Our church has been rather obsessed with the enneagram lately (thanks Kalle). I just got back from the women’s retreat, and a lot of it incorporated the enneagram as a way to understand each other. It also helps us to understand how different people relate to God. Of course, there is a range within each enneagram number, and each individual has a unique makeup of each number, but there are some general truths that can apply to each number. Since Bobby wrote about his “twoness”, (you can read that here) I thought I would write about my “fourness”.
Enneagram fours are described as, “…self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity.” (Enneagraminstitute.com).
Fours often value beauty over stability, feeling over fact. We often feel like we don’t fit in with society, like others can’t understand us. We perceive that others think we are just being overly emotional, irrational, dark, or “complaining too much.” For years, I was ashamed of how deeply I felt things. I tried to keep everything on the surface while I was with others because I learned that I wouldn’t get the connection I was looking for. I didn’t want to be “fixed”, I wanted to be understood. I believed that if others couldn’t accept my thoughts and feelings, then God couldn’t either. I was ashamed of feeling, and I hid it from God too.
"O Lord, you have searched me and known me!…
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me tighter in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Psalm 139:1, 11-14 (ESV)
I like to think of David (who wrote this psalm) as an enneagram four. He is constantly feeling and expressing that emotion to God. He talks about the darkness he feels, but sees God in it. Listening to him walk through the darkness is comforting.
I don’t need an explanation of how he got out of it - just that he was there too. The understanding of feeling the depths.
Remembering that God formed me, knitted me together to be exactly who I am - feelings and all - has been eye opening for me. I don’t have to hide my feelings. They are part of who he made me to be. I don’t have to be ashamed of feeling deeper or bigger. Even if others won’t understand, God understands. He has “searched me and known me” (v.2). I am not alone as I walk through these ups and down, God is with me.