Tag Archives: growth

8 to 5

My writer friend, Leigh, offered me a great opportunity to find out more about myself via the Enneagram. Richard Rohr has written a book about it. I’m going to check it out.

I love psychological tests and personality studies. I did lots of psych work in my graduate program and I would like to study much more, if I ever jump off the cliff and get my Ph.D.

Anyway, this ancient, contemplative model was so interesting to me. I have pegged myself and seen some of the work God has managed to do in me ( kicking and screaming at times) and I have figured out my friends and relations a bit as well. The great thing about this model is that it helps me to see how to better relate, communicate and see growth in myself and other folks. It examines our dark sides as well as our public personas. Very helpful.

Here is a link to a summary of each perspective/type if you want to see about yourself. Shauna Niequist wrote this helpful summary.

When I was younger, before I went through too much hell, much self-inflicted, I was clearly an 8. Obviously an 8- the Challenger – “the need to be against.” Think of the unredeemed 8 as the prototype for military dictator, mob boss or drug dealer.  Mind you, I looked like a 3, on the outside.  But inwardly and in effect, I was tyrannical in so many ways. Mean, adamantly opinionated, argumentative and angry would have described me fairly.

Thankfully, so much of that hell has been beaten out of me by Life.

But, Life  was at work and now I’m clearly a 5, which can also be crazy, aloof,  egotistical and arrogant, but not nearly so mean.

Most of my immature, horrible 8 traits have been redeemed or I have been delivered, pick your preferrable theological model. I can now maturely do the things 8’s are made to do, defend the weak, question the models, ask ugly questions nicely, and be confident in myself.

However, I am an in process 5. Investigator – “the need to perceive.” 5 is where I see most of  my present weaknesses. Shauna explains, “They (5’s) are motivated by the need to know everything and understand the universe, to be self-sufficient and left alone, and to avoid not having the answer or looking foolish. ( This could/should be on my tombstone.) They fear being useless, incapable or incompetent…They walk into a room and ask,” What information do I need to understand the environment?” They collect thoughts, ideas, silence, and personal space…” It goes on and on painting a picture of me.

In so many ways these and other descriptors ( distant, cool, arrogant, critical, negative) of this type linger in me.

I have all the strengths of 5 except the analytical part. But, 5, Investigator,  is definitely how I deal with and relate to people and what matters most to me – space, independence, etc. I don’t push people around any more, but I still watch them carefully and knowledge has become the bulk that has replaced my sheer soul power. But, I trust that knowledge less and my ability to “hold” truth less than I did. My fairly recent and purposeful forray into the contemplative discipline and mysticism, long discouraged or demonized in my youth, has definitely helped to lift so much of that soulish dependence from me. The mystical/contemplative orientation has given me a peaceable place to ask questions. I much prefer it to debate and conflict with other people. Ideas in conflict intrigue me,  conflict with people scares me.

{If my very healthy husband, Rob, were to proceed me in death, I might just join a convent. I’d be a great nun. REALLY. I like everything about that lifestyle, the quiet, I love to pray. I love community meals ( My favorite food is whatever anyone else cooks.) I loved living in a dorm setting. I like beautiful grounds and little personal space to be responsible for maintaining. I like libraries and writing and teaching. Come on, you know I would make a great nun. My great aunt is one. When it gets so crazy at my house full of kids and their schedules and friends, I’m sometimes a little jealous of Sister Mary.}

So, somehow the circumstances of my twenties/thirties worked mucho hell out of my person as a Challenger. Maybe the trials and gains of my forties are to work me free of the shortcomings of the Investigator. Let’s all hope so.

God, Great Redeemer, make change in my life come.

God, My Deliverer, move me out and on.

What are you?
(If I know you well, I have probably already run the model on you, knowledge junkie that I am.)


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I have this writer friend…

I have this writer friend…most of my dearest friends are writers…whether or not they have made that public knowledge. I’ve forced  a few out here.

This friend is a writer that does sometime let people read her heart, all out there in words and all. She’s not famous, for her writing yet, except with people who know her, who roll their eyes at how good she is, how talented she is, in this, too …and love her beautiful, brilliant, fun and talented self.

She and I were exchanging written words, my best kind, today. We addressed the issue of time, not its lack, but the necessity of identifying moment and season…at least that was what we talked around. There is a time for things.  Things said in season stick. Things done after that…well, you know what a day late and a dollar short gains you.

This seems a popular time for so much to happen. All at once. Like this is that time. And everything, long put off, long-awaited, long feared, long hoped for, long suspected, long in coming…is here, elbowing for space and trying to struggle free from my arms trying to hold each and all fast and near.

I’m kinda glad for the at-onceness. There is no way I can hold them all. No way. I can’t get my mind around much less my arms, sufficiently so.

So, I will just set all my visitations and invitations of worry and responsibility down before God, let Him take them up, and do what I know to do and be who I know to be. Because I can’t hold them any better…

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When I get home from a trip, I like to unpack all my stuff right away. It drives me crazy to even think about all that stuff sitting in the suitcase. (It doesn’t bother me in my always overflowing laundry hamper though.)  My practice of quickly unpacking what ever I bring home works fine. However, what works for clothes and traveling gear, does not work so well for experiences with God.

I have so very much encounter to unpack from this past weekend. My thumbnail descriptions on Dec. 5th, should give you an idea.

And how exactly do you, should you, unpack such?

My cohort, in my adventure, MK, (if you are not reading MK’s blog you are majorly missing out) and I have been asking ourselves and each other that question.

So, how do you unpack God experiences? Do you catalog or diagram? Do you try to re-imagine or relive the experience in your mind’s eye? Do you throw it all into the air and let the heaviest things settle back? I have done all these and many other exercises to try to gain fully what I could from encounter.

But, sometimes it may be best to just let that (holy) stuff sit in that suitcase and stare at you – with its rumpled, lived-in look. Sometimes, separating and situating all the pieces and portions of a journey render it less.

So, I think I’m going to honor what it was…and not now, maybe ever, unpack. I’m just going to leave those things – soiled of God’s presence, still and sentinel. Like a stack of stones – an Ebenezer of sorts. And, sacrifice what things they could be and do now – to preserve the memory of momentary Mystery.

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Deconstruction Zone

For the last few weeks I have been able to write multiple times a day and feel like I was gaining something: skill, voice or just reminding myself of emotions long squelched. But in the last few days – such a shift. Yes, I will do my homework Pastor Jeremy, but the compulsion to get things down has left. I find myself reading – really challenging holy things. I feel like somebody came with a big spoon and stirred everything within my mind and soul up, sort of folded my thoughts upon themselves like egg whites.

I am so very encouraged by so much that I am reading – I have found a new set of mentors- men and women from so many diverse places in the Body – speaking like things – things which are rumbling in my heart as well. I find myself just reading and reading – trying to take it all in – letting my mind stretch and stretch.

And I am asking…in response to a restlessness within…in response to a solicitation from many teachers…What it is time for me to serve? What can I bring in joy for us all to share?

In Matthew’s thirteenth chapter Jesus makes clear to those who were or would be teaching:

52He said, “Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”

That’s where I am again. One of my mentors used this analogy of God’s ways with us over and over. God comes and knocks everything off of our shelves from time to time, to bring a new paradigm, a new orientation of thought and assimilation.  Maybe we have organized our knowledge, experience by category for years, but God comes and asks us to arranged it all alphabetically. It is not an exercise in frustration, it is not some punitive task. It is to show us new association, new revelation. But it does require work: the hardest kind.

I so hated inventory any time I had to participate in it. It was tedious and pedantic. This is something far beyond. This is deconstruction of the long known, the comfortable, the safe if you will. It is the hardest kind of learning: unlearning. But unlearning: correction, adjustment, broadening, deepening and stretching is how we gain.

I feel my shelves starting to topple …the floor is fast filling with “my” things. Our God is the Table Turner, the Cup Tipper. (Jeremiah 48:11)

LOrd, help me stand clear and let Your  shaking do its work, less I grow small and satisfied.

Please let it be so.

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going home

Going home always puts me in a tailspin. God shows me things when I am there that I need to have here. God shows me things when I am there that need to stay there. Sometimes discerning which is which is hard. The miasma of such is upon me. I gained some things…some insight, some understanding…but that increase has not produced more clarity. I am groping to take it all in and be stretched without the skewing. The encounters with people, specific people who are also symbol to me, validated this new program of exercise and strength training. I hear God calling, “Come, come this way.” But it is a way not openly acknowledged in my present environs…though not entirely unknown, it seems unexplored and unfamiliar to many. But this way of perceiving, this angle of sight is necessary to who I am to be – to God’s dream for me.  I am so trying to find ear for this holy thing and the others concurrently…I often begin to despise what is already gained…in expectation of the next season. I have to be careful…I sense my Athenian nature arising in me…so I heed Paul’s warning about loving the new for its own sake and I will remember that the wise man brings forth out of his treasure old and new.

God, please help me miss nothing and lose nothing.

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What if…

As I get older…and I certainly qualify as older…I am learning more and more about what I don’t know. I have already swung the pendulum of “my” views on a myriad of non-salvific subjects…I think such is healthy…truth is held in flux. God is truth and the Word gives us the image that He is always in motion, moving about the earth. And truth is found in tension – the pull of opposing forces. Truth is not static!

I feel some coming counter swings..some “about faces”…I feel as if I am on a playground swing and have reached that point where the momentum of the force upward is slowing and my inner man can feel the shift about to come, the shift to reversal of the momentum. It’s a cool place, that moment of free float: suspension, temporary weightlessness.

Sometimes those swings bring one into sync with the perspective of one near us. But that is rare. Have you ever tried to swing in time with a friend?…It is hard to do so for even one rotation, much less hold the synchronicity.

So… I have to be okay with that divergence of perspective…it is okay…to be seeing from different angles… remembering that  soon…I will be seeing from another as well.

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chutes and ladders

In the last few days, the old game, “Chutes and Ladders,” has come to mind. It was simple; a game designed for 3-4 year olds, I think. You roll a die and move along a path. Along the path are, you guessed it, chutes descending and ladders ascending. If you land on a square so marked, you are exported down or up. Simple game.

Two of my favorite songs use the imagery of a ladder. In Nickelcreek’s “Reasons Why,” a ladder is compared to our presuppositions and consequential decisions which are many times propped against a wrong wall:  a wall that leads nowhere. In Brooke Fraser’s, “Hosea’s Wife,” people are compared to mere ladders, something used to support our  climb beyond them.  So ladders resonate with me…they are familiar metaphor.

But ladders are showing up for me again right now, in conversation, in dream.  And this time they are not paths to nowhere save our own ruin, they are the great machines they were first imagined to be: the quickened, shorten path to higher ground. A ladder compresses work in time. On a ladder, it still takes the same work to gain ground, but the work is completed in less time.

Climbing a ladder requires a few things: work: each step requires the lifting of one’s own weight, trust: man wasn’t crafted for flight…air doesn’t well support us, and balance: without some of this stuff a quick assent can easily become a quick descent. And ladder climbing requires a purposefulness. You don’t just accidently climb a ladder.

But ladders have come to be, at least in my understanding of late, an important area to give pause, even thought. What if in life, as in that simple, simple game, ladders are postioned all along the path before us?  What if they are avenues to ascend, more quickly, to redeem time.

The question must then be begged, do I even recognize ladders when I come upon them? Some ladder designs of late, as you have no doubt like me, seen on t.v., are queer, un-ladder-like. What if the ladder looks unconventional, maybe even like a machine of death? Will we yet recognize and employ it for its designed purpose – to raise us?

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