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Showing posts from January, 2020

Brain Block

When my children think I'm threatening their autonomy, they get angry. They run out of the room or shout about the unfairness of my instructions. They aren't capable of listening to me or understanding my reasoning. They're closed off and often remain so until after their anger dies down or the impending consequences compels them to obey in deed, if not in spirit.

I think the reason they can't listen or understand me when they get angry is because they go into survival mode, self-preservation mode, or as I'd like to call it, brain block. They are unable to accept any new information because they are too busy protecting themselves from a perceived threat to their happiness, i.e. my command for them to stop playing and pick up their socks.

It is the same with me. When I share my ideas with someone, and they cross-examine me, I feel my mind growing blurry, preventing me from speaking or thinking straight. I feel afraid that the cross-examiner will misunderstand me or ri…

Deciphering My Emotions

Sometimes, I wish I could consult a chart to decipher my emotions. A chart like this:

Anger: Someone is violating my boundaries. Guilt: I am violating my own inner code of conduct. Fear: I am in danger. Hurt: Someone else is violating my inner code of conduct. Anxiety: Something is threatening my future. Etc.
Then the chart would tell me what to do about my situation.
Someone is violating my boundaries: verbally re-establish boundaries. I am violating my own inner code of conduct: acknowledge mistake and forgive myself. I am in danger: get out of there! Someone else is violating my inner code of conduct: tell them how they hurt me. Something is threatening positive outcomes in the future: get rid of the threat.
Perhaps charts like this do exist, and perhaps people find them helpful, but I see a problem. I could be angry because someone has walked all over me, and I could be angry because someone has let me walk all over them. I could be afraid of a big decision I have to make, and I c…

Enneagram 8's Laying Down the Weapons

You don't have to do this.
You don't have to fight.
You don't have to argue.
You don't have to get it all out.
You don't have to make them understand.

You don't have to burst each time the strain builds up.
You don't have to act on these impulses or this anger.
You don't have to defend yourself or what you've done.
You don't have to cope like this.
There is another way,
But to enter it
You must lay down your weapons,
And trust Him to defend you.

You don't have to assert yourself.
You don't have to impress them with your feats.
You don't have to feel threatened by another's strengths.
You don't have to convince anyone of your intentions.
You don't have to control them to protect them.
You don't have to lie to yourself
That this is the way you have to live;
Because you don't.
There is another way,
But to walk that way
You must stop wielding your weapons
And trust Him to supply your strength.

Trust Him to safeguard y…

Making New Grooves in Our Brain

Our sins have three consequences for us. One: We’ve cost God His son’s life. Two: We wear unhealthy grooves into our physical brains. And Three: We will have to suffer the natural consequences of what we've done.

If I judge someone as worthless and treat them as such, I’ve not only spit in the face of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but also fooled my brain into believing that I'm able to weigh another’s value. Perhaps I feel uneasy about this judgement the first time, but with repetition, this judgement will have a permanent effect on me. I’ll no longer be able to think otherwise because the right highways and byways of my brain have been cut off.

Lastly, I’ll probably miss-out on the depth that that supposedly-worthless person had to offer me because my own judgements blind me to seeing them accurately. I might even create an enemy of my neighbor, or, if that person is my co-worker, a rift in the company. These would be the natural consequences of my sin.

None of these consequ…

My Default Mode of Operation

My default mode of dealing with difficult situations is to fly under the radar. Or if I can't do that, I shut down until I can get out of there, analyze the situation, research, ask advice, and then formulate a new plan for moving forward.

In fact, if I take any personality test, they'll tell me, this is my strength. This is what I'm good at: separating myself from the problem, observing, analyzing, seeing many possible solutions, and choosing the best one. This mode of operation is like my protective shell. It protects me from things getting to me. It makes existence possible. And yet, it also makes me numb to my own existence.

Because I have these emergency measures to get out of difficult situations, I protect myself from falling into panic and fear and back-biting and neediness. All that is hidden beneath this protective shell. Other people don't see it, and I rarely see it myself. I might be able to go a number of months without remembering I'm just faking it.

It…

Enneagram 7: Now is the Next Best Thing

To the next!
To the next!
If I don't like this song,
I'll skip to the next.
When the kids move out,
We'll use the bedroom for guests.
When all three are in school
I'll be less stressed,
Earn extra cash,
Catch up on projects,
Be less perplexed.

But that's far in the future.
Summer's Family Camp is more sure.
And until then I can endure
For there's a dine-around in a week to savor
And tomorrow's church service. That's sooner.

I see it all like a mirage in the distance.
It's why I must push through these dishes,
This bedtime routine and their Christmas,
Because the present brings me no joy
Like my hopes for the future do.

This here is repetitive.
This here is irritating.
This here is cluttered.
This here is boring.
I don't know what to do now.
So I plan for later.

Oh God, help me!
I confess
My hope is in the next.
I've believed that hurrying my steps
Would protect me from the now and its effects.

I want to believe that You have joy for me n…

Enneagram 9's Running up the Credit Card

I keep charging them to my credit card, these instances of kindness and patience and good listening. I know I didn't pay cash for them because I haven't had any cash in years.

And I certainly didn't use His account like He told me to. He said, "Let anyone who is bankrupt come to me. And whoever uses my account, rivers of gold will burst from their wallets." Yeah. I haven't been taking advantage of that deal. It's just not programmed into me. At the department store where the lit-up ads remind me what I need—forgiveness for that rude comment and understanding for that annoying person and gentleness when the kids are bratty—I want it all. I mean these are good things, right? I'm supposed to own these things. If I have these things, everything will be alright. Right? So I pile them into my basket and run up the credit card.

At the end of the week or sometimes even the day, the creditors come calling. "We see you've been spending borrowed money.…

Digging Up the Roots

The Enneagram is for people who have problems. If you don't have problems, this isn't for you. It's also for people who are open to change. If you have problems and are content with your way of coping, then stop reading. This isn't for you.

The Enneagram can be a tool to connect the dots between our troubles and their causes, the weeds and the taproot so to speak. It can be the final link that makes everything clear.

I know plenty of Christians who trust the Lord in their day-to-day lives without the Enneagram. God bless them! The Lord makes that connection for them. The Enneagram isn't a necessary ingredient to anyone's walk with the Lord, but it can help if you have problems and are having a hard time making your faith work. Here's how the Enneagram might help:

Consider your problems like weeds. All your stresses, areas of anxiety, repeated patterns of unhealthy behavior, outbursts of angst, brooding resentments, and even physical ailments connected to s…

Why Little Annoyances Are Very Important

What if the trials that the Bible says brings about maturity are something that happen everyday? What if these trials aren't terrorists burning down my home or my child contracting an incurable disease or being shunned by an unbelieving relative? Although, don't get me wrong, these are definitely trials too. What if these trials might also be the simple unsettling things that happen to me everyday?

My five-year-old shouts at me that she's not going to obey, or when she does obey, she subjects me to her wailing.

My one-year-old won't nap.

I have a headache.

I'm dreading planning the upcoming children's birthday parties.

My husband doesn't speak to the children the way I think is best.

I must figure out how to fill in the paperwork for a business license.

The Christmas tree has crisped, which will make un-decorating difficult.

My son doesn't read as well as his friends, and this worries me.

I'm not sure the leftover spaghetti and meatballs will be eno…

Library Finds: 2019's Books I Enjoyed

If you asked me what books I most enjoyed this past year, this is what I'd tell you:

I'm No Angel by Kylie Bisutti: Gripping story about Kylie Bisutti's journey to become a Victoria's Secret Angel. I found Bisutti's commentary on the modeling industry so interesting since this is something I know nothing about. I was also very impressed with how well her Christian family and husband supported and loved her through her time in that career. Overall, a neat perspective on how Christ works in the modeling world.

Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle: I read this book, a sequel to Tattoos on the Heart, like I would a devotional. It has so many potent ideas that I found I needed time to think things through before moving on. Boyle breaks up his thought-provoking ideas with humorous and heart-wrenching stories about his relationships with L.A. gang members. This book really convicted me regarding how I try to "help" people and how I don't see others as I woul…