Meet the Enneagram

Last week an article I wrote about the Enneagram was published on The Change Blog. It didn’t seem to generate much buzz, and I was disappointed. Then I realized that the Enneagram isn’t exactly a household word. In fact, when I bring it up in conversation, most people say, “The what?” After I explain a bit, they usually ask, “And how do you spell that?” So what is the Enneagram and what’s so great about it? First of all, a warning: There is no such thing as learning a little bit about the Enneagram and then being done—or even being satisfied with what you know. The Enneagram refers to a circle with nine points that represent nine personality types.  The word comes from the Greek words for “nine” and “figure,” so it’s literally a nine-pointed figure. Inside the circle are arrows that make the diagram resemble a weird geometry puzzle. I’m sure a lot of people were scared off by the Enneagram diagram below that the editor of “The Change Blog” chose for my post—and why I chose a photo of a natural geometric puzzle to lead this post. So much more than a geometry diagram, the Enneagram is a system to gain insight into ourselves and others.  It is a tool for self-growth and transformation. But it also requires study and inner work and a willingness to take a good hard look at yourself and your habitual ways of being. We each contain a dimension of all the nine types, but we are predisposed to one type in particular. Each of the nine types has strengths and weaknesses. Studying the Enneagram is complicated. Each of the...

The Person God Intended Me to Be

“Humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God, and since no two people are alike, if you have the humility to be yourself you will not be like anyone else in the whole universe. ” ~Thomas Merton We often want to be someone other than we’re not. Or we compare ourselves to others and come up short. Lent begins today and is the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves, “Am I the person God intended me to be?” And since none of us is perfect, we all have room to grow toward that person. In his book The Rhythm of Life, Matthew Kelly talks about God wanting each of us to become “the-best-version-of-yourself.”  The word “best” may imply trying to be perfect—especially if you’re a perfectionist in recovery like me. Perhaps a goal during Lent is to try to become better than we’ve been. Becoming a better person may mean making a small shift in our habits by making more time for prayer and reading Scripture. It may mean making a small attitude adjustment about those people we find hard to get along with and trying to see them with new eyes. It may mean working on shifting the way we see ourselves. Being more kind and gentle with ourselves when we mess up. Forgiving ourselves when we’re less than perfect. Believing that we’re limitlessly loved by God because of God’s “no matter whatness,” as Gregory Boyle writes in Tattoos on the Heart.  It may mean spending more time reflecting on life’s purpose and meaning by asking two important questions: Who am I called to be? What am...