All four of us piled into our small sedan with drinks and snacks in hand ready to take on the 9-hour drive home through the plains of west Texas. I was filled with excitement after touring a facility that had been providing holistic ministry to their community for the last 20 years. We were all excitedly dreaming about how to provide our community with this same type of resource. As we shared our thoughts about the experiences I was startled when my supervisor said: “It looks like we just can’t do it at this time…..”
My heart stopped and my head began to spin. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears.
I had the powerful urge to disappear and was even pondering the idea of simply jumping out of the car. I was REALLY passionate about this dream. I am an enneagram 5 (see chart) which means I don’t do well when “blindsided.” I took a deep breath, held back tears and bluntly asked why we made the 2-day trek if the ministry would not be an option in our area. An answer was given but I really don’t remember it since I had just escaped into my inner world in an effort to think through my feelings.
We sat there in awkward silence for a bit but when the tension got too much for my enneagram 7 (see chart) supervisor, she suggested we play a car game. I OBVIOUSLY opted out but my other teammates agreed to play along. So, for the next two hours, they played games while I melted into the corner, only coming out to grumble an answer to a puzzle that “clearly” no one but ME was going to figure out.
All of us were pretty familiar with the Enneagram at the time but in the stress of the
moment, all of us chose to push into the unhealthy parts of our personalities rather than taking the time to understand each other and push into hard places. Something we are getting better at doing.
Have you ever had one of these awkward car moments? You know those times when you love the people you are with but feel incapable of breaking the tension? Who hasn’t, RIGHT?
I am reading Suzanne Stabile’s “The Path Between Us.” In this book she talks about how we can develop stronger relationships when we understand who we are (the good, the bad and the ugly) and how we can not only interact but grow with the other 8 types. I think of it as a two-step process.
#1 Taking time to understand, accept, and work on me.
#2 Taking time to understand, accept and work to connect with those whom I do life.
Given that not everyone in my life is as passionate about the enneagram as I am, I have decided during this season of my life, to focus on STEP #1.
According to Stabile, 5’s are natural mystics — I have taken several tests, attended a short class and read several books on the subject. So, understanding my 5ness ✅
Let’s just say acceptance is a work in progress. It is a constant reminder that I must hold two truths — I have been designed with great strengths that bring glory to God and my greatest strengths can also become my biggest weaknesses when I am too inwardly or self-focused.
I have found in life that “working on myself” really means that I go to the Father and allow Him to remove from my heart those things which keep me separated from Him and my community. It actually looks more like laying on green pastures than plowing a field. To do this I have been using the ancient practice of examen. I started by using a traditional version of examen but began to adjust the prayer focus points based on my enneagram prayer type.
I have begun to wonder what the church would look like if each of us took time every day to better understand who God says we are and reflect on how receiving this truth impacts how we function in the body of Christ. What if each of us ended every day with some type of examen that specifically asked the questions that each individual personality type struggles to overcome? Would we see a transformation? Would the church finally rise up to be the full Body of Christ? Will you consider going down to the River of Life with me to pray?
Over the next couple of weeks check out our Instagram and Facebook pages as I develop questions for each type.
Here is what I use as a 5...