What is Your Core Fear?

God has really been teaching me about fear and the impact living in fear can have on our lives physically, mentally, & spiritually. I’ve written about fear in my recent blog posts. Learning to discern if the messages we are hearing are meant to cause fear or if they make us feel love is a necessary to know if those messages are from God. If they cause us to fear then they are not of God because God is love.  We also need to learn to shut out the noise that can cause us to fear.

When we bring awareness to fear, whatever our fear may be of, we bring that fear into light and it starts to lose its power. I was listening to the BEMA podcast (highly recommend this podcast) and Marty Solomon, one of the hosts who is a Hebrew scholar and messianic Jew, was breaking down the scripture with the story of Cain & Able and he talked about how fear came into it and he said “Fear is the antithesis to trust.”

Isn’t that it exactly? When we are living in fear we are not trusting that God has us. Instead of trusting God is with us, we live as if we are separate from God.

So at our very deepest core, what is it we fear? This is an aspect of fear we need to consider. Each of us has a core fear that motivates us, often without us even knowing, and is the underlying cause for some of our behaviors. These behaviors often cause us frustration with ourselves. If you’ve ever had an experience or interaction and afterwards been frustrated with yourself wondering why you said or did what you did, you were most likely acting out of your core fear.

I have had this happen so many times and would beat myself up afterwards wondering why I did or said what I did. I’m thankful I discovered the Enneagram. It has opened my eyes to why I do what I do. It wasn’t just another personality typing system that told me my behavior characteristics. It showed me why I do what I do. It has been such a helpful tool in identifying and understanding how living out of my core fear affects my spirit and actions. It has made me aware of WHY I do what I do and has shown me I can live out of trust in who God created me and not the fear that wants to control me.

The Enneagram teaches us to look at our core fears as well as our other underlying core motivations and brings an awareness to how we live out of those fears & motivations. To truly experience the transformation Christ can bring, we have to be brutally honest with ourselves about these core fears and motivations that we may have been blind to for our entire life.

While we may identify with the core fear and motivations of a few types, the core fear and motivations of one type will be more dominant in the majority of our situations and experiences.

Type 1s fear not being good, being defective or evil,  or not good enough. Their core desire is to be good.

Type 2s fear being unwanted, being unloved, and unneeded. Their core desire is to be loved.

Type 3s fear being worthless, of being unsuccessful, and without value apart from their achievements. Their core desire is to feel worthy and accepted.

Type 4s fear being insignificant, of being common, and not unique. Their core desire is to be unique and significant.

Type 5s fear being helpless, of being incapable, and overwhelmed. Their core desire is to be capable and competent.

Type 6s fear being being unable to survive on their own, of having no support and guidance. Their core desire is for security and support.

Type 7s fear being deprived, of being trapped in pain. Their core desire is to be happy, satisfied, and fulfilled.

Type 8s fear being controlled by others, being harmed, or being violated. Their core desire is to protect themselves and to determine their own way.

Type 9s fear being separated, unstable, and without peace. Their core desire is to maintain their inner and outer peace and stability.

As we reflect on each of these, it’s vitally important to remember that there is no wrong or right answer, and we should always carry grace upon grace into our introspection as we endeavor to uncover our underlying fear and motivations.

I’ll share more about each type in future posts, but I’ve come to believe that knowing our core fear and bringing awareness to it, can make all the difference in our lives. When coaching people I encourage them to narrow down two or three of these core fears and motivations that they identify with and as they go about their days over the next week or so view their thoughts and experiences through the lens of those core fears and desires and see which one is most dominant and resonates the most.

It isn’t always comfortable, but we need to be brutally honest with ourself in order to shed light on our core fears and motivations. It may not be the most pleasant task. It is, however, worth the effort to understand ourselves and see where our core fear is keeping us

What if We Flipped the Script?

“God’s position on humanity hasn’t changed. But humanity’s position on themselves has.”

This is a quote from an episode of the BEMA podcast. The host, Marty Solomon, a messianic Jew, walks listeners through the Torah as he shares the Bible through an ancient Jewish lens. Reading scripture through this lens is bringing so much more depth to my faith. When he said what I shared above it hit me like a ton of bricks.

People live out of the thinking that they are separated from God thanks to fear, shame, & religious traditions/bad theology not from what God & Christ actually did and showed us in scripture. I remember my entire life growing up in church and well into adulthood being afraid of God. Fear of God’s wrath was a constant theme of messages whether it was spoke outright or implied.

Ted Dekker writes in The Forgotten Way, “Many people have been led to believe that Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) primary purpose was to rescue them from the Father’s wrath. But as Yeshua said, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Yeshua and your Father, though distinct, are one. If He and His Father are one, why would He need to save you from Himself?”

How many times have I heard a pastor or speaker say “if you feel far from God guess who moved?” How can they imply that we have moved away from God yet also say that God will never leave us? Isn’t this contradictory? No wonder people leave church when there is so much contradiction coming from those who are supposed to be the leaders.

I recently read an article about a well known preacher/evangelist who was asking to be nominated for a certain denomination’s top leader of their national organization. The author of the article was questioning if this was a wise choice due to the man’s views on several things. In one quote from the evangelist he referred to children as vipers going on to say something to the effect of you have to train the evil out of children.

The Christian church has a history of a sin management approach to their views. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we aren’t sinful. We all are and we need to acknowledge that. But when you have this metaphorically beaten over your head it sets us up for a spiritual scarcity mindset. It inadvertently teaches people their identity is in their sinful nature instead of their identity being in Christ. This perspective can trap people in a spirit of fear and despair.

What if instead we focused on helping people understand how they are created in the imago deli, in the image of God? Teaching them to yes be aware of their sin, but not heaping guilt and shame on them.

What would happen if we flipped the script from what so many churches teach? What if instead of preaching at them to “turn or burn” or focusing on “sin management” and trying to keep them from “going to hell”  we showed them how they are created in Christ because in Christ we live and move and have our being? Christ is all and in all.
I wonder what that would do for our mental, spiritual, and maybe even physical health?

What if instead of looking at people dualistically as good or bad and thinking we need to “save” them we showed them the love of Christ? Maybe if someone had taught us this we wouldn’t live out of fear or shame or striving to “be a good Christian” so we don’t go to hell when we die. Maybe we could show others their true worth and that they don’t have to live in fear and shame. I’m not saying excuse actions that are harmful or hold them accountable for actions that need to change. What if those actions are born out of an incomplete or incorrect view of themselves? Shouldn’t that be the root we look at?

This is what learning about the enneagram has done for me. It’s shown me how I was created to be an image of God to others. Yes, it’s taught me about my weaknesses when I’m living in my core fear, but it’s also shown me that I was created with an aspect of God’s image that is my greatest strength. Learning about my spiritual gifts and my strengths has shown me that how I serve others does not have to look like how someone else serves others. It has led me on a path to understanding that I don’t have to live in fear of God’s wrath.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m no where near perfect and daily have to  surrender the core fears that try to sabotage me. I still find myself acting and reacting out of those fears, but they are no longer my identity. There is power in awareness without shame. I’ve come to believe it’s shame and guilt  that keeps people blinded to their identity in Christ. There is power in letting go and surrendering the fear, guilt, and shame that keeps us from seeing who we are in Christ. Because implying people’s identity is their sinful nature doesn’t seem to be helping our world.

The Spiritual Practice of Sourdough Bread Making

Over the past year I’ve come to see everything as spiritual even if I do not perhaps see it in the very moment. But everything is spiritual. We may not allow God to teach us through it, but it is still spiritual. Even in the seemingly ordinary tasks there is holiness to be found. What we may see as ordinary is really quite extraordinary if we open our eyes to see it. Life is ordinarily extraordinary.

In 2020 it seemed like many people were wanting to learn to make sourdough bread. I enjoy baking and had tried making bread many years ago when my son was little, but being the mom of a boy takes a lot of energy so I put the bread making aside. I typically don’t follow trends or hop on a bandwagon. If I try something, or become interested in something that seems like the trend at the time, you can rest assured I took a lot of time and thought before diving into it and if it’s something I stick with or continue doing then you know I truly do find joy in it or have found something transformative in it.

But alas 2020 was not the year for me to try my hand at sourdough bread making again. I couldn’t find the right flours to use so I set that desire aside. In the fall of 2021, I decided to try again. I found the flours I wanted to use and so I started. I made a starter. It took some trial and error, taking a break, and coming back to it, but I can now safely say I’m addicted to it. Much like I am growing flowers now.

And there is something holy about making sourdough bread just like there is growing flowers. Sourdough bread making is a spiritual practice.

There is something holy in waiting for the levain, in adding the salt on to of the dough, then spreading the levain over the dough, then gently pressing the levain into the dough and then using more pressure to mix it in and throughout the dough. There is something holy about the folding and waiting for the dough to rise, then shaping the loaves and letting them proof overnight, waiting to bake them the next morning.

The process makes me more aware of my day. It slows me down causing me to be intentional with each step. There is no “throwing it all together” in sourdough bread making.

I learn from making the starter that it takes feeding and care and that what is all around becomes the growth. We have to throw some of the growth away in the beginning keeping just what is needed and feed it again. There is a rhythm to it. The starter grows each day, and each day some of the growth needs to be removed and used to make other things and the original fed again.  A perfect metaphor for life.

Then when it’s time we make the bread. It teaches me there are times the dough must be worked and then are times it needs to rest. Isn’t that how life is? Times when we need to work out our salvation and times where we need to rest in God’s timing even though we want to rush it?

Does it always work out perfectly? No. Is there a spiritual practice in trying again, taking stock of what you should do differently the next time? Absolutely. This is the power of learning to make sourdough bread. From making your own starter from scratch and learning what works, to starting your levain and dough to the finished boule or batard, it is a practice showing us the spiritual practice of life if we will only become aware and see it through different eyes. 

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.