You have yet to be introduced to my son, Caleb. He is a junior now at Texas A&M. He is a loving and caring big brother to his three younger, crazy sisters and a sweet and obedient son. He is also a very caring and devoted friend. He has taken several Enneagram assessments and is leaning towards being a TWO, but there are aspects about other numbers that he fully operates in as well. However, I will blog about the revelations about himself over the past year that has led to his own one-eighty!
Caleb has always been an amazing big brother! He became a big brother almost at age 3 and has loved and devoted himself to his sisters since their births. I remember a time that Hailey was about nine-months old. She was the adventurous one. Always crawling around and getting into things that she shouldn’t. This particular day, she had crawled up onto the couch and was about to be on the top of the couch. This worried her big brother, who ran across the house yelling, “No, Hailey [which was pronounced Hayye]! You will fall from there!” But in the process of running to her, Caleb trips over something on the living room floor and falls down. She did nothing more than turn around, look at him and then went back to climbing. Unfazed by his own fall, he gets right back up and continues to help protect his little sister.
That’s Caleb! He puts aside his own needs and welfare for the help and safety of others. These are very much TWO qualities. However this help and “selfless” caring came to very unhealthy levels later in life. Caleb began dating a girl when he was about 15. Being only a sophomore, we figured that it would be short lived not, realizing how loyal Caleb can be. But after four years, we could all see that Caleb wasn’t himself. He seemed more secretive, wouldn’t come over to the house if he was with her, and seemed depressed. Any parent of a teenager would worry about drinking and going too far physically with a girl, but we felt that those things were not the issue. Hailey clearly did not like this girl and did little to hide her opinion which further drove a wedge between his once-close relationship with his sister. At the time, Caleb was halfway through his sophomore year at A&M but would still come home every other weekend. He would visit us on Friday nights and then we wouldn’t really see him the rest of the weekend because he would stay at his grandparents house. When we would see them together, she would constantly talk to him about her current crazy idea to make money. He would just listen quietly and nod his head. But never seemed to engage more than that. It’s hard to explain how this highly introverted teenager seemed even more introverted. Hailey and I tried to talk to him a few times about the fact that we felt like she wasn’t right for him. He would listen respectfully and then disagree and justify her behavior.
It all came to a breaking point when I finally called him one Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I felt like the Holy Spirit was giving me words to say and felt that I needed to be completely vulnerable with Caleb. I talked to him about the fact that she was building a wall around their relationship that kept out his family that he had always been close to. I said that when I prayed and envisioned a wife for him, I saw someone who was welcomed into our family and someone that shared his strong faith and convictions. Not someone he had to pull along and that leaned on his faith more than developing her own. I told him about my own life journey of marrying young to someone I thought I could “save” but that it never works out like that. He listened and offered some justification but I could tell that it was affecting him more than our other earlier talks.
“What if I don’t break up with her? What will happen to my relationship with the family?” He asked towards the end of the phone call.
“Well, then it will be up to each family member to decide if they want to reach out and have a relationship with her. And it will be up to her to build a relationship with the family. If that doesn’t happen then unfortunately you may have to decide between her and the family,” I said sternly but with a hint of sadness. “I suggest you talk to some mature people you trust about this and ask them for advice and prayer.”
“Okay. Thank you for sharing your heart,” he said as we closed the hour-long conversation, probably the longest I had ever talked to him since he had been at A&M.
And over the next couple of days, Caleb did just that. He spent hours talking and praying with his grandparents, his old counselor, and a leader at his college church. My mother-in-law came over the next day and shared some of the encounters she had had with him. He was crying out to the Lord and honestly, vulnerably seeking His will. I was so touched at how quickly things were changing! By Friday of the same week, Caleb called me at night in tears and almost in a panic saying he had broken up with her. I won’t go into all the details but a few. He said, “Mom, I need to be honest about something.” I braced myself knowing that a teenager coming clean could very well rock my world!
“Okay,” I replied in a shaky voice.
“For awhile now, I had to tell her that I was driving in on Saturday morning so that I could see you guys Friday night without her getting upset. I would say that I had something in College Station Friday nights but I really just wanted to spend time with the family and I knew she would get upset.”
Oh, my little mommy heart just broke for what he had given up to stay with her. This seems like a small deal, but I knew that Caleb hated lying to her and hated lying to us about how much he had endured to be with her. Then, over the next couple of weeks God truly came in and broke down things that should be broken and restored the things that needed to be restored. Caleb opened up about a lot of unhealthy things like perfectionism, ignoring problems, and the extent of his unhealthy attachment to his ex-girlfriend for over four years.
This is where the Enneagram comes in and what Caleb had discovered. If he is a TWO, then TWOS have a strong desire to help and save a person in a relationship. He became her savior, always denying his own needs and desires to please her. And if he was her savior, then there was no room for God to be her Savior. He also felt that he couldn’t share his passions and interests in order to not appear selfish. So Caleb would always defer to what she wanted. Even to the point of having to lie and manipulate to do what he wanted to do. He worked through reconciliation with his sisters and his father and I by asking for forgiveness. God met him at his place of hurt and brokenness and started to heal his broken heart.
Caleb also discovered a trend in his relationships. He often sought after people he could save. He felt like that was all he could bring to the relationship. This created unhealthy cycles of denying his own needs in order to be fully there for the other person whether it was his girlfriend or other friends. Caleb made the statement soon after that he felt like a weight had been lifted off of him. Knowing that he tended to engage in this cycle, he started to reach out and more fully engage in healthy relationships at A&M. He had been involved in many church organizations before but coming home every other weekend hindered being fully involved. What he found as he engaged in these friendships was that he could finally be himself. He could open up about things he was struggling with without feeling like they were going to fold underneath that struggle. He could have a give and take friendship based on mutual respect and they could both help each other. It is a life changing experience for a TWO to move into a healthy space of asking for help! Caleb was beginning to change and grow exponentially by releasing his need to save others and his need to appear perfect (which is a TWO wing ONE trait).
I am so proud of my son and the one-eighty that I have seen! He even went on his friend’s podcast to share about his novel that he is writing and the testimony about what God had done in his life over the past several months. You can listen here. The beginning is a bit slow, but he gets deep within a few minutes.
Caleb can still care and give to others out of a place of God pouring into him and can ask for help and prayer from his growing friendships. My introverted son is even taking a huge step by moving in with four other strong Christian guy friends come this fall! I know that God has more to do to heal his heart and strengthen him and I can’t wait to one day meet my future daughter-in-love. But for now, I am enjoying my open and honest talks with Caleb (he is my friend that I can talk for hours with about Enneagram stuff). I am truly amazed at what God did though me when I chose to be vulnerable and what God did in Caleb as he chose to trust in others and trust in God’s will for him!