My father called me Saturday afternoon and left a message to tell me that he and my mother had just returned home, and they were thinking of me. The Michigan-Purdue football game was on--I could hear it in the background--and I could picture them sitting there together, the view of the front yard to the left, the openness of the living room above and around them. Usually, home is a calming place. It feels far away now.
Louisiana has been good for me. It has made me come back to myself. Begin to focus on who I am, what I want that I already have (friends, independence, the ability to get things done), and also what I don't have, (confidence in myself, companionship, strength). Or maybe, some things just run out sometimes. But being on my own, I feel it more--when strength and confidence run out.
Being by myself reminds me who I am and who I have been.
I crave being unique, set-apart, different.
The pink wind suit, in second grade. The matching rainbow necklace. My blue stirrup pants, in first grade. I wore them three times a week. The insatiable need later on in middle and high school to express myself through art projects, writing projects, journaling. I craved expression, needed to process what was happening around me within the confines of my world.
I've begun to understand myself more and more in the past few years through the wisdom and guidance of The Enneagram Model, a type system that uses nine core personality types to describe the majority of human biases and inclinations.
Last week I began reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile (published by InterVarsity Press in 2016). The book describes the history of the Enneagram and the nine basic personality types comprising the model. Each type is described in a chapter, starting with what is known as the "Gut/Instinctive" types, 8, 9, and 1: The Challenger, The Peacemaker, and The Perfectionist. Next come the Heart/Feeling types, 2, 3, and 4: The Helper, The Performer, and The Romantic. Finally, those types in the Head/Thinking Center, 5, 6, and 7: The Investigator, The Loyalist, and The Enthusiast.
I'm a 9. Peacemaker. With a 1 wing, (The Perfectionist). Saying this probably doesn't mean much to you, but hopefully I'm sparking your interest.
Throughout life though, it seems that at some point we take a moment to look back and ask ourselves: Of all the roads to take, why this one? Why did you, I--why do we--do what we do?
Each of us is different. And like my (new) friend Sarah said last week while discussing this book, "We could make the same decision, but we'd mostly likely be making them for different reasons." What matters, she said, is the motivation. Why we do what we do. And that centers around our desires, our needs, the way we look at life. Everyone has different eyes.
Last night I attended a class/book-talk on the chapters about the Gut/Instinctual personalities (8,9,1), and I came away feeling really, really low. Avoiding communication with people. Upset. Brooding. I've had a sort of...uncomfortable history with understanding myself. I've had friends tell me difficult things, I've seen personality traits in myself and in those close to me, and I've learned how I've been formed as a person, as an individual. Sometimes, I really dislike myself. Maybe that's what was going on last night. And I needed a pick-me-up. I didn't know where to go for it.
But. That's where God comes in.
I want to get in the habit of going to him right away. Going to him immediately.
Life of the Beloved, by Henri J.M. Nouwen. The edition I'm reading was published by The Crossroad Publishing Company in 1992.
Here's a section of it. It speaks to me.
There is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: "You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests." It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: "You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody--unless you can demonstrate the opposite." / These voices are so loud and persistent that it is easy to believe them. That's the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection. [...] ...the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. [...] When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, the success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation. As soon as someone accuses or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." (31-32)
Deep breath. Another one. Deep breath.
. . . That's a lot. It doesn't feel good.
What I will try to tell myself this week is: You are Beloved. You are not a nobody. You are Beloved.
Both The Road Back to You and Life of the Beloved were brought to my attention by outside sources. And I'm getting a lot out of these books. Trying to let them soak in. But what is important for me, at least--and this might be important/you might relate to it, as well--is not to let these books, this material, own me. The only thing that should ever own me is the love of Christ, the confidence and presence of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For whatever it's worth, I need to look UP this week, friends. To know how much I'm loved. I hope you know that, too. Know you're loved.
Be blessed, love deeply, seek beauty. Seek God.