Annie Downs introduced me to the Enneagram a couple of months ago but it wasn't until yesterday that I actually put in effort into giving it a deeper look. Oh the joys of procrastination.
I'm a 2 on the Enneagram scale, or " The Helper" as this website put it.
Empathetic. Sincere. Warm-hearted. Friendly. Generous. Self-Sacrificing. My face broke into a smile, my head nodding in agreement as I read about the strengths of a type 2. I am all these things I thought to myself.
I think I definitely do these things well, I mused as I glanced over them again.
We can discuss my self-righteous prideful thoughts more in person but yes I am now acutely aware of how prideful I sounded.
The beauty of the Enneagram, though, is that it provides a summary of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the different personality types.
Flatterer. People-pleaser ( Definitely the president of that club ). Can sometimes do things for people in order to feel needed. Struggles with pride ( the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach began to form ), self-deception, limited sense of self ( Pfffft! I definitely know who I am. Sometimes... ), tendency to manipulate others in order to have their own emotional needs met ( No! There is no way I do that. Is there? Do I do that? ). Has a tendency to get over-involved in other people's lives. Struggles with the idea that love has to be earned.
This often results in an unhealthy inauthenticity in many of their relationships.
And just like that, the Enneagram laid bare my deepest fears, struggles and desires before me.
My fear of being unwanted and unworthy of love.
My deep desire to be loved unconditionally.
My efforts to earn that love from the people around me.
My stomach twisted into uncomfortable knots as I read and re-read about my personality type and thought back through instances where I'd seen these characteristics play out in overt or covert ways. I could feel my mind and heart begin to sink into a self-depreciating black hole of over analysis and emotional recycling and knew that although these characteristics were things that I had seen be evident in my life, I desperately needed Truth to be spoken.
Unhealthy patterns were evident in my life and that needed to change. But this type of change had to happen beyond the surface - my deep heart issues have to be dealt with and only God can do that.
What does the Gospel say to this Lord? I whispered desperately this morning.
To my desire for unconditional love, the Gospel of Jesus Christ says that God seeing and knowing my brokenness and the depravity of my soul CHOSE to still pursue relationship with me. Jesus humbly took on human form, giving up the glories of heaven for earth - taking the punishment that I so rightly deserved by dying on the cross. He was righteous. I was unrighteous. He then rose from the death rendering death and sin powerless and consequently giving new life to all who believe in Him. My choice to accept and see Jesus as my Lord and my Saviour means that the righteousness of Christ has been placed on me. God's wrath is satisfied and I am called into fellowship with Him. Though unworthy of this wildly extravagant mercy, it was lavished on me. Extravagant love was given to me! I did not earn it; I definitely could not earn it. It was a gift freely given without any expectations or conditions!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ says that I do not need to present a certain image in order to earn the affections of God. He knows me fully and yet still loves me deeply. I have especially felt this pressure to present a certain image since becoming a missionary and working in full - time Christian ministry. Whether internally or externally applied, I have felt the pressure to be a 'good Christian' and present a certain perfect image to the world. As though Christians are not broken people in need of grace. As though I do not have an individual personality, likes or dislikes, hard days and rough moods.
While I am called to be kind, loving, compassionate and gentle with others - and the Holy Spirit is continually refining me so that this fruit is produced in my life, I do not need to be alter or change my personality in order to make myself more likeable. I do not need to fit in with the people around me in order to be considered worthy or deserving of their affection. I do not need to perform in order to have a hold of their attention. In Christ, I am secure.
I am FREE!
Christ has set me free to live free!
I can love others without putting expectations on them to fulfill my desire to be loved.
I can serve the people around me without wanting glory or affirmation of their affection for me.
I can build healthy relationships with people without depending on them to be my source of worth and love.
There is no need to be vulnerable and open with every single person that I meet, creating a false sense of security through facilitating false weak intimacy.
I don't need to adapt my personality or my opinions to suite the people around me.
My worth is not based on what people think about me.
Christ has set me Free.
But this freedom is not to be misused.
The strengths and relational capacity that God has given me as an Enneagram 2 are to be used to the glory of God and for the good of the people around me. Empathy. Sincerity. Warm-heartedness. Friendliness. Generosity. Self-Sacrifice. These are all good qualities but what I keep forgetting is that I can only live these out well if I live them out of the overflow of my relationship with God.
I struggle with rejoicing and mourning well with the people God puts in my life - afraid to fully get into the depth of life with people because of the cost it will have.
I don't always want to be kind or patient or gentle or generous and most times I massively fail at this.
There are a lot of times when I don't want to be intentional or put effort into my friendships.
And dying to my own expectations and pride and self-righteousness is HARD.
God who is rich in mercy and abounding in love has made me alive in Christ; made me a new creation in Christ; raised me to new life in Christ; continues to increase my capacity to love deeply like Christ; puts to death my sinful nature and conforms me to the likeness of Christ.
And oh how often I forget this.
How desperately I need to remember this truth when I am tempted to fall into the trap of trying to earn love, trying to please people, trying to be good enough, trying to be found worthy of affection and effort and intention.
Full known yet deeply loved.
Raised to new life in Christ.
Given the gift of salvation by grace through faith, not because of anything I have done or could do.