what a privilege it is to love

I was called a nerd in staff meeting yesterday.  It was a term of endearment (I think) because of my love (obsession) for the Enneagram.  I was giving an update about the Enneagram workshop I had done with my Youth Leaders on Sunday afternoon.  Let’s be honest here, I was gushing about it. Because I love the Enneagram.

I first took the Enneagram in 2012 as a piece of a cohort I was a part of in Seminary.  I liked the insights but if I’m honest, I didn’t fully understand what it meant for me.  We went through it as a group but didn’t quite have a grasp on the reality of what it was revealing about ourselves and each other.  It’s come up a few times in the years since and each time I am amazed at how much it explains who I am and why I do the things I do. But it was kind of just an acceptance that this “Personality test” had me pegged and I would move on.  

In the last year I’ve dug more deeply into it through the help of an amazing life coach we are utilizing at church to teach and develop our leaders with the Enneagram.  She has stretched me and pushed me towards growth through my Enneagram type. Through this process each staff member was given a 30 minute coaching session with her to talk about our results.  Since I already knew my number, my coaching session focused on creating a growth plan for myself. After a long bit of rambling around the topics that were currently causing me distress or disunity in my life, she asked some clarifying questions and then challenged me.

First though, a bit about who twos are.  Enneagram type 2s value love and nurture.  They are deeply relational and connected people.  They are emotionally charged and intuitive. A common phrase spoken about 2s is that they often know what others are feeling before the person knows it themself.   Chris Heuertz says that “2s are here to help us connect to our hearts.  They give us permission to explore our own hearts – they validate our connection with our emotional selves.”  

One of the areas where Enneagram Type 2s can struggle is in meeting and knowing their own needs.  It’s kind of a funny idea that they strive to meet the needs of others and yet are so clueless on their own needs and emotions.  My two friends and I often use the phrase “I have all the feelings, I’m just not sure why or what they are about.”
Twos can also have a hard time defining themselves authentically.  We often find ourselves defining our identity based off of who we are for other people.  Twos are capable of a lot of deeply intimate relationships because of their being so rooted in their feelings.

So much of my own identity has been wrapped up in who I am to others, but not just my relation to them, the type of relation I have to them.  I’m not just a youth pastor, I’m a relational youth pastor. I don’t see myself as a friend, I’m a confidante – someone you can rely on and trust with your junk.  I hold myself back from difficult situations and conversations because I’m afraid of how someone else will perceive me, especially if I feel like I’m letting them down.  
So that’s what our friend and life coach challenged me to – to take time and define myself outside of my relationships to others.  To spend time really searching my heart. Chris Heuertz echos that in his challenge to Twos, “I suggest that that’s consenting to solitude – That’s finding that time alone to explore the gifts of who you are when you are not giving yourself away because when you can know the truth about yourself, that’s when you can find all that it is you have to offer.  And there’s a lot there. Don’t cheat yourself and don’t cheat us.”

I love that Chris says, “Don’t cheat yourself and don’t cheat us.”  Because that’s what happens when a 2 doesn’t take care of themselves first – they cheat themselves of the ability love others well, which of course is what we want to do.  We are eager to love others by caring for them. But when we allow that to define ourselves, when we don’t turn that love inward first, we are cheating ourselves. And we end up cheating others because our loving kindness can become manipulative.  

In his podcast explanation of his song about the Enneagram 2, Ryan O’Neal of Sleeping at Last says, “Once the two steps away and gives the attention to themselves… it’s probably a difficult process and I imagine it being a really uncomfortable thing.”  He nailed it. It’s extremely uncomfortable, but it’s so necessary. And so I am learning to take the time outs from being a helper and turn that care inward. I am learning to define my own needs and then asking for help myself when I need it.
Self care is hard for a two.  But if we want to continue living into the relationships that give us so much life, we must learn not to depend on those relationships to define who we are.  

All quotes taken from The Sleeping at Last Podcast episode “Two” & the Enneagram.

For more reading on the Enneagram, check out books and podcasts by Ian Cron, Chris Heuertz (Linked above).  And keep checking back here, I’ll be writing more on my own journey with the Enneagram.

she wouldn’t dance with another

After a recent visit to a local record store, I thought it was time to revisit some of the records I’ve obtained from my dad’s collection.  When I moved into my first (solo) apartment and bought my first record player, I made my brother go through our dad’s records over the phone with me and set aside a group of them.  Mostly Beatles, a James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Four Seasons, a B.B. King and others that were nostalgic for me.  He boxed them up and sent them to me.

Tonight I sorted through them, put them in order and pulled out a couple to listen to while I cooked dinner and got myself ready for the week.  First a Haim record I bought myself right after I moved to MN.  Then the Joni Mitchell because I was curious about it.  Then my favorite Beatles album – A Hard Day’s Night (the movie soundtrack version).  And lastly, Meet the Beatles! (US Version).

As I lay on the floor and listen to John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing over me, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood.  So many evenings and weekends listening to these records with my dad.  Playing air guitar or drums, harmonizing and dancing around the coffee table.  Songs that shaped my early concepts of love – “This Boy,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and of course, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which I’m convinced began my obsession with holding hands.

Those late night jam sessions with my dad were everything to me.  I’m sure they drove my mom crazy, she was probably more concerned with getting my brother and I to bed at a decent hour.  But my dad would flip that album over, “just one more time.”  We’d get to that one rare song with George Harrison on lead vocals and sing out how we were “happy just to dance with you.”

Those early Beatles albums were full of hopeful love, romantic gestures promising “all my loving” and calling the girl “darling.”  Childhood Alicia only knew of that kind of love.  It was before my friends’ parents started getting divorced.  Before my own first heartbreak and all the ones that came after that.  Before my parents announced their separation and later divorce.

As we walked around that record store the other day, we talked about our top 10 albums.  What were the albums that lasted the test of time in our lives.  It’s hard to name any newer albums because who knows if they are going to continue to have that kind of impact on us.  Are they going to instantly transport me back to a season of life like these Beatles albums?  And what artists had a good few songs and which ones had albums you didn’t skip a single song?

So I listed off the first few that came to my mind.  Obviously A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles (although I mistakingly called it Can’t Buy Me Love and am tempted to text my friend to correct myself).  Then Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle which instantly takes me to that grey Jeep I first drove around after I got my freedom (aka my driver’s license).  Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers self entitled album was next – few have heard of it but the song “Such a Way” will always by my college anthem and young love aspiration.  I struggled coming up with just one Sara Bareilles album.  Or John Mayer – his albums got me through that awful first year of college (Heavier Things),  my parents’ divorce (Continuum) and my dad’s death (Battle Studies).  Not to mention driving around in my youth pastors’ car to get Starbucks (Room for Squares).

Music just has that effect on some people.  It’s filled with nostalgia and promise.  It shapes the way we see the world, the way we interpret the people and things around us.  Music can help us to voice feelings and emotions that seem impossible to understand.  It can make us feel connected to a bigger story with other characters.  Music has been a home for me in spaces and places where home has felt disjointed or distant.

Someday we can talk about the ways music has led me astray or molded my opinions and outlooks in not so healthy ways, but for now, it’s time to flip the record and listen just one last time.