Have you guys taken the Enneagram yet? No? Why ever not? It's all the rage. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me give you a light speed enneducation. (I like to make my own words sometimes. Roll with me.) The Enneagram is a personality self-assessment making its way into churches, counseling rooms, board rooms and offices. In short, you answer a bunch of questions about yourself on their website, and it spits out your "number", a number from 1-9. I'm a 4 - The Individualist. Maybe this is why I like to create my own words. Don't dictate what words to use! I make my OWN language, man!
Now, I know some church folks get a bit twitchy with psychology or self-discovery talk. Unfortunately, in an effort to avoid humanistic theology, some have completely rejected any idea of getting to know and love yourself. But, we're better than that here. We know there is a difference between learning about self and worshipping self. We remember David asked God to search him and reveal anything unpleasing. David wanted to know himself better so he could be better, and that's the whole point of knowing self: growth.
So, since I'm into self-betterment, I dove into the Enneagram and unearthed my 4. I can't persuade Lou to take it, but with all my diagnostic prowess, I've decided he's a 7 with a side of 8. A 7 wants to have fun, so I've officially concluded he couldn't be bothered with sitting down and taking an "assessment". What 7 in all the earth and hills would want to do that? I wonder how many 7s even know they're 7s. Exactly few I'm thinking.
But I wanted to know, and I desired all the knowledge, so I began researching a 4's qualities. Traits popped up like: moody, sensitive, and dramatic. WHAT?! I AM NOT DRAMATIC! HOW DARE YOU? I'M INCENSED! When I read a 4 can also have problems with self-absorption and melancholy, I felt, well, melancholy. I don't want to be this person! Surely I'm a 9, the Peacemaker or a 2, the Helper. I mean, sometimes I help people, and I don't want anyone to be mad at me. That's the same thing as peacemaking, right? Although miffed, I soldiered on. Thankfully, I then encountered descriptions like: emotionally honest, self-aware, personal and creative. Okay, I like those. As the church people say, I receeeeive those!
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me . . . Then the God of peace will be with you." Php. 4:8-9
Man, so much of our emotional health is about where we place our thoughts. We can either look inwardly and find only the negative, or we can continue searching until we land on the positive. I mean, look at the result Paul highlights for us above when we choose to dwell on the good: peace! Dude, I'm always looking for peace. So, yes, I know I can sometimes be moody, but when I view those see-saw emotions as a conduit for creativity, it changes my perspective. What if we start looking at our less desirable qualities as avenues to healthy and loving behavior? As characteristics that can drive us to something more beneficial? Perfectionism can morph into grace-filled integrity and make you a gem of an employee. Anxiety can turn into beautiful dependence on God and make you more courageous because you trust him more. Doubt can evolve into a deep assurance of truth and make you a killer source of biblical knowledge and evidence. This is a more honoring way to look at our weaknesses than beating ourselves up for simply being human.
So, if you're brave enough to take the Enneagram and expose your challenges, or if you've come up against some personal attributes you're not too crazy about, maybe view them as sweet, strange gifts waiting to be refashioned into something beautiful and meaningful. Search them out, see them, own them, but then turn around and shovel pass them to Jesus. You were never meant to ruminate on them or pummel yourself with them. Regift those weaknesses to the one who has the ability to transform them into strengths and hand them back. They'll be some of the most precious gifts you've ever received.