what their words or actions say about me. 2) I might consider what their words or actions say about them. 3) Or I might consider what their words or actions say about the universe. I'll probably consider all of these. However, one is more assessable than the others. Trying to understand the universe sometimes makes my head spin. And I don't have access into other's hearts and minds. I do have access into my own though. Considering what someone's unkindness reveals about myself is the most fruitful. I might discover all sorts of insecurities or unrealistic expectations or unsupported assumptions within me. I might learn that I was placing my faith in what someone thought of me instead of what God says about me. But I want to consider the dangers of the second option: what someone's words or actions say about them. Dwelling too much on this

Cautions Concerning Enneagram Literature

As I delve into Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson's The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types,  I'm beginning to see several patterns that I've also seen in other Enneagram literature. Here are some of the common ideas that seem like trip wire to me. Enneagram literature uses various terms to talk about the two sides of ourselves: the true self versus the adapted self, our essence versus our personality, the real self versus the pretend self. I like to think of this as the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit. The use of the terms is not the problem here but rather the explanations of their origins and the methods by which we move from one form to the other. 1) Don Riso talks about how he had a vision that showed how humans are all "beings of light". Riso and Hudson call it the "spark of Divinity in us" (Hudson and Riso, 36). This kind of talk seems dangerous to me. I d

The Enneagram 4's Abandonment of Fantasies

O God, must I go on In constant disappointment And nauseating dread? Do not make me stay here Suffering the monotony Of the same chores And demands upon me. I have no appetite for this. O God, allow me to escape To construct my own realities. Let me shuffle through my files That store fantasies for every whim: Fantasies of my bravery, Strength and wisdom, Where I succeed and lead, Am saved and praised. O God, how these perfected images Beckon me like a drug, Luring me to foster a hunger For a place where I am the center. Yes, that is, a hunger for hell. O God, I don't want to want them, For I know that every minute I'm there I increase my dissatisfaction with All that is good and true and beautiful. I numb my senses to what is real, And render myself more inept To handle the day in front of me. So, God, save me from these images Of my own self-made perfection, These idols to which I bow and slave. Rather, give me a hunger For what you have g

The Heart Beat of Justice

Do you hear the drumbeat The pulse, deep and resonant Beneath all, speaking justice, Justice, justice will be done; Like the soundtrack to each day, The tempo that demands we walk To His justice, justice, justice. It beats not only to thieves sentenced and tyrants dethroned, But to frogs in the cupboards and dead sons in mothers' arms. Not only to nature's laws and oceans' currents, But to the mind impaired and the screech of tires. "By this you shall know that I am the Lord," By the vomit on the floor and the water shut off, By the baby malformed and the cancer consuming. To the one who chose his own instead of God's: Justice, justice, justice. To the twisted will that cannot bend: Justice, justice, justice. "I, the Lord, will give judgement: The crash after the fall The blindness without the light The pain that follows the curse. What is sown must be reaped— All fruits of egocentricity— Lest the sky be torn in two And the mo

We Need More Decorations!

I find it interesting that the Christmas season follows a holiday of thankfulness and plenty. Thanksgiving reminds me that I have enough, and that what I have is quite good. Then suddenly the day after Thanksgiving, I realize, "No! Actually what I have is not enough at all!" Maybe I shouldn't have opened the Christmas decorations trunk the day after Thanksgiving because that's what started it. I keep a limited number of decorations. I'm not a fan of clutter and garishness. I like a monochromatic nativity scene here and a few classy Christmas cards there, a wreath on the front door and some plain white Christmas lights around our front windows. It took less than an hour to put these things up with the children, and when we'd finished, Lee and Rose danced around asking, "Is that all? Isn't there any more?" There came upon me a panic, a fear, a feeling of insufficiency. You terrible mother! You haven't done enough for your dear children! Th

Applications from "Self to Lose - Self to Find" by Marilyn Vancil (Part 2)

I used to think the Christian life was like Pilgrim's Progress. We put our trust in the Lord, our burdens fall off, we're given new clothes, and then we start down the path to the Celestial City. I suppose the Christian life is like that in addition to being transformed from a four-legged creature to a two-legged creature along the journey. When we first believe, we set off down the road to God's kingdom, but in the process, we're relearning how to walk and run and carry things and communicate. We're relearning what it means to be human. Relearning how to walk is the process of living in the Spirit instead of the flesh. We're learning to recognize when we're acting animal-like and to remember that we don't have to live like that anymore. Not a day goes by that I don't find myself crawling on my hands and knees again . . . eating grass (to continue the analogy). Marilyn Vancil's book Self to Lose - Self to Find gives practical steps on how

Enneagram 3: The Resignation of the Queen

I admit I've made no room for you in this play; I've feverishly put down my name for every role. I thought I could be the deep thinker and feeler, The confidante and cheerleader, The warrior and helper, The teacher and student, The servant and queen, But mostly the queen. Here I am as the perfect wife. Here I am as the loving mother. Here I am as the reliable sibling. Here I am as the supportive friend. But now I must confess None of it was me. I was pressing you merely To find your weaknesses So I could fix them And be useful And good And valuable. I was worming my way in merely To discover how I might lift you up And thus feel that rush, That boast of pride welling within Instead of the Holy Spirit. I admit that in trying to be useful to you I have pushed you offstage, Been invasive and proud, And not loved you As much as the idea Of me loving you. Now I see you've no need of me, And it exposes my emptiness within, That I have not be

Thoughts from "Self to Lose - Self to Find" by Marilyn Vancil (Part 1)

I am not interested in using the Enneagram as an excuse for my deficiencies. Nor am I am interested in it, if it shows me new ways to fix my old problems. Trying to fix myself isn't going to work. The machinery is faulty and no amount of oiling is going to fix it. I need new machinery. As I continue to examine the Enneagram, I am in constant scrutiny. Does the Bible say this is true? Is this true of me and those I know? And does this lead me into a deeper faith in Christ? Marilyn Vancil's book,  Self to Lose - Self to Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types,  has done a marvelous job not only explaining the Enneagram, but how the Bible views this information. I hope to share some of her wisdom here as well as add my own thoughts to it. Vancil uses the Enneagram in the context of Luke 9:23 (NASB): "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Similar language is found in the gospels. "For whoe

Comstock Chronicles: The DVD and the Squishy

Lee, my seven-year-old, has been proudly accumulating X's on his chore chart, anticipating purchasing a Mighty Machines DVD. Today was payday, and he was several dollars short of his goal. He quickly came up with a plan that involved his little sister, Rose. With his and Rose's money combined, they'd only be seven jobs short. Rose agreed to work with Lee to earn the rest. They tidied up the living room where they'd built an indoor slide with the couch cushions and IKEA tunnel. I also asked them to scour the sink and shake out several rugs. Then I had them write letters for their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. We had gone to the 99 Cents store last weekend and we half-chose half-let them choose items for their boxes. As it turned out, Rose had too many items in her box. I asked her to take out an item that we would put into my toy store instead. She took out the squishy foam unicorn in the shape of a cake. It then dawned on Rose that she currently had enough

The Enneagram 1's Magnum Opus

From infancy I've been creating this magnum opus. It is a template that shows me how much, how big, how loud, how bright, how heavy, and how often everyone and everything ought to be. My experiences add more details so that it has become not only my glorious masterpiece but my life's compass. By it I know what is good, and by it I can declare that I am. It is the safeguard against judgement—those that would declare me selfish or lazy or unfeeling or wrong. It protects me and binds me. It is my safety net and my prison walls. That is why I am so wound up. I am exhausted keeping step to the tick-tick of this metronome. That is why I can't sit peacefully in this mess. I see it all against this measuring stick, this definition of goodness, this cage. Yes, yes, I hear what you're saying. I know God alone defines what is good. But it's not simply a matter of letting go and relaxing. I can't just scrap my life's work, you see. It is me. This template, these r

Enneagram 2 Dropping the Beggar's Cup

It's impossible to fill this little cup I'm cradling in my hands, collecting from acquaintances and total strangers, You'd think I could fill it with what I get from those closest to me—fill it with affirmation, that is. But some give so much that it all splashes out, and others don't seem capable of giving me anything but sand. Judgement: that's the sand. I can hardly stand next to sand-sprinklers anymore. It's just too painful. I put my cup away around them. But I'll take a few drops from a facebook compliment or an interested look from a man driving by.  I can manage a bit on Sunday mornings if I dress nicely or get someone to take my advice or bump into a friend who enjoyed a recent blog post. Of course, I'll squeeze the juice out of someone who mimics my methods. Copying is the greatest compliment after all, right? But it's a tough life as a stay-at-home mom. There's just not very many opportunities to collect. And big social gatherings s

To the Confidant of the Enneagram 8

What would you have me do? Fall apart? Run away? I can't be like them. I am a survivor. This anger is my armor. And I must renounce sentiment For it is the chink. I will make it Because I can protect myself From being used, From injustice, From what they say about me, From needing you, From needing anyone Who might let me down. This finger will be my dividing line Between them and me, Them and us, if you wish, Because I will protect you too. I should like that Because it is lonely here. I can teach you to ball up your fists I can teach you to look fear in the eye, So that nothing can rule you As long as you rule it. Don't tell me about the discord Between this and my Savior, Between strength and surrender. I know it as well as you. But what would you have me do? I know no other way. This is my life blood, my survival. Had you been down this road, Had you seen what I've seen, You would do likewise. This is my castle. Do not tear it d

The Plea to the Enneagram 5: Staying Power

"Kicking Against the Goads" by Abigail Stevens Wait! Don't go! Stay! There's enough here for you, For your next word, Your next choice, Next look. It's not there Where you withdraw for air Artificially inflated for another breadth of time. It's not in dear friends' Kindred thoughts that extend Your energy beyond your calculated dividend. Nor in strategy, That measurement of sympathy Or well-constructed reply. No. It's here. The staying power is At the end of yourself Because there He is. Only there At the empty self A hair's breadth away from tears A blink away from shouting A heart beat from flight. Let the panic be Pavlov's bell. Let the heart feel its yearning For its Savior. You have enough Because every spiritual blessing is yours. You know enough Because He knows it all. You are enough Because He weighed you Equivalent to His son's life. Stay! Don't withdraw Into that place Where the

Enneagram Intro

I have just begun to scratch the surface of the Enneagram theory, and I must put down some things I'm learning. This pertains primarily to how the Enneagram relates to spiritual transformation through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Enneagram differentiates people based on what drives them—doing things right (1), helping others (2), personal achievement (3), individuality/self-expression (4), observation/analysis (5), security through loyalty or questioning (6), seeking fun (7), maintaining control and freedom (8), and peacemaking/avoiding conflict (9). It further separates these nine types into the three ways we're most commonly disordered. We can be disordered in our thoughts, feelings, or instincts. The feeling numbers—the 2's, 3's, and 4's—are most often tripped up by their feelings. The 2's overly feel for others. The 4's are imploding with their own feelings. And the 3's are clueless about their feelings. The 5's, 6's, and 7's

Romans 5:18-19 In Poetical Form

I know you didn't choose this life, Neither did I for that matter, And I understand the quality of your soil For I came from similar ground. We together are crippled Clumsy, scarred, and insecure, Having grown from the same tree, Poisoned up from the roots. But we no longer need to explain our ineptitudes Nor use our pasts as excuses. These shadow-lives no longer outline us, For the sun has cast us all into light. For just as our roots set us up for certain failure, So this transplant has guaranteed us victory. Just as through one, the many were stunted, So now through one, life-giving nutrients flow. Don't you know that the curse has been reversed? You've begun anew unfettered to those shadows. That is why I understand the quality of your soul; I see myself through that selfsame blood. Upon Christ our tree is now growing With his perfect blood coursing through our veins, And the innocence we believed lost or stolen Has been returned to us as thi

The Art of the Enneagram 4 In Christ

"Reflection" by Abigail Stevens I hear emotions like dissonant tones Or slashes of red across my canvas, And I stop painting to think. Let me contemplate this interruption. Don't rush me on or hide this with colors, Or play your horns louder to drown out this discord. Don't you see I'm drawn in? It is my bread and butter. It is my craft and my passion, To be encompassed by these emotions And discover the truths behind them. I do not fear the discomfort Or the emptiness or the pain. I revel in the search and the dissection To find what they say and what they mean. Do not fear. You won't lose me Because I'll return when I've found A burning coal in this throbbing heart. And I'll show you what I've discovered. I will give you words for your feelings And I will breath life into your coldness. I will teach you how to feel again And to be unafraid of dissonance and red stripes I can show you the wholeness That I'v

God of the Dark

God in the dark With me in this space Void of hope or joy Having lost hold on this place. God in the dark Somehow here Ruling here But not lifting My spirit unto light. God of the sickness Holding health But not giving, Full of power But not willing. God of the Dark. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? I have made my bed in the depths And settled on the far side of the sea, Is even here your hand upon me? Shall you, here, hold me fast? Then you must be the God of the Dark As well as the light. And God of the emptiness As well as the fullness, And the numbness as well as the feelings, Of the disease as well as the health, And the unsound as well as the sane. Not passive But lord here Just as much as bright day For darkness and light are alike to you. Then all that I lose— My plans, my joys, my sanity— I lose it not into nothingness But into your hands For your right hand holds me fast And my soul, in the dark, Which is you, Knows that full well.