Many of you may be familiar with the Enneagram. Some of you may not! 🙂 I’ve read about it before, but until yesterday, I hadn’t yet attempted to discover my type. My mom and dad just recently figured out what type they are, and this week, my counselor also suggested that I read about the Enneagram because it could really help me learn about myself.
Yesterday, I read through the Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele. This is a really easy (ha!) way to figure out one’s type. As I read, I was a bit discouraged because I just didn’t seem to fit perfectly into any of the types, I just slightly related with most of them (some more than others) – but then I arrived at type Nine, the Peacemaker. Oh, type Nine. I felt warmly acquainted with type Nine as soon as I read the first page of the chapter.
“Nines are motivated by the need to keep the peace, to merge with others, and to avoid conflict. Since they, especially, take on qualities of the other eight types, Nines have many variations in their personalities, from gentle and mild-mannered to independent and forceful.”
Wow. That first sentence seemed to hit the nail right on the head. It was a bit humbling to read about myself throughout the chapter because my faults were very clearly laid out for all to see – and, admittedly, I’m giving you blog readers a lot of insight into my soul by telling you my type. 🙂 It was also great, however, to read about my strengths or “could-be” strengths because it inspired me to keep pushing through some of the issues I find myself facing at the moment. All in all, I was excited to realize that I’m not the only person in the whole entire world who deals with the things I deal with! 😉
I also found it very, very, very interesting that my very prominent “wing” (you’ll understand what this means if you do a little reading about the Enneagram) is an Eight. Why is this interesting? Well, my dad is an Eight. Another interesting fact – my mom is a Three, and one of her “arrows” (again, read about it!) points to Nine! Somehow, we are all intertwined, but not exactly the same. Now that I think about it, weirder still, Ryan is a Seven which means he and I share the same wing, an Eight!
I know that some of you may be thinking that this sounds like a load of silliness. For those of you that are concerned with the basis and reliability of the Enneagram, I’d like to suggest that you read the Enneagram: a Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. It helped to clear up a bit of that confusion for myself. However, I definitely suggest reading the Enneagram Made Easy first because the Christian Perspective is great, but a lot heavier and it’s more difficult to type yourself with that book.
Maybe you’re thinking that the Enneagram is the purpose of this post. Actually, it’s not! We’ve only just begun! Aren’t you excited?
The Enneagram, and my type, type Nine, “the Peacemaker,” are both significant things to remember while reading the little story I’m about to relay to you.
In the past month, I have been struck by the amount of people that have been asking us how many children we plan to have. Sometimes, we go through several months in which nobody asks us the “how many?” question. This has definitely been a “how many?” season. I’m sure a majority of those of you with families can relate.
If you are a regular reader of mine, you are probably aware that Ryan and I have decided to leave our family size entirely up to God and his timing. You can read an extensive post on the “how and why” here. To recap, however, let me give a little explanation. Ever since the summer before I became pregnant with Jack up until this spring, I was trying to learn how to listen and obey the Holy Spirit as I heard him speak to me about our family size. “Trust me,” he would say. “Really, Lord? Can I trust you? I want to trust you!” Back and forth, back and forth we went. I knew I could bring myself to trust him, but I wasn’t so sure that Ryan could. This spring, however, Ryan and I sat down and had a nice, long talk about this conviction I had been feeling. Finally, the Lord had spoken to Ryan as well – we were both on the same page. God is ultimately in control of my womb and we know that he will give us as many or as few children as he pleases. He can work through birth control, but we’ve decided to give up our control and lay ourselves before him, ready to take what he hands us because we know he won’t give us more than we can handle. We also believe that God says children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward, and a blessing – therefore, we want to receive them as a blessing.
This conviction is not widely accepted and many have difficulty understanding and/or accepting it. I do not blame them, nor do I judge them if they choose to live differently. I often find myself in a difficult situation when I am asked about how many children we wish to have.
“As many as God gives us.” “However many we have.” “We’re ready to accept as many as we’re given.” You get the picture.
When I say this, I am almost always met with a blank look, a raised eyebrow, and even the occasional dropped-open mouth. “Excuse me? What do you mean?” I think more often than not, they do know what I mean, but they want me to make sure I really meant what I said. 🙂 Well, I go ahead and repeat myself, and then we get down to business.
These are some typical responses I receive after the initial shock sets in:
“So, as many as God gives you? What if you end up like the Duggars, with 18 children? You’re telling me you’d be fine with 18 children? I understand wanting a lot, but 18 is just overdoing it.”
“Well, just wait until you have a few more, you’ll change your mind!”
“Yeah, I thought I wanted a lot, too! Now look at me!”
“Well, some people are just made for big families.”
I regret to say that more often than not, I am very discouraged by these responses and admittedly, I allow myself to back down. I never give up on my conviction, but I neglect to hold my head up and explain that yes, I understand that it’s not typical or “normal” in today’s society, but my husband and I feel that what we are doing is right and we know the Lord is pleased by our obedience. Usually, I say something like, “I know what you mean,” or “Well, I know I can’t predict the future, and maybe one day we won’t feel this way, but we really feel like it’s right and we’re just trying to obey.” I may not be explaining myself very well, but hopefully you get the idea.
After those kinds of conversations, I almost always feel like I’ve let God and myself down. I silently reprimand myself for not standing up for what I believe in. I feel like I am always trying to please people, and if they disagree with me, I scramble to find a way to keep them happy while somehow also trying to maintain my point. It doesn’t usually work.
This is where my personality type comes into play. Last night, while reading, I felt like a lightbulb turned on! It shed light on so much of who I am and why I do or say some things. It also helped me realize that I can break out of that! I don’t have to make everyone happy all the time. Realizing this has taken a lot of weight off my shoulders!
So, I am happy to say that in my most recent exchange involving the “how many?” question, I did hold my head up, and I spoke with conviction. I did not back down. I was kind and hopefully did not make my partner-in-conversation feel judged in any way – but I didn’t let their looks of incredulity put me down.
Truly, my goal is never to judge. It’s just not my place. I would never consciously try to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but I think that sometimes (myself included), we are uncomfortable with what we don’t understand.
And that just about sums it up!
So, what do you think about the Enneagram? What’s your type? I’d love to know!