Why the Enneagram?

Have you ever done something or said something that almost immediately, or later, you wonder why on earth you did what you did or said what you said? Like the behavior was an automatic response? Like your brain was on autopilot without an abort button? 

Romans 7:15 tells us, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” 

Becoming aware of our behavior patterns, the ones that make us cringe if we are being honest, as well as why we behave in those patterns, is the beginning of transformation and gives us a glimpse of the fully redeemed state we will ultimately have in heaven. The way God created us to truly be to bear his image to the world.

While the enneagram gets designated as a “personality” system that’s not exactly what it is. Instead, it is nine ways of seeing, interacting, and responding to the world and those in our lives. Think of it as different photo filters. Some filters make the photo appear with a greenish tint or a pinkish tint. We all see the world through a different filter.

Nor does the enneagram put us in a box. Instead, it helps us realize, and escape from, if we put in the work, the box our “personality” trapped us in earlier than we are able to remember. 

You are more than just a number, though. It is my hope that in learning about your enneagram number, your spiritual giftings and talents, and growing spiritually in those, that you will realize you are more than just a number. That you were created for a purpose. 

I do not think or believe we can become who we were truly created to be without knowing in the deepest part of our soul and spirit that we are beloved by God our creator. We can not move past the mask of personality we learned to wear even as a very young child without the blood of Jesus. And we can’t grow in our giftings and into our truest self, bearing the image of God to those around us, without the Holy Spirit. 

The enneagram is not the end all be all of personality typing systems or personal growth. It does, however, offer us a great deal of wisdom if we allow it and shows us a path to our healthier selves. 

The wisdom of the Enneagram is an amazing tool the Holy Spirit can use to help us learn more about the motivations and fears that cause those behavior patterns. The Enneagram is not the “fun” personality typing system. It forces us to confront our junk and take a hard look at our shadow side. That part of us we would rather just ignore. The part that we excuse by saying it’s “just how I’m wired.” But in confronting it, naming it, and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us beyond it, we can have the abundant life Christ offers us. 

The Spiritual Practice of Flowers

There is something holy about being in the garden just after sunrise tending to and cutting flowers before most of the world awakes as the sun is just barely rising. Hands in the dirt or clippers in hand to bring their beauty indoors.

A reminder of God’s presence still here even in the midst of a world that doesn’t always acknowledge His existence. A reminder of God’s grace. A reminder of His mercy.

I planted Zenias this past summer and have become obsessed with growing my own flowers now. There is something calming about digging in the dirt, planting the flowers, and then being able to walk out and cut flowers out of my yard to bring inside to enjoy throughout the week. In a couple of months I’m going to try my hand at starting seeds.

Flowers sing. Did you know that? You may not be able to hear them, but I think God does. He created them after all. All living things have a frequency so whether we hear them or not, I believe flowers sing. They bloom with no fear or worry. Content with the present moment.

Flowers are evidence of heaven I think. Flowers are God’s way of giving us a glimpse into the heavenly realm. Sunflowers opening up toward the sky. A bright pink daisy opening up. You can’t not smile or take a deep breath. Let’s not forget their scent. Heaven will smell like gardenias to me of that I’m sure.

There is a spiritual practice in growing flowers. A spiritual practice, a liminal space, at the edge of heaven.

Kingdom of Noise – Part 2

Noise and Fear. These seem to be two major themes God is teaching me about and revealing truths about to me over the past couple of years.

When there is no time for being there is no time for listening. I will never understand the silent dying of the green pie-apple tree if I do not slow down and listen to what the Spirit is telling me, telling me of the death of trees, the death of planets, of people, and what all these deaths mean in the light of love of the Creator who brought them all into being; who brought me into being; and you.” – Madeleine L’Engle

We cannot abide in Christ if we are always in a hurry and can never find stillness. We cannot abide in Christ if our world is so noise that we cannot sit in silence and hear the Holy Spirit. We cannot abide in Christ if we are never able to find solitude. We cannot abide in Christ if we are never able to rest. It is through abiding in Christ we are able to unearth who we truly are and who God created us to be.

Without ceasing the busy-ness of life and quieting our minds, we cannot hear the Holy Spirit. There is plenty of time for movement, but in order for us to give of ourselves in serving others we must make room in quiet and stillness for God to pour into us. It is only from the overflow that we can serve others without finding ourselves battling burn out and in an unhealthy place spiritually and possibly physically.

I visited a friend’s church for their Christmas Eve service. The pastor’s message was such a beautiful reminder of why we need to discern what noise we are allowing in our lives. He talked about the shepherds in the Christmas story and how the job of a shepherd at night was to keep watch. Their night watch was filled with silence. “Watching the sheep forces out the kingdom of noise and forces you to meditate on this (God’s) kingdom.” (Geoff Evans)
What if the shepherds that God chose for the angels to announce the birth of Christ to were too busy with the noise of the world? Think of what they would have missed. Think of all we might be missing because of all the noise that bombards us in our lives.

Silence is the antithesis of our culture today. The world we live in hates silence which should be a very big indicator of how much we should practice it.

In The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith he quotes Malcom Muggeridge: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence…We need silence to be able to touch should. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to use and through us.”

Exodus 14:14 is one of my favorite verses. Moses tells the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be silent.” (ESV)

The Messianic Jewish Tree of Life version puts it this way, “Adonai will fight for you, while you hold your peace.”

It reminds me that too often we grumble and worry instead of listening for God in the moment. In the very next verse God says to Moses “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward….” Then he tells Moses to lift up his staff and the sea will part.

Are we too busy wading through the noise and focusing on the past that we miss what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us and show us in the present moment? Is the noise of what might happen in the future keeping us from seeing the holy in the here and now?

We need to practice silence, stillness, solitude, and Sabbath.

In times of silence, we learn to still our thoughts so we can listen for God. This is not just outer silence. It is also inner silence. Calming our mind so it is fully present to God. Training the mind to release all the thoughts that bombard us takes practice, but it is possible. Learning to sit in silence may be uncomfortable at first. Our spirit will not know what to do with it so starting slow can be helpful.

Solitude helps us to simply be. When we are alone with God we do not have to hide any of our true self. We aren’t tempted to put on the mask of our ego or personality to be what we think others want us to be.

How often do we stop just to be still besides when we go to bed at night? How often do we find ourselves rushing and in a hurry? Stillness is not just stilling our bodies from movement, but also our hearts from feeling the need to hurry. C.S. Lewis said “For the present is the point at which time touches eternity.” If we are hurrying and constantly on the go, we are never able to view life from an eternal perspective.

Psalm 46:10 tells us “Be still and know that I am God.” When we read that scripture, most of us think we should be still and settle down, but being still can also mean to stop striving. Our pride says we have to do it on our own, but this only causes resistance. When we surrender our pride of needing to do it on our own, we are able to be still and allow God to fill us.

We as a culture desperately need to learn to practice Sabbath. Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat. Shabbat means “to stop,” but it can mean delight. As we cultivate the practice of Sabbath we are surrendering our autonomy reminding us that all we have and are is from God. It teaches us to rest in Christ all the other days of the week.

When we practice silence, solitude, stillness, and Sabbath, we are able to use the gifts and talents God has given us to serve others. We are able to be aware of our thoughts and the noise that bombards us and surrender to God and the present moment taking all thoughts captive for Christ. This is where we find the peace that passes all understanding.

Kingdom of Noise

We live in a kingdom of noise as C. S. Lewis put it in The Screwtape Letters. Maybe not audible noise, but noise none the less. Our minds are bombarded with information at every turn.

You would think our psyches would shut it off at some point for its own good, but instead we become addicts and then numb to it all. Constantly feeling the pull to check social media for the latest news or happenings. Listening to talking heads on the television. It’s all noise. And all too often it’s biased noise, propaganda, in the guise of information. Information that’s intention is to cause fear.

If we are not careful to discern and filter the noise we take in, we can too easily become trapped in fear. In C.S. Lewis’s Letters to the Soul Master in 1942 he wrote:

Young man to the devil: “How did you manage to send so many people to hell?”

The devil: “Through fear.”

The young man: – Good for you! And what were they afraid of? Wars? Hunger?

The devil: – No … Illness.The young man: “Did they get sick? Did they die? Was there no cure?”

The devil: “They didn’t get sick. They just died. And there was a cure …”

The young man: – “I do not understand…”

The devil: “They believed that the only thing they had to keep at all costs was Life!”

They stopped hugging, stopped greeting each other.

They left all human contacts … They left everything that was human!

They ran out of money.

They lost their jobs.

They chose to fear for their lives, even if they had nothing to eat.

They believed what they heard, read newspapers, and blindly believed they were reading the truth.

They gave up their freedom.

They never left their home again.

They didn’t go anywhere.

They never visited friends and family again.

The whole world has become a huge prison with *convicted volunteers*.

They voluntarily accepted everything!

All this to experience another miserable day …

They did not live, they died every day!

It was too easy to take away their miserable souls … “

~ CS Lewis, “Letters to the Soulmaster” (1942)

How much of the noise your mind is taking in is being pushed with an agenda of fear. I’ve written previously about fear. Fear is not from God. If perfect love casts out fear and if God is love then fear is not of or from God.
People may couch it as concern or for your good or for the good of others, but fear is never from God.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I know most people truly do believe they are doing the right thing trying to warn you. Yet there is a difference in an agenda intentionally causing fear and a message being shared without bias so you can make the best decision for yourself.

So how do we discern for ourselves if we are reacting to something out of fear?

Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control.” Fear is mentioned 365 times in the bible. It’s so important for us to meditate on scripture and speak truth from scripture over ourselves daily.

Secondly, don’t overthink things. Put another way, get out of your head. My friends, you control your thoughts, your thoughts do not control you. Neuroscience has proven this. Unfortunately, people still believe they cannot change their thoughts and mindset. Take every thought captive. Yes, sometimes it is hard because our egos try to keep us bound to our fears, but becoming a watcher of your thoughts and being aware of the path your thoughts are taking you down is how we take every thought captive. It’s a practice, a discipline, but one that will lead to being able to put on the mind of Christ.

Learning more about how God created you and what underlying fears and motivations are also important. Once we understand the why behind our motivations, our awareness of when we are allowing ourselves to be led by fear becomes stronger. The enneagram helps us identify our core motivations and underlying fears. Do you know your enneagram type? To learn more about your enneagram type sign up for my newsletter here.

Everything Comes Down to Fear or Love

Every thing, every action or reaction, every word spoken or message shared with others, is done out of either fear or out of love. 

Are we trying to manipulate or control someone or some outcome when our words and actions are motivated by fear? Sure, when our children are little we need to instill the “fear” of some things for their physical safety like crossing the street, but when fear is the root of every word we say or every thing do, we are limiting ourselves and we keep ourselves from truly abiding in Christ.

When we live in fear, we give our peace, our joy, and our power away to others. Fear also has been shown to lower our immune system and cause stress. Some type of stress is always the cause of illness or disease. So not only are we giving away our emotional power to others or even to our own negative thought patterns, we are literally giving away our physical well-being.

In Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., he talks about fear, “Fear is so pandemic in our society it constitutes the predominant ruling emotion of our world, as we know it.” When most people think of fear it isn’t usually a fear for their physical safety. It’s anxiety and worry. Watch the news for 2 minutes or scroll through social media for 30 seconds and fear and anxiety can over take our thoughts and steal our peace of mind.

Any message from any person or entity whether media, a pastor, or even our own thoughts, if it is based in fear, it is not from God or of God. Every single message from outside of ourselves and every thought our mind has should be filtered to see if at its very core is it based in fear. Fear is used to manipulate & control. If something is done or a message perpetuated or if we speak or act or react out of fear, it is not from God. God is love and perfect love drives out fear. We may think that sharing a message that way is the only way to wake people up and help them see, but even a message shared out of wanting to help someone but based in fear is still manipulative. I can be guilty of this myself. I think it is such a default mode in our culture that we may not even know we are doing it.

When we dwell in the past and ruminate on things we think caused us hurt or shame ourselves for things we think we should have done differently, we allow fear to steal our joy. When we worry about the future, we allow fear to steal our peace.

When we use discernment to examine our thoughts or words from others and continually surrender our fear and anxieties over to God, we are “taking every thought captive” and “praying without ceasing.” This is abiding in Christ and when we abide in Christ we are able to be fully present in the moment or as Eckhart Tolle says “in the now.” It is then that we are able to live without fear. That is when we can experience the peace that passes all understanding.

Every person has a core fear. Becoming aware of that core fear and learning and understanding why we have that fear is the first step in learning to surrender it.