With the beginning of a new year, I want to invite you to a unique journey to grow deeper in faith through the spiritual tool of the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality type discovery tool that has been used in a variety of circles to help people gain better awareness of their behavioral patterns and personality traits. This awareness is about learning about what helps us connect better with God and what hinders us. As children, we learn to cope with life in order to feel safe and to survive (emotionally and physical). As we grow into adulthood, our patterns of coping end up shaping who we are and often times end up getting in the way of our growth. While they keep us safe, our patterns also keep us boxed up in our emotional fears and triggers. Frederick Buechner once wrote that, “The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” By becoming aware of our internal strategies for survival, we can begin to release their hold on us to allow our souls, our true selves, to emerge into the world more freely and more openly to love and serve as God has intended us to be. In their book about the Enneagram The Road Back to You, Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile write, “The purpose of the Enneagram is to develop self-knowledge and learn how to recognize and dis-identify with the parts of our personalities that limit us so we can be reunited with our truest and best selves.”
The first time I learned about the Enneagram was when I had to go through a two-day intensive career counseling which the presbytery required all candidates to go through. They wanted to ensure that we were aware of our personal issues before entering into ministry. I dreaded the two days of personality tests and interviews with counselors. Yet, by the end of the program, I was grateful to find some very helpful tools for my life-long journey of transformation and of letting go of the things that hinder my ability to live as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ. I then revisited the Enneagram during my time in Oregon through several programs of The Sacred Art of Living Center. These opportunities deepened my appreciation for the Enneagram as a spiritual tool.
I invite you to join me on Sundays from January 6th to March 3rd for the “Inside Out: Knowing Ourselves” sermon series. I will focus each week on one of the nine personality types as represented in the Enneagram and through one of the biblical characters who represent the personality traits related to the Enneagram-type of the week. Please invite any of your family and friends to worship with us on those Sundays. There are many people in our lives who long for this kind of soulful living and this sermon series would be a great gift to them. But they will not know it unless you share it with them.
Blessings for the new year!
Pastor Roula Alkhouri