The Enneagram personality types are being talked about a lot lately. It seems to be the hot topic of personal growth. The types have been at the forefront of my mind since my church held a conference on The Enneagram a few months ago. My understanding is that the “Enneagram of Personality” was first coined by a Chilean psychiatrist and different religions have since adopted it within their own beliefs. For my husband and myself, we have never had anything so accurately and deeply detail out who we each are. Exploring our authentic selves(that which is a reflection of a particular aspect of God’s character) and our adapted selves (that which has adapted to living in our sinful and fallen world) has been informative and entertaining.
If you know anything about the Enneagram, I am a Type 1. One’s are described as perfectionists, high standards, “the good person”, integrity, hard-working, self-controlled, purposeful and our adapted self can be judgmental. While these are all words I would’ve used to describe myself, it’s also a little painful when reading that last word.
Much of the time growing up, I heard from family that I am too blunt, too judgmental, too condemning. I remember a few occasions of people being upset with me specifically for my strongly held values. For years, more than any other area of growth, I’ve thought about it, prayed about it, asked God to help me, and have tried hard within my own fallen human life to change that last word. I don’t want it to be a word that describes me. I want desperately for people around me to feel comfortable, relaxed and not judged.
Especially in our world today, it feels like being judgmental of anyone else and their life choices is one of the worst things you could do. A crowd will instantly dislike you when you show the slightest hint of intolerance. Which can make it hard to stand up for what is right.
I keep asking myself “what is the difference between judgment and conviction?” Judgment is the act of an opinion or decision judging right or wrong of someone else. Conviction is a strongly held personal belief of your own. The Enneagram Institute describes One’s as “people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.” What gets me into trouble is when my strongly held convictions move towards judgment of someone else who doesn’t hold the same convictions that I do.
This has been particularly interesting in my marriage to a man who is a Type 7. Seven’s are extroverted, playful, optimistic, spontaneous, constantly seeking new experiences and are red-tape pushers. Friends, let me just tell you plainly now, the disagreements between Strong-Convictions Girl and Red-Tape Pushing Guy are usually of the same theme: whether something is right or wrong to do. We have such different convictions and different ideas of right and wrong that at times I wonder how in the world we paired up. I’m definitely a “let’s find out the rules first” kind of lady and he’s more of a “let’s just do it and we’ll ask for forgiveness later if we find out that it was wrong” kind of man.
I have often told my husband that his red-tape pushing is the source of anxiety in my strict rule following world. This is exactly where I’ve had to be stretched, learn and practice what it means to have some vastly different convictions than someone else. Even someone I’m married to and partner up with to parent our four young children. It’s been a place of both of us needing to learn how to discuss decisions ahead of time, come up with a compromise between both of our extremes, and feel the stretching of our own distinct personalities while giving space for the other person. We both have convictions – they just aren’t always the same. I’ve had to learn that just because I personally feel convicted about something, it doesn’t mean it’s as black and white as it feels in my mind. It doesn’t mean that it is wrong, it means that I personally feel convicted about it one way or the other.
Convictions without judgment of others can be a wildly freeing and anxiety-filled place. In that place, these verses have been helpful to hold onto:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your hap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38
I’m not typically an anxiety-filled woman but I feel it rise when I am standing, holding my tongue, and watching my husband do something I personally feel a different conviction about. But there has been such freedom in keeping impulsive words back, not passing along judgment for my convictions, and letting my husband be who he is – the thrill seeker and adventurer. He has a good heart, smart mind, and is an excellent leader of our family. We are learning from each other: I’m learning from him how to just stop and play, and he’s learning from me how to play by the rules. That’s the deep beauty I’ve found in the freedom from keeping my convictions from being opposed on those around me and trusting the Lord to guide us both.
**If you want to learn more about the Enneagram types, look into The Enneagram Institute. For a wonderful Christian perspective on the types and how each type reflects different aspects of God’s character, a great read is the book “Self to Lose, Self to Find” by Marilyn Vancil.