Tag Archives: Enneagram

When It’s Just Too Hard to Talk to the Other Side

she likes itI know. I know I know. I’m the cheerleader for conversation among people who have differences of opinion. Mostly I talk about religion – how Christians of various stripes can come together and learn to respect one another’s differences. Lately I’ve been convinced that this is the same process that can help us bridge out political divides as well.   

But I’ll be honest. Right now it’s just too hard. These past six months have been so wearing, so discouraging, so maddening. Yes, this week I’m encouraged by the defeat of the latest version of “get rid of Obamacare.” But oh what it took to get there. Only three brave Republicans stood up for what I am sure many more knew what was right. The whining of Mitch McConnell after the vote only served to highlight the lunacy of what politics has become. No, it didn’t start with #45. But we have certainly sunk to unprecedented depths since he took office. Add to this dis-ease the ranks of evangelical Christians who have bought into this madness. 

So no, I’m not inclined to talk with “the other side.” I’m too angry. I know there are good people over there, but I’m afraid I just can’t listen to them right now with any kind of charity. This may be an indictment of my own spiritual malaise,  but I believe in full disclosure. For me, the primary goal of life right now is spiritual. 

Every day I get a thought for the Day based on my Enneagram type from the Enneagram Institute. Here’s yesterday’s:
What would happen if you expressed your Virtue of Serenity today?

How would you think, feel, and behave?

So here’s my answer:

  1. I will acknowledge my anger. Too many people have told me throughout my life, “Now, Susan, don’t be angry.” I refuse to “eat” my anger and silently accept bad behavior. It’s not good for my emotional or physical health. Having said that, I will also try not to act on that anger inappropriately. When I am with someone with whom I disagree, I will be respectful while speaking my own truth.
  2. I will cut myself some slack. If I’m not ready to dialogue, then I’m not ready. This is an important learning for me as I seek to encourage others. I remain committed to dialogue when I am ready, however I acknowledge that we all may need to take a break at one time or another.
  3. I will keep up the Resistance. This is a great channeler of righteous anger. And I’m overjoyed to hear of the impact that grassroots organizing and protesting is having.
  4. I will limit my exposure to the unending news cycle. I read and watch enough to know what’s happening from trusted sources and stay away from endless commentary. And I will look for and celebrate good news. It is out there. Good people doing good things. This makes me happy.
  5. And the most important thing of all: I will continue to maintain and nourish my spiritual practice. It may seem counter-intuitive that deep breathing and silent meditation can inform how I respond to the dysfunctionality all around me. It may seem to be an escape from it all, but it is not. It’s the ground from which my way of being in the world springs. When I realize that my anger is getting the best of me, when I’m  not able to feel charitable toward those with whom I disagree, I know it’s time to retreat for a while into sacred space. I discovered the week after the election that the peace I found in my practice was what gave me the ability to face the new reality that had been unleashed. So I must contiunue to seek the serenity that I can find there.

Now I know that I have the luxury of serving a congregation that is deep blue. I have friends and colleagues who are in what are now called “purple churches” and they have to remain in relationship with people of varying opinions and beliefs. But I think my advice would be the same. 

The time will come when we’re able to talk. If that time is not today, that’s OK, too.

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Enneagram Types and the INTRAfaith Conversation

1483423938742Do congregations have Enneagram types? My friend who leads workshops on the Enneagram, thinks so and has helped two of the congregations I’ve served to determine their number. Lately I’ve been wondering whether different religions also have different Enneagram types. What got me thinking was a friend who is a Religious Scientist (not a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist) and a Seven on the Enneagram. Listening to her one day, I realized how compatible her theology was with her personality. Then I had the stunning revelation that the same could be said about me as a Lutheran One.

So I went looking to see if anyone had done any work in this area. The best I could find  (at least in a pretty quick search) was an article about a book called Travels In Consciousness by David Hey. It confirmed my thoughts about me as a Reformer One and my friend as a Positive-Thinking Seven. I have to do more thinking about some of the others.

Then I also started to wonder about how these insights might be useful to us in our interfaith relationships. If Islam mirrors the Type Four (Idealist or Romantic) personality and Judaism is akin to Type Six  the Questioner or Skeptic) and Karma Yoga from the Hindu tradition reflects Type Three (the Doer, Achiever or Performer) and Buddhism reflects Type Five (the Sage or Observer), how do these personalities interact?

I also wonder how this relates to our intrafaith relationships. What do the diverse Enneagram types in our congregations bring to the conversation? How might a One and a Seven view such things as grace, salvation, social justice, etc. differently?

Of course where one is on the continuum of integration and disintegration is a factor. When I’m at my perfectionistic, sarcastic worst is not the same as when I’m in my healthy range. And the same is true for all of us.

It’s an interesting rabbit hole to dive into today – gets me away from politics for a little while. Although I do believe that we as a country are dealing with an unhealthy Eight (but that’s a subject for another day).