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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 are most often tripped up by their thoughts. The 5's over-analyze. The 7's are consumed with fun and visionary plans. And the 6's are anxious beyond reason. Lastly, the 8's, 9's, and 1's are disconnected with their bodies or gut instincts. The 8's often over-express with body language. The 1's over-control their bodies and so become rather uptight or rigid. And the 9's have entirely forgotten that they have bodies.

What I find fascinating is that Jesus commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength. He doesn't say, "Pick the one you're good at and don't worry about the others." This means that no one is off the hook. No one can cop out by saying, "But I just don't feel like it," or "It's too much to think about," or "I'm just not the type to get on my knees." God wants thoroughly incorporated humans worshiping and loving him with their whole selves.

What I also find fascinating is that this awkward disorder of the heart, mind, or instinct drives each Enneagram number to a particular coping mechanism. It is this coping mechanism that is often mistaken for a person's strength. It can be a strength, but not without some inner transformation.

Let me elaborate using the 5 because I am one. The 5's get overwhelmed by life, so we cope by withdrawing, gathering data, and analyzing. This is often mistaken for a strength. 5's analysis is not a strong-point when disconnected from the real world and a relationship with the Lord. It's actually a buffer between ourselves and the truth about ourselves. The truth being: we can't handle life, we don't know enough, and we don't love as God commands. When the 5's understand that we don't have to manage our lives because God has, that we don't have to know everything because God does, and that we are enough because Christ is, then the 5's analysis can turn into wisdom. It changes the 5's stance from this stingy, fearful withholding of ourselves to an open-handed giving.

The trick is seeing these coping mechanisms as stories we hide behind and not something we have to do. It's just too easy to justify my withdrawal by telling myself. "If I don't get out of here and analyze, I will run out of the energy to be good and fall apart!"

The coping mechanism in the other numbers might sound something like this: I was just trying to do things right (1). I was just trying to help (2). I was just trying to excel (3). I was just being real (4). I was just trying to figure out life (5). I was just planning ahead (6). I was just having fun (7). I was just trying to get the job done (8). I was just trying to keep the peace (9).

The ultimate story we tell ourselves is, "I was just doing the best I could," which is true. We are all doing the best we can. But it is not enough.

Our default modes of operation are unable to love God and others with all our hearts, minds, and strength. Our default modes of operation are sinful. It's not just that we sin. We ARE sinners. The way we do things is not God's way. We must be willing to admit this to ourselves and God in order to allow God's transformative power to work in us.

This means admitting that behind these stories we tell ourselves, we are actually relying on our own strength, feelings, and understanding instead of God's. We have in fact put ourselves at the center instead of God.

This is not simply a matter of learning how to think, feel, and move correctly. The mind, even if it's logically sound, cannot find God's will on its own. The emotions, though entirely in sync with other's hearts, don't automatically feel as God would feel. And our instincts may preserve our lives, but will never teach us how to surrender ourselves into God's hands.

All Enneagram types are God-made and good, but all are ill and must come under God's power in order to love God and others properly.

The spiritually-minded Enneagram literature, which I'm just beginning to delve into, explains how we can decode our coping mechanisms, and allow the Lord to work in us.

More to come . . .

Comments

MommaMina said…
VERY well analyzed miss 5!
I think you did me proud because well after all, I am a 3!

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