Questions from March
1. How do you embrace your Three-ness? I HATE that I'm a Three, but there's no denying it. -- @erinorr
Erin! Why do you hate being a Three? Can I just read to you some quotes about Threess from respected Enneagram sources?
"They are the "stars" of human nature, and people often look up to them because of their graciousness and personal accomplishment."
"Healthy Threes embody the best in a culture, and others are able to see their hopes and dreams mirrored in them."
"Threes act as living “role models” and paragons because of their extraordinary embodiment of socially valued qualities."
Look, Erin, when we are healthy, we're humanity's greatest achievement!
Okay real talk: I get that it can sometimes feel shameful to be a Three. We're in the Heart Triad and we are literally driven by shame. Some of the shame I experience as a Three stems from the fact that I could be loved for who I am (which, on dark days, I would tell you isn't anyone) instead of what I do. Spiritually, this is the great tension between me and God, so it's no surprise that this plays out in my relationships. One of the hardest things about the Enneagram is that it exposes your pain, your fears, and your weaknesses. I would argue that is difficult for all or most types, but more so for a Three, who desperately wants to maintain an illusion of success (no pain, no fear, and no weakness).
Something that has really helped me embrace being a Three on rough days are the words of Fr. Richard Rohr. I'm just going to quote him here because it's that good: "Threes think it’s up to them to keep things from falling apart. “I will prove by competence and overproduction that I will not fall apart,” they say, instead of resting in the impermanence and fallibility that they deeply know and now deeply fear. They are afraid to look inside themselves because they feel there is really nothing there. Threes need endless successes and feedback to reassure themselves against a very honest and realistic insecurity. They are afraid to say yes and cooperate with the dissolution and death of all things unless they reconnect with the permanence and endurance of reality, which is precisely a God-experience, whether they call it that or not. Threes who have found their way to truthfulness and authenticity can put their tremendous gifts to work to help other people competently and effectively, motivating them to discover their own potential. Redeemed Threes manage to organize groups or communities sensibly, expose society’s lies for what they are, and spread the truth in a way that is professional, efficient, and up-to-date. Their sin has now become their gift."
The greatest gift the Enneagram has given me are handles for how to love people better, and honestly, that includes myself. Being a Three isn't so bad or at least it isn't any worse than any other number. We're all broken and we all have our pros and cons. Also, follow some good Enneagram accounts to remind you of why 3s are great (and you know...other numbers too).
2. Top tips for being married to an Enneagram 3! -- @hugsandlattes
These apply to really being friends with a Three, working with a Three, or being in a relationship with a Three.
- Please never interrupt us when we're working.
- Help us release our emotions by watching or listening to joy-tinged things that make us cry-purge (My top choices are Queer Eye, anything Mr. Rogers, and Chef's Table)
- Give us positive feedback about the work we do and positive feedback about just us as people unrelated to our work.
- We don't know what to do with negative or sad emotions, so...just know that. I won't speak for all Threes, but I tend to power through sadness or hard times, almost fast-forwarding.
- Tell us you're proud of us.
- If you notice us being "lazy" -- let it be. Sometimes we get tired and rest is good for us.
- Give us a place where we don't have to be "on."
3. Are you going to write more devotionals?!?! -- @red3188
I am! I'm in brainstorming mode for the next one, so if you have topic ideas or thoughts, you can always reply to this email and get me directly. There will also be a little survey at the end of Lent that will let you give feedback about O Heavy Lightness and what you want to see next!
4. My kids hate going to church. How do I solve this? -- redacted
It's hard for me to answer this question without knowing all the details and it's tricky because it's easy for this to feel like a kind of spiritual failure on your part. I reject that. I think most kids go through not wanting to go to church at one time or another. And it's great that you're raising kids who are independent. You don't want your kids to fake loving church for your sake. If your kids have any kind of trauma related to attending church, then I would not make them go. If they are just kids and they'd rather be sleeping (which, look, I get), here is what (I think) I would do (please know that I've never experienced this as a parent, and these are just ideas. Should I ever cross this road myself, I may regret every single one of these thoughts):
a. Never force participation, just attendance. Basically: "you're welcome to sit here with your arms crossed and not pay attention, but you do have to come. You can't dictate what the whole family will do."
b. Offer alternatives. If they don't like a particular church, but would like to go to another one, I'd offer that up on a monthly basis, or let them attend that church's Wednesday night services.
c. Try to get them involved on other days of the week. If there's a service project day or a Thursday night supper, try making connections there, so they'll feel more a part on Sunday.
d. Take a break. Try taking a Sunday off as a family once a month and doing something together. Even if it's as simple as listening to a sermon podcast over pancakes, reading a book together, or going on a family hike. I think being a part of a local church is important, but there are other ways to engage your kids with God.
e. Ask and listen. "Why don't you want to go to church? "What would you rather do?" It doesn't mean you to have to do what they say, but you might be surprised at their answers.
f. Get them involved with an aspect that interests them. Your kid might hate going to church, but maybe he'd be more interested if he got to play bass in the worship band? Maybe they would feel more at home in the nursery with the babies?
Again: just ideas!