From BARRIERS to INVITATIONS

“The enneagram helps us see beneath and through each of our type’s dominant barriers. Instead of running into them, and limping away bruised and confused, discernment help us see them as invitations. They become holy biddings to listen, sense, consider, tend, and engage.”

Q: What are your type’s barriers bidding you to consider?

Q: If we relax our defenses, what can we learn from these invitations?

The Enneagram’s Wisdom Triad

Gut Intelligence [GQ], Heart Intelligence [EQ], & Head Intelligence [IQ]

When making decisions, the enneagram’s Wisdom Triad provides 3 helpful questions:

  • What am I doing? – Our doing intelligence employs the intuition of our guts (GQ) to move us to action.
  • What am I thinking? – Our thinking intelligence employs the cognition of our brains (IQ) and is used for retrieving, organizing, planning, and analyzing. 
  • What am I feeling? – Our feeling intelligence employs the use of our hearts (EQ) and is used for observing and understanding emotions in ourselves and others. It’s relational and interpersonal. 

We cultivate wisdom to make good and healthy decisions when we steward all three: our thoughts, feelings, and actions aligned and deployed in discernment.

Pay attention to all three; each has important insight.

The Enneagram’s 3 Dominant Emotions as Barriers to Discernment

The Enneagram’s 3 Dominant Emotions as Barriers to Discernment

  • ANGER impedes the Gut Triad (Types 8,9,1)
  • SHAME impedes the Heart Triad (Types 2,3,4)
  • FEAR impedes the Head Triad (Types 5,6,7)

In unhealthy states of anger, cognition decreases, & anxiety increases.- In states of shame, confidence in oneself decreases, & anxiety increases.- In states of fear, our energy is depleted, & anxiety increases. See the pattern? While we all experience anger, shame, and fear, our Type tends to resort to one that’s ‘dominant.’ Our default responses to stress result in this dominant emotion significantly impeding our ability to make wise decisions. We keep running into them, and too often walk away limping and bruised. With awareness and intention, the enneagram helps us see how these barriers can become INVITATIONS. More on this in future posts. Stay tuned!

The Vocation Triad

  • IDENTITY – Who am I? 
  • PURPOSE –  Why am I here? 
  • DIRECTION – Where am I going? 

If your dominant enneagram type is the trailhead toward a more authentic self, the journey traverses the “Vocation Triad.” In this triad, we encounter the expanse of identity, purpose, and direction. 

The Way of Discernment starts here. The honest exploration of identity, purpose, and direction sets healthy trajectories for wisdom to flourish in our lives. 

All three help us discern our lives well. When faced with a difficult or challenging decision, return to these three questions. #enneagram #discernment #enneagramofdiscernment #wisdom. 

Living In-Between

Guest post by twentysomething Malaina Yoder

background-calm-clouds-747964I graduated from college in May, walking out of school and directly into plans of finding a job, moving to the city, and settling into The Millennial Life Adventure that bared a curious resemblance to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Instead, I remained on my couch searching job boards, eating junk food, and hoping one of my forty-some applications would get an email back.

For me, post-grad life has been a nebulous, drifting experience. It’s not so much a question of what I want to do but if anyone will let me do it. In addition, I moved back to my small hometown, away from my core community.  There, I couldn’t distract myself with busyness when there was no one to be busy with.

Of course, I have incredibly generous parents who let me crash at their house and eat their food and steal their toilet paper, so the boredom problem I’m describing is painfully first world. Even so, I found it to be profoundly frustrating. The boredom of the in-between period, however,  ended up freeing me from a pattern I didn’t realize I was trapped in.

This summer after graduation was easily dubbed “the summer of weddings” as my entire Christian college class got married in unison. Here, I experienced the in-between dread for the first time. I saw friends who told war stories from their first jobs, proudly miserable as they one-up each other with the worst stories. Occasionally, someone would talk with sheepish relief about landing their dream job right out of college.

As someone whose life reads like one long to do list, it’s bizarre to avoid the question: “So, what are you doing now?” Inevitably, I force a smile with the dreaded words, “I’m still…” I’m still at home. I’m still looking for jobs. I’m still living at my parents’ home, draining their food, being unproductive.

I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t the only person at weddings who came up with a variation of the “I’m still…” answer. Self-deprecation and deflection covered the taint of shame in the hidden message of the numerous unemployed graduates: Nothing. We’re doing nothing.

“I’m still…” I hated the literalness of that phrase. In “I’m still…,” I’m without the option to “do” and am left alone with being. Like a true American, I tend to find my identity in my ability to work, to do, to produce–not in being still. Being still not only feels wasteful, it feels like I am actively cashing in my worth. That’s why I wasn’t expecting what happened next: this season of forced stillness brought freedom rather than shame.

The benefits of stillness are not news to me. I’ve heard this tune a million, trillion times. Sermons, books, and articles about rest have been a common part of my life, and I didn’t disagree with their premise. My concept of rest, though, was as a tool for productivity: you work better if you get more sleep and take a lunch break. In this transition, I discovered rest as an end in itself. Rest adds value to life, as does work.

It was hard to break the habit of busyness. Whether busy or bored, I discovered I’m horrible at resting and noticing the world around me. It’s difficult to experience something beautiful and keep experiencing it. My body resists stillness and beauty. When I encounter the exquisite, my body becomes restless instead of restful. Almost as if defending me from the quiet, my overactive brain reminds me of my to-do list, a worrisome conversation, or a chore I’m supposed to be doing. But, when the only item on my to-do list is to start the next episode of The Good Place, there isn’t anywhere for my brain to run. So, instead, I’ve been forced into stillness.

Here, in stillness, I’ve found myself entangled in now. Entering into the present is a grinding, halting experience but being in the present is divine. This summer my soul was mingling with wildflowers and dripping water and droning cicadas. And I’m practically drowning in the smell of Mom’s homemade applesauce.

I met someone this summer who, instead of asking me what I do, intentionally asked me what I liked to do. What a fantastic question. Instead of telling him about the walls I was slamming into, instead of defining myself based on my productivity, I told him what was giving me life. I told him about what I was reading, the neighborhood paths I was walking, the funny moments with my family.

I think that for me to embrace rest, I need more stillness language, more being language.  I have too few words and questions for the process of experiencing life. I need better “being” words, words that describe the immersive experience of those moments that are entirely beyond my comprehension. Poetry does that well. Conversation and life updates have the potential to do better.

As I look ahead to a season that will again be packed with frantic activity, I believe it’s this lesson of rest and of being that will add tremendous value to my life. Not rest as moments of “self-care” that equip productivity but rest that’s a part of living.  While I never would have asked for these undefined, unproductive months, I’m now filled with gratitude for the time of stillness.

A Few Things I Didn’t Expect: Post-Grad Life

A guest post by Sam Petersen 

There really isn’t a need for more advice on post-graduate life, but I’m going to share my thoughts anyway. Maybe there’s one person that can benefit from what I’ve learned. 🙂

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First, everyone was right when they said building your life takes longer than you thought. But they were also kind of wrong. The first six months after I graduated, I moved three different times due to circumstances out of my control. However, I found the church I weekly attend to this day within the first five weeks of being in Indy. It’s taken me about a year to find other areas, besides work and family, where I wanted to invest myself, but it only took me about two months to ramp and feel like I understood my job.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry during those two months, or a few times after that, but I didn’t feel like I was drowning in misunderstanding or the “What the heck am I doing here?” phase. Some things took a while. Other things didn’t. Timing isn’t something that can be easily planned, so I kind of had to go with it.

Second, I talk to significantly less people than I thought I would post-graduation. The time I spend with people outside my immediate circles is limited. However, that doesn’t mean people I graduated with aren’t still my friends. Even though I don’t keep everyone abreast of each thing that happens in my life, when I know they’re doing something cool or went through something tough or I have something big happen, I still reach out. I thought it would feel disingenuous to maintain some friendships on a once a month or every few month cadence, but sometimes that’s how it happens, and those friends can still mean the world to you.

Just because your friendship doesn’t look like it does when you were in college doesn’t mean those people aren’t still your people. Shauna Niequist has a great quote in her book Bittersweet (if any book represents what it means to graduate college, it’s this one). She says, “SAY SOMETHING. Always say something. Now when a friend loses a job or when a heart is broken or when the test results are bad, even when I don’t know what to say, I say something.” Something is better than nothing, even when it feels strange or different or hard at first.

Lastly for now, reading becomes fun again! I’ve still spent quite a few nights in front of my TV, watching my favorite shows because I don’t really want to think after coming home from work. But frankly, more and more, I’m turning off the TV in favor of the plethora of books I’ve always wanted to read, but have never had the time to crack. My fiancé recently bought me a collection of C.S. Lewis (many of which I haven’t read. I know, what kind of Taylor grad am I?), and I’m stoked to dive into writings that make me think in a way less called for in my day to day life.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but its few things that came to mind when I thought about what so many of you are about to experience. Lean into the tough times, because adult life is so very full if you let it become so. I believe in you, almost-college grads. I’m on your team.

Love, Sam

Sam Petersen is a twenty something recent college graduate living the good life in Indianapolis, IN. 

Transitioning

The following is a guest post by Chin Ai, a recent college graduate and friend reflecting on what her transition post-college has been like so far.

Transitioning is very much exactly where I am at during this season of my life.There’s no real stability and no real place or space to call my own, just yet.

train track

And this phase…this leaving one season and welcoming another is so very bittersweet (and quite awkward at times).

This season has also brought about new discoveries and new questions: who is Chin Ai back in her home country? what are the things that cause her to pause and ponder? what are some integral life lessons and self-awareness that she is integrating into her life back home in Malaysia? and what are some that she is leaving behind in the U.S.? (…yup, I’m very much referring to myself in the third person, ha.)

Transitioning is quite complicated, but it’s also quite beautiful in its intricacies, and for all that it brings, I’m utterly thankful. I’m listening to this podcast called The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman and its latest episode, Receive the Waiting Time, gently reminded me how this season of waiting, of planting a seed and the slow and formative work that’s being done to the seed in this time of waiting is so incredibly crucial for the seed to grow and bloom properly.

Transitioning…I guess, in a way, is also a time of waiting. Of waiting and surrendering, of resting with open hands and open heart, of allowing God to do what God needs to do and/or form within me, and of trusting that this seed is a good and right seed, called by God to be planted and to be nurtured by God.

seeds growing

Instead of trying to fight the transitioning, I’m trying to embrace it better, receiving each moment at its own time, and being absolutely thankful for my Abba who walks with me through it all.

Chin Ai is from Malaysia and recently graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana with a BA degree in Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE). Post-college she has been interning at Teach For Malaysia with their Partnership Development-Public Sector team until she begins her two year Teach For Malaysia Fellowship in January.

The Art of Saying Goodbye in a Culture of See You Later

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[It’s college graduation season; a series of opportunities to say goodbye to the people and places that have been meaningful to the college experience. But it’s not easy. We recently put together a video blessing for college graduates, and today we have an essay penned by Jess that should be required reading for anyone experiencing significant change in life. Enjoy!] 

I remember towards the end of a semester long study abroad trip in college when I read the beginning of John 13. Not the well-read section on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet but the very first verse that introduces why Jesus washes their feet.

In the ESV John 13:1 reads, ‘Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.’ And in the NIV the last part reads, ‘he now showed them the full extent of his love.’

My time abroad was ending and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. My default was and had always been to withdraw when I knew I was going to have to say goodbye. I would stop investing and start self-protecting in order to minimize the impending hurt and loss. I would retreat. Yet, here this one verse was challenging me to approach goodbyes differently. In this passage, Jesus was doing the opposite. Knowing he was getting ready to leave, he was pouring even more of himself into those he loved. I was blown away.

After that trip, I went on to graduate study and work in academia. What no one ever told me as I prepared for a career on college campuses is that goodbyes are integral to the work. Every August you welcome a new group of college freshman onto campus, invest in them over the next 4ish years, and then watch them leave. Rinse and repeat. They are never meant to stay. Specifically, my previous work in the Calling and Career Office at my institution was entirely focused on helping

students discover and develop their gifts and talents in ways that prepare them for life after college.

Each day I am keenly aware that to do my job well means that I am investing in them so they will be prepared to leave and live well.

Several years ago, I became a licensed foster parent and I remember the first time I had to say goodbye. My first placement had been three little girls who had been living in my home for almost two months. As much as we had talked about the transition in the days leading up to the move, when it came time to say goodbye they didn’t really understand. All they wanted to know was why they weren’t going to be staying with me anymore. As a foster parent I know from the day I welcome a child into my home, I will almost always have to say goodbye. But knowing that doesn’t make it easier.

And as I stood and said goodbye to those little girls, in my heart I questioned whether it was really worth it to follow Jesus’ example and to invest until the very end. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to withdraw and protect my heart. I wanted to invest less so it didn’t hurt so much. I wanted to say ‘see you later’ rather than ‘goodbye.’ But I knew I likely wouldn’t see them again and what they needed from me was an honest goodbye. Empty promises that I would see them again would not help them fully engage and settle into their new family.

In these and many other experiences, I have often wished someone would have taught me how to say goodbye well when I was growing up. Instead one of two things usually happened. Either I couldn’t wait to say goodbye and good riddance to an experience or person or I held on for dear life to what I was losing. Both negatively impacted my next experience or relationship.

In the church we rarely, if ever, talk about saying goodbye unless we are at a funeral. The reality though is that goodbyes are a part of our lives long before we get to a funeral. Our lives are full of comings and goings, transitions—the changing of seasons, both in nature and in our lives and hearts. Different seasons, with different people, roles and responsibilities.

And the more I encounter these different seasons and roles and relationships in my work and life, the more I am convinced that our inability to say goodbye well, is paralyzing us (me) from living fully into the abundant John 10:10 life that God desires for us.

And so, I find myself at the end of another academic year preparing to say goodbye yet again (maybe you do as well).

So what have I learned about saying goodbye that I wish we talked about more (and that we and our students practiced) in this season?

  1. We are meant to live and invest fully until the very last day. Withdrawing or checking out early from a relationship or experience before the end may feel easier in the moment, but it doesn’t help us say goodbye well.
  2. It is better (if at all possible) to leave with no regrets. This is where it can be easier to avoid hard conversations because you know you’re leaving soon and it doesn’t feel worth it. If it is healthy and safe for you—have the hard conversation.
  3. Take time to grieve what you are losing. We live in a culture that rarely likes to name emotion or slow down long enough to reflect. But to leave well we have to do both. Name what you are losing and give yourself permission and time to grieve it.
  4. Extend extra grace to yourself and others as each person says goodbye and grieves differently. If it is a group experience like college or a trip—where there is a group of people all grieving the same loss at the same time, this step is critical. Emotions are high, sleep and self-care are usually lacking and a little extra grace can go a long way in helping you not leave with regrets.
  5. And finally: when the time comes there is a need to actually say goodbye, not see you later.

Goodbyes are complex. Some we have been waiting to say from day one, others we have been dreading. Some are expected, and others are sudden. There is the loss of children, homes, communities, family members and certain life stages. Goodbyes carry emotions and memories of shared experiences, relationships and life lived with others in community that we don’t want to lose or admit are changing.

But goodbyes also give us the opportunity to genuinely thank those who have made an impact on our lives in a particular season. I’m not often a note person— but in seasons of goodbyes—I’ve found it to be helpful both for myself and others to have something tangible to mark the goodbye. Goodbyes allow us to reflect on what we’ve learned in a particular season or from a particular person. They allow us to stop poor habits or start afresh in new places with new people.

And so, I think we need to talk and practice the art of saying goodbye. I think to learn to leave well is to learn to live well (And I’m not above some chocolate, coffee or a nap after a hard goodbye either).

Jess Fankhauser is co-author of READY or NOT: Leaning into Life in Our Twenties. She is assistant director of athletics at Taylor University, and is licensed foster parent. 

A Blessing for College Graduates

It’s college graduation season, a time full of hope, expectation, and anxiety. I gathered some friends to bless all of you walking across that stage this year. Be encouraged, and share with others.

A Blessing for College Graduates. 

May your post-college life excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.

May this season challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.

May this next chapter fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.

Remember to be kind
To those who work with you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.

Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.

May you come to know that your responsibilities
Which emerge from the mind of love
Will have beauty and form.

May this time be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.

May your new roles assume
proper spaces in your life;
Instead of owning or using you,
May they challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.

[Adapted from John O’Donohue, “Blessings for a New Position,” To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (2008)]