The Beauty of Knowing Myself
Who am I? Why is it that people don’t understand me? Am I strange? How can I allow God to use me to minister to others? A couple of weeks ago, the divinity school had a retreat which addressed these questions. The theme for the retreat was “The Spirituality of the Enneagram.” I was encouraged to study the Enneagram this summer, and I discovered that I am a nine on the Enneagram, the peacemaker. I spent some time this summer understanding myself according to the Enneagram, but the retreat helped me realize that there are others who are similar to me. It also gave me the opportunity to understand the thought processes and decision making strategies of others who are not nines.
The good news is that I am not strange! Hooray! Maybe my family is strange because they don’t understand why I struggle with saying “no” or with speaking my opinions so that I don’t offend others. I tend to allow them to make the decisions, for I am usually fine with anything. It is suppose to be about others, right? The truth is that my family is not strange; they are just not nines. The facilitator of the retreat gave space for people in each category to share their way of thinking. I was able to hear what the norm is for people in other categories. Knowing this information helps me to not only understand others, but to minister to others. I can provide better pastoral care when I know that although I make decisions using my body (gut), Johnny uses his brain. Tasha decides with her heart. Although I may deny anger, Peter may confront it. Kathy may suppress anger. The way each person deals with life is not strange; it is just the natural way he or she processes and makes decisions.
So then, who am I? I am a woman who loves to have positive relationships with others. I am a woman who can easily empathize with others because I can understand their perspectives. I am a woman who loves when everyone is getting along and is at peace with each other. Thus, I am a woman who suppresses her voice and rarely says “no” to avoid potential conflicts. The retreat helped me to also realize the pitfall of being a nine and how I can overcome it. In order to be a healthy nine, I need to be a person in my own right. The facilitator of the retreat addressed each category and stated the gifts, rewards, and pitfalls for each. She also addressed strategies for how to be a healthy you in mind, body, and spirit.
The retreat was very rewarding. There were times when we laughed, played, ate, and cried with each other. We shared in each other’s gifts and struggles. We left the retreat having a better understanding of ourselves and each other thus creating strong connections. Additionally, I left the retreat knowing that I can be powerful by taking care of myself first so that I can care for others.
Angel Lee is a first year Divinity School student from Washington, D.C. who seeks to expand her knowledge of the Bible and Christ, and become equipped to teach the Gospel to all who will listen.