So y'all, I know I am late to the game, but I have been digging into this Enneagram thing. It is fascinating! I *think* I have learned what I am. For some reason I am having a hard time nailing it down. Regardless, this book I am reading (that a dear friend lent to me) really unpacks what it looks like to function out of the motivations of these 9 different personality types. So I'm bopping along reading who I think I am, based on a test I took (and some process of elimination), nodding along...agreeing with some things....then, I stumble upon something less than flattering about this personality type; it kind of makes me go "ew". Kind of make me want to say, "nope no way I am this type of person". The reality is that the "ew" really comes from the fact that I know I have functioned out of these motivations; I have functioned out of drivers that are selfish or prideful or lead to sinful behavior. These things typed on these pages are things I want to just push aside and ignore. So my pride hurts a bit, well gets a nice blow, when I come to terms with things that are not so glamorous about myself. When I come to terms with things deep down that I know I need to work on, I have a tendency to tuck them away or, dare I say, justify or minimize them. Instead, these are the very things I need to bring to the feet of the One who created me and knows me best, and things I need to be vulnerable about with those He has surrounded me with.
I am not walking alone here in these areas of me that may make me shutter; that I know for a fact. Sometimes, though, through lies I allow myself to believe, it feels that way. It's because we put up these walls...walls that keep it all tucked away behind a facade...and it's due to shame. Shame is that feeling I felt when my mind went "ew" at those characteristics that very much define some of my life; some (praise God) are past, and some (God help me) linger in the present.
I started this blog post a week or so ago due to a conversation with my sister, actually. Her vulnerability in a moment was actually encouraging to me. It probably didn't feel like a shining moment for her. It was raw and real, and that was actually exactly what she needed, and the Lord used it for me to see more clearly...to see more clearly how incredible it is when we open up and really live life with others. How we can speak truth with love and support and lift one another up when we know where our real strength lies. How incredible it is when we see Jesus working in those moments of weakness. How He uses those to point each other back to Him and our need for Him.
Then the Lord laid it on thick: shortly after that conversation, I was lent that Enneagram book that caused me to squirm, and I listened to a podcast that was about shame keeping people from being vulnerable. AND THEN, because I can be thick-sculled and the Lord really needed to make a point, I am listening to a sermon on the book of Acts by Matt Chandler, and he goes into this quote (and I am paraphrasing from my notes):
When we are clothed by the power of the Holy Spirit, it drives out any fear or doubt or any sort of "I need to look cool", "I need to be acceptable", "I need to look like I'm all together". It is a melting away of all of that, under the euphoria of knowing that we are loved, forgiven and blood-bought by God Almighty.
Oh man. I am over here like OK I GET IT! God wants me to abandon any fear or tendency to hold back or desire to appear a certain way - of having it all together - and He wants me to STOP pushing down the "ew" things. He wants me to be my whole self at His feet and living raw among others who are pursuing Him, too.
Can I just pause and look at ALL the things the Lord put in front of me to make this point; those things don't just happen. The fact that I was surrounded by this topic and it stirred my heart so deeply, isn't coincidence. The fact that He came at that same topic through so many different ways in my life, in such a short span of time was to get my attention. Him getting my attention, causing me to stop and think about how I am living as a Christian, well these are evidences that my gracious God isn't done with me. His work in me isn't done. I am not who He has plans for me to be...yet. He is still molding me into the image of Christ. He isn't giving up...He's making me uncomfortable so that I MOVE with conviction toward Him. He is giving me strength to move away from my flesh tendencies and toward fullness of joy. This is evidence of His undeniable, inexhaustible, reckless love for me.
I have felt conviction to bring my messy and needy self to God; sometimes, I believe the lie that something is too trivial or small for prayer, to lift up...that I need to not bring the small things to Him. The truth of the matter is nothing is too small or big for God.
There is something so beautiful, like tearfully beautiful, when we just fall to our knees in complete raw vulnerability at the feet of Jesus. With all of it. Every piece of imperfection and cringe-worthy inch of our being.
"I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground"
Hillsong UNITED, Touch the Sky
In falling, it lifts us. It fills us. He knows the ache already, but, when we truly take that off of our back, and lay it down, He can be the way through that ache - the way He is supposed to be. Instead, we take our inadequacies and bury them. Or we find a secluded and quite way to muster up strength through it: Read a book about it, or my good friend Google always has aggregated ways to cope, or ways to be better. We do all this instead of going to the One who can give us infallible strength and wisdom to move forward. We try our own strength out of pride, but friend, that river runs dry after a period of time. That river is not endless, but I know One that is eternal.
When we turn to that eternal river, there is overflow...always and without exception. When we fill our hearts with Him, we can then bring Him into our relationships. We can move with a vulnerability because we are clothed with the Holy Spirit and it breaks down the facades.
Did you know your neighbors, coworkers, friends and family are struggling with life, relationships, sin and emotions, too? (the answer is obvious, but sometimes we act as though we don't know this). Some struggle with the same, some similar, and some unexpected and completely different trials and issues than yours. God has put you where you are, in front of those you are in front of, next door to and in the office next to you for a reason. And He has equipped you and them in ways you may not even be aware of. In ways that can truly support and serve each other by speaking truth into similar, different and unique seasons.
Why would we hold it in? We are surrounded with exactly what we need right now. We just so often ignore it.
And He wants to restore us...Let Him. Let others in. Find one or two friends who know the Lord and just be real. Be raw. The reward is far greater than the price to take down that wall.