It's Greek to me
Summers are meant for travel, and my family and I have done our fair share this year. The day this post was published, I was traveling back home from South Korea with my husband. We spent a week eating Korean Barbecue, seeing beautiful palaces and getting to know the Korean people.
In May my husband and I traveled to Greece with our son, Michael, and his wife, Becky. We had a great trip! Next to the amazing food and the views of the Caldera from our Santorini balcony, our favorite part of the trip was a guided tour through Athens, Greece. Our tour guide was an archeologist by trade. She knew Athens and loved its history. During our day with her, she showed us the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, and the Roman Agora where the Apostle Paul spoke to the Greeks about Jesus. She also tried to explain Greek history and culture. She spoke of Socrates and Plato, and two Greek philosophies that she said had helped shape her life and her country’s history: 1) “know thyself,” and 2) “everything in moderation.”
These two thoughts are intriguing and filled with blog fodder. I have pondered them, prayed about them and have searched God for the truth in the statements. So for today’s post,I’d like to look at how these two thoughts can positively impact your marriage, your relationship with Christ and your fellowship with other believers. I hope they will change your life as they changed mine.
Keep reading, my friend, as we take a side trip into the world of enneagrams to further understand these two philosophies and find ways to apply them to our lives.
My attempts to understand “who I am” and “why I do the things I do” and started in college. Seems appropriate, huh? College is often a place where people find themselves. For me, it all began with a Psychology professor at the University of Montevallo. His introduction to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was eye opening. This assessment was created by a mother-daughter team, Catherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myer, in the early 1900s. It gives you 88 statements and asks you to respond on a scale with the level in which you “agree” or “disagree.” Based on your truthful responses, the assessment tells you your personality tendencies and places you into one of 16 categories. Granted, it is pseudoscience, but it is nonetheless fascinating. As for me, the assessment put me into the ENFJ category. I remember being the only one in my class who was an ENFJ. Oddly, this felt pleasing. ENFJs make up 2-3% of the people who take the test. So, I am not your ordinary gal 😊! The assessment made sense to me – it said that I was an Extrovert, and an Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging person. But, it was hard for me to hold on to this information, and I never saw any spiritual application. So, over the years my interest in this assessment waned.
Later I took a myriad of Spiritual Gifts assessments, etc.; each one agreeing that I was intuitive and judgmental. These assessments most often put me in the “prophet” category. Once again, I did not see any spiritual growth in these assessments. So, I continued to look … until about 24 months ago when I was first introduced to ENNEAGRAM. The enneagram assessment has deep roots dating back to the 4th century when Monks and mystics began to explore nine personality types and began to link them to the “Deadly Sins.” Early Christians believed that learning about themselves would help them to better understand God. At first, all this appeared to be too controversial, the symbol alone - oy vey! I must admit that I quickly googled “enneagram” to make sure that it was not part of the occult. It was not.
In the 70’s and 80’s the enneagram personality classification picked up speed with the work of PROTOANALYSIS by the Chilean Psychologist, Naranjo. By the time his work reached the US, protoanalysis had become “Enneagram of Personality.” Since then, numerous Christian authors have viewed it as a tool to use in personal sanctification. Finally, here was something that not only explained me, but also pointed me to Jesus! The enneagram is not anything scary.
Simply, it is a tool for seeing the parts of yourself that are not yet like Christ.
The Enneagram divides all personalities into nine main types,with potential variations, or “wings,” with the personality number on either side. So, there are 27 possible personality types. All are full of good traits, and all possess bad tendencies. Just like there is no perfect number, there is no perfect person… other than Christ. The descriptions for all the nine enneagrams will speak to you in some way, but the description of your own enneagram number will be the most uncomfortable. The detailed description of your own enneagram will seem as if someone is peering into your soul. Sometimes it is tricky getting your correct identification, but it is worth the effort. I understand that most people get their number wrong the first time, I know I did.
There are some simple $3 apps that you can buy; each with 90 question tests to take. There are also many books you can read on the subject. I suggest exploring enneagrams in the safety and security of your community, or tribe. There are things that you know about yourself, and there are other things that other people know to be true about you that you may be too shy or humble to admit.
When my husband and I first listened to the Ian Cron’s book,“The Road Back to You,” on Audible, we both got very emotional when we heard our own number described and discussed. As a couple, we saw how each part of us had rubbed up against the other and had also complimented each other.
Aaron Porter, author of the Soul Architect:
“The goal here is not to ﬁnd out how messed up you are. The goal is to spray for bugs that are hiding in the walls of your heart. Our ﬂesh is like the termite that doesn’t eat the dining room table; it eats the ﬂoor beneath the table. We want to ﬁnd the hidden motives of our hearts so that the cross can have its way with us and the resurrection can enliven us with Spirit power to new abundant life.”
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS ON THE ENNEAGRAM REPRESENT?
1- Reformer or Perfectionist
2- Helper or Friend
3- Achiever or Performer
4- Individualist or Romantic
5- Investigator or Observer
6- Loyalist or Skeptic
7- Enthusiast or Entertainer
8- Challenger or Protector
9- Peacemaker or Mediator
When I consider that God made us in His own image, I feel fairly certain that what He created included His personality. I believe that God makes up the good part of each of the 9 categories. Consider that the Apostle Paul refers to people who make up the body of Christ … the community of Believers … as having some knees, some feet, some eyebrows, etc. Our own personality can be described in the same way. We can have some 8s, some 2s and some 5s … all, in their perfected form, are a part of the body of Christ; like God in His totality. All numbers are needed – no second class children of God!
I believe it is helpful for those who are in ministry together, and for the church family, to recognize who they are in the body of Christ so that their healthy parts can be affirmed and their negative tendencies held accountable. My first enneagram assessment said that I was one point more a “2” than an “8.” I was happy with a “2” designation. I read both descriptions and bristled at the 8’s “challenger” nature. Please, I thought, let me be anything but an “8!” But after more than a couple of my friends pushed back on my “2” designation, I began to dig a little deeper. Enneagram, like God, is more concerned with your motive or the condition of your heart then just your actions. A “2,” or Helper, is motivated by people pleasing; an “8,” or Challenger, is motivated by a desire to lead and be respected; not loved. Me. This knowledge permitted me to relook at the times when I had been offended by family, friends and the church and to see this hurt, that I had not fully understood, through fresh eyes. Through humble eyes acknowledging my part in each hurt. This knowledge also gave my prayer life new focus as I realized why things bothered me. It showed me areas I still needed to surrender to God’s control and areas where I was allowed to stand up and lead. God is not shocked or disappointed with me and my energetic boldness. He made me the way I am. He knows me! And, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, He loves me, and He loves you too! Just like you are.
The power this knowledge can have on your marriage and fellowship within the family of God is intense -it is worth your deep dive into at least one of the books recommended here in this post. Even if Enneagrams don’t strike a chord in your soul, God will direct your travels to knowing yourself so you can appreciate who He is. (Lamentations 3:40)
Ian Cron, author of The Road Back to You:
“This (enneagram) is helpful information so long as you don’t waste your time trying to accomplish any of it apart from the transformative power of God’s grace.”
ENNEAGRAM AND MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
To know yourself is an important first step in knowing God, knowing your spouse and living in community. John Calvin said that it is impossible to know yourself without first knowing God. I don’t disagree. But in my own process of self-discovery, it began with me. I am a sinner who thought I was pretty capable on my own. I had to truly accept that there is nothing righteous in me. I am wired with some natural abilities and a desire to lead, not follow. For sure! I am always ready to give God a hand- silly girl! And as an 8 wing 7 (8w7), I am a bundle of energy and “a lot to deal with.” With my confidence and desire to protect the marginalized, I can be a steam rolling sister instead of a humble servant. My desire is to possess God instead of being fully submitted to Him. Even typing this statement is hard, but it truth. It is a truth that I now arm myself with daily so that I can allow the Holy Spirit to change me and submit to my Heavenly Father. Today when I am offended, I drill down to find out which part of my life I thought “I had” under control, and surrender it again to God.
A humble servant, in right relationship with God, cannot be offended.
ENNEAGRAM AND MY MARRIAGE
My wonderful husband is a “1” who doesn’t appear to wing in either direction. I have always said that he is the most disciplined man I have ever met. He is perfect … or so his façade would like you to think. He is a very good man, a good father, a patient teacher, but he is perpetually beating himself up. Since perfection doesn’t exist for humans, he lives in a state of constant frustration. One thing that we have in common is that we are both motivated by the same thing – both “8s” and “1s” are motived by anger. LOL! Fun times at the Creekmore house 😊! Jody gets mad at himself and I get mad at anyone not smart enough to follow me. We have always known we are both sinners and saved by grace, but enneagrams have helped us interpret our very different journeys and have helped us to learn how to walk better together as we follow Jesus. For example, I now have a better idea about the very self-critical voice inside Jody’s head. So, I am more careful with my words and try to affirm him when he is struggling. I say to Jody, “I know the story you are telling yourself about this situation; let me remind you of God’s truth.” Jody has also learned to point out when we are following my suggestion and are practicing the “submit one to each other.” (Ephesians 5:21) He is very sensitive to my need to lead and gives me plenty of room when it is appropriate. We are not stuck by our numbers. We try not to use them as crutches. We are not perfect, but we are both fully His!
Sidebar: Jody and I now understand why we both love to travel so much. In a good space, Jody moves to a 7, an enthusiast, while as a 8w7, I live there! I always love adventure and FUN! When we vacation, we are perfectly compatible! I love vacation Jody! And we have spent much of our marriage vacationing and enjoying each other’s company!
ENNEAGRAM AND MY CHURCH FAMILY
Deep down, we think the world, and more specifically our church family, is made up of people just like us. NOT! Thanks to enneagram, I am less surprised now when someone reacts differently than I would. It is human to think that a reaction other than your own is wrong. But it is not true. I believe seeing people as different from me, but not wrong, has given me greater appreciation and patience for dealing with fellow believers. In order for us to operate as a fully functioning body of Christ we must be able to work, play and grow together. I need to not look at my “5” sister and think, “easy prey.” Instead, I need to look to her giftedness and seek her opinion on matters of spiritual growth – she has probably spent more time considering and praying over the issue at hand. Although her voice may not be as loud or confident as mine, it may be the correct voice to speak to the situation at hand. 🥰
I now start every interaction with people thinking: 1) there is a good chance my opinion is wrong, 2) no push-shove for control, God is in control and 3) moderation, moderation, moderation.
Interesting side bar: I now know why my daughter, a very cerebral “5,” has been telling me for over two decades, “Be only 50%, Mom!” She has long understood the excessive nature of my 8w7’ness! 😂
Moderation is also one of Socrates’s principles, but until my recent trip to Greece, I’d never given it much thought. Duh- I am 150% always. But this idea of moderation is Biblical too! God’s word states that we should let our “reasonableness” be known (Philippians 4:5) and do nothing in excess (Ephesians 5:18). As Americans, this can be counter-culture. It is easy to fall into the trap of excess and become dissatisfied with having your needs adequately met. I think another benefit of my husband’s and my enneagram journey has been our increased sense of gratitude. We are more thankful in the moment and not always looking for more. We are also wrestling with the concept of sabbath rest, not in the wheel house of either of our numbers. But it is God’s desire for us and we have a plan in place for this fall. 😊 We are also more comfortable embracing our own shortcomings, and the shortcomings of others, with more grace. This has proven exceptionally helpful in dealing with issues facing marriages today in the church. We are thankful for the journey and the fruit the Holy Spirit is growing in our self aware lives!
I am trying not to be that Enneagram enthusiast who labels everyone after a few minutes’ conversation. Well, maybe not out loud 😊! I’m a work in progress!
Thank you for reading WordWashedWife each week. Please feel free to share this post on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Stay washed in the word!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10
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