For those of you who follow the enneagram, you might have heard of the album by Sleeping At Last where they wrote a song from the perspective of each number. I would highly recommend checking it out here. But something interesting happened for me as a TWO when I listened to the album. I loved all the songs, and cried listening to several, but on my first listen to the song for TWOS, my response was “meh.” It wasn’t that it wasn’t accurate, in fact I’ve probably said half the things in that song, (the “what a privilege to hold you up” really got me in the repeat listens). But the first time listening, I wasn’t that impressed. This was completely different from my reactions to the other songs.
With the song for ONES, I was screaming out that they do deserve grace and don’t need to do anything to earn it.
During the song for THREES, I vowed to show every THREE I met that they could be themselves and didn’t have to put on an act.
During the FOUR song, I began thinking of all the ways I could show them God’s beauty even in the mundane and tell them they are special.
When the FIVE song came on, I wanted to give them space to explore their minds while reminding them that there are people who love them with no expectations.
With the SIXES, I started to make a list to show them how trustworthy God is and that they can trust in him as their security.
I’m completely out of my element when it comes to SEVENS, but when their song came on I wanted so bad to be more extroverted and wild so that I could connect with them on their level then gradually show them the depth God wants for them.
Then the EIGHT song came on. I’m a guy so it’s a bit different, but there’s a reason that women TWOS often end up with guy EIGHTS. I was bawling my eyes out as I heard the story of the little child forced to put on armor and hold the door shut. I’m not a physical touch person, but I wanted to give every EIGHT I knew a giant hug and cry with them, although they would probably hate that.
And with the NINE song, I wanted to shake them awake and remind them of how powerful and amazing they are.
It’s the nature of TWOS to want to help, which is why we’re called the helper. We thrive on exploring and restoring those around us. But when it comes to understanding and growing ourselves, it’s too much work.
As someone with a strong wing ONE who loves to improve, this doesn’t make much sense. I’ve got a loud inner critic longing to improve myself, but ignore it in a desperate attempt to focus on others.
But here’s the truth that I have to remind myself constantly of: if I don’t bring up all the gunk and messiness within me and then give it to God, every single moment of me “helping” someone, will have residue of that gunk.
Here’s an illustration to highlight this. When I was little, I used to bake with my sister Hailey. She loved baking and designing but hated cleaning up with a passion. We worked well as a pair because she had the plan and was bossy, and I was an organized cleaner who could do what they’re told. Hailey is very much a SEVEN wing EIGHT. One time Hailey was baking with blue food coloring and spilled some of it. Now if she had cleaned it up immediately, it would have been no problem. But she didn’t and the little puddle of blue on the counter was suddenly everywhere. There was blue on the floor, blue in her hair, blue in the silverware drawer, blue in the living room, and even blue on the dog.
This is what happens when we don’t deal with things. This is a message for every number, but I want to speak specifically to TWOS. When I’m struggling with perfectionism, pride, anger, unforgiveness, or anything else, if I don’t deal with it and surrender those feeling to God, then every interaction I have, every help I try to give, will be tainted with those struggles, like blue food coloring.
Don’t just spend all your time focused on the other numbers and who you can help fix them, just like I was focused on all the other songs. I had to actually take time to work through my feelings and struggles, not as a victim, but in a way that shows how broken and messy I really am. I couldn’t stay there either because here’s the next step: I needed to surrender my perfection, my lack of vulnerability, my brokenness, my feelings of unworthiness, and all that is in between to God. Because He’s the only one who can “fix” me or anyone else. He’s the one who will patiently take the time to clean every trace of blue food coloring out of us. Then we really can love those around us without any strings attached.
Caleb Ward is an author, student at A&M, the producer of the Created Curious Podcast, youth leader, and an avid reader. Ever since he was a child, he loved to create worlds in his head, something he called imaginating, and is ecstatic about having others join him in those worlds. His new book “Downfall” will be out later this year.
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