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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 to recognize these moments and OWN-UP.

This is the second blog post on Marilyn Vancil's Self to Lose - Self to Find. [See Thoughts from "Self to Lose - Self to Find" by Marilyn Vancil (Part 1) for the first blog post.]

In the fourth section of Vancil's book, she explain her acronym OWN-UP as a tool to help us get back on our feet again when we resort to crawling. I found this section encouraging and practical.

OWN-UP stands for Observe, Welcome, Name, Untangle, and Possess.

The Observe step is quite simple. We observe what is going on both inside and outside of us when something doesn't seem right. For example: I'm resentful at the way things turned out, I'm dreading a family get-together, I don't want to go to church, I hate the way so-and-so treated me, my stress knot in my back has started to act up, I have a stomach ache, I feel uptight or fuzzy-headed or want to run away. I might observe any of these things about myself when something is askew.

Welcome is the next step. Vancil describes this step as both a welcoming of what we've observed and a welcoming the Lord into our situation.

When we welcome our uneasiness, we prevent ourselves from plowing ahead. Welcoming is a way of saying, "This is awfully uncomfortable, but I want this discomfort to take me to a deeper place." Welcoming also prevents us from excusing our actions or emotions. "Well, this is just the way I am." We don't need to justify, blame, or claim a right to feel or act a certain way. Neither do we "layer on guilt and self-judgement, berating ourselves for such undesirable and sinful behaviors and thoughts" (Vancil, 170). Nor do we "adopt a new self-improvement plan" (Vancil, 170).

Instead, we welcome the Lord into our uneasiness. This is different than just giving our issues to God. This is a plea to the Lord to be in the discomfort with us.

Name comes next. I must name what's behind the feelings or behaviors. What are the core needs that I'm trying to meet or am afraid are not being met? Am I trying to get love from someone, control outcomes, secure my future? Answering these questions really requires the Holy Spirit. He is the light that shows us our motives.

Vancil says that knowing our Enneagram type can help this process. However, the more I understand each Enneagram number, the more I see how I use the coping mechanisms of several numbers. When my son was assigned too much homework, I felt the need to fight the entire school district to convince them that this wasn't right (type 8). When in a big group, I want everyone to recognize how I'm unique and special (type 4). When dissatisfied, I jump from one activity to the next (type 7). When I hear about others troubles, I want to point out what they ought to do (type 1).

Learning our most frequent triggers can certainly help though.

Untangling finds the root of the matter. I really believe that the root of all our strife is a lack of faith. (This is my thought, not Marilyn Vancil's.) We are anxious, offended, afraid, controlling, spiteful, combative etc., because we are seeking to fulfill our own needs instead of trusting that God can. I am insecure in big groups because I want everyone to be pleased with me instead of finding my security in the Lord. I'm angry at my children for not obeying because I think their disobedience means I'm not a good mom. But I need to be relying on Christ's blood for my goodness not my children's behavior. I'm anxious about the future because I think it's up to me to make things turn out right when in fact the Lord has my future in His hands, and it is good.

I also think confession is part of this step. "Lord, I haven't been relying on Your son's blood for my goodness." "Lord, I haven't been believing that You are in control." "Lord, I haven't been seeking you for wisdom on what to do."

Vancil uses the word Possess as the final step. Just as the Israelites had to possess the promise land one battle at a time, we must possess the promises God has made to us one fight at a time. "Claim ownership of the innumerable promises given to you by a loving and gracious God who desires to be with you and fulfill all your longings" (Vancil, 187). This doesn't mean that we get everything we want. It means we discover what we really want, and it is God himself.

When we realize that we've been trusting our own survival strategies, we can then ask the Lord to realign our hearts with His promises because that is what we are longing for. It's like discovering the source of all our ailments was a lack of water. So we drink the Living Water and are satisfied.

Marilyn Vancil Self to Lose Self to Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types. Enumclaw: Redemption Press, 2016.


jgd said…
Abby, I admire you so much Just wanted you to now that I do. Love your family. Life is challenging and oftentimes mysterious, and sometimes so just right and sometimes so confusing. But that is the way life is.
David Cox said…
This David typing on Robin's account :-). Robin is watching a Hallmark-type movie so I am free to roam. Sometimes I drive a half mile and hang out with older men who smoke cigars on Greenleaf
Ave for an hour or so and head home when the movie has concluded with another couple having found true love (with out God) but it has a happy ending each and every time. Robin sleeps well after such gentle movies. I find it stretching to be with men who don't profess Christ as I do hoping God will point them to The Light with me in their midst. Nice men really who face many of the issues I face. We share a joke or story from our past or interact on what's going on in our lives.
Today, Sunday, in our Fellowship group, one we get to attend every other month due to Sunday School teaching, I got unspoken feedback that many think I am a "character" who is kinda of......shall we say strange. I pondered this reaction and felt that it didn't matter what others think of me. It matters deeply what God thinks of me. That is where I strive to live in His presence sensitive to what He would have me say and do. Healthy introspection is what seek to do and I enjoyed your candid thoughts shared above. Thanks. Uncle David

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