No, that is not a secret code of some sort. Then again, in a way, it kinda is. They are, actually, ways I identify in different personality typings. They are on my mind today because I have just spent the last 24 hours soaking up time with wonderful friends and we have been talking about all of our unique personalities. I had dinner Tuesday evening with two of my favorite friends in Nashville, Patsy and Gail. We talked for five hours and still needed more time. Long before dessert (and shortly after a bottle of wine) we were already sharing the deepest parts of our hearts and stories. Don’t you just love friends like that?
Eventually, the topic meandered its way to the Enneagram, which is one of the earliest personality-typing tools. I would love to write more about it (I’ve been known to get obsessive about a thing) but I better just suggest you Google it or find a book about it. I recommend “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” by Riso and Hudson. For the record, I am an Type 3 with a strong 2-wing. The deciphered code for that is – I want to be the best friend and person you’ve ever met and I have been known to shade and/or exaggerate the truth to get you to like me and respect me. “Deception” is the ugly word for the “sin” of the Type 3. The thing about the Enneagram that is equally wonderful and horrible is that the value is identifying your weaknesses more than celebrating your strengths. I’ve learned that accepting my shadow side brings more peace than attempting to hide it.
One thing Patsy said that really struck me between the lies…uh, I mean, the eyes…was “To others, our histories are not as much a mystery as they are to us.” After she dropped this bomb of profundity, she went on to explain that often our friends can see things in us that we aren’t (and would rather not be) aware of and don’t recognize in ourselves. Patsy, Gail and the Enneagram are all good friends that way.
Yesterday, I had lunch with six utterly unique and delightful girlfriends. Once we all arrived, I had everyone go around the table and, first, identify themselves with any popular personality-typing of their choice. Many of them shared their Enneagram number, some offered their Zodiac sign and a handful spouted their Myers-Briggs letters. This is another favorite of mine. As a matter of fact, in the last month, I’ve sent all of my family members and many of my friends a link to a quick 12-minute, surprisingly accurate online test. (www.16personalities.com)
I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun, but even more so, how helpful this has been for all of us. My two daughters, son-in-law, son, his girlfriend and my ex-husband have had some very enlightening conversations about our similarities and differences. I am an INFJ. Those letters stand for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. (Not as in judgmental, thankfully; a more accurate (and less judgmental descriptor :)) would be “decisive.”
Fascinatingly, INFJs make up only 1% of the population but “Intuitive Feelers” make up 90% of our family. (I’m guessing at the math. We aren’t known for bothering much with concrete concepts like numbers.) This may all sound like gobbledy-gook (if so, your second letter is probably an “S.” :))But, these 16 assortments of letters have really helped us appreciate our many shorthand points of connection and our nuanced areas of hard-to-relate differences.
This afternoon, I had a speaking event in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk from my last book, “Friendship for Grownups.” Fresh on the heels of my trip to Nashville saturating myself in the gift of girlfriends, it was easy to speak from my heart about the ways friendship has healed me, especially in these last eight years. It never ceases to amaze me how God uses both our strengths AND weaknesses to connect and encourage one another. And, how our similarities AND differences are equally important in the bigger picture of relationships.
As we sat around the table eating our lunch, yesterday, I asked each of my friends to share one area of their lives where they are experiencing excitement and one area that is causing anxiety. Oh my, such a deep exhale happens when we open our hearts in the company of friends and share honestly and deeply our fears and dreams. My answer to this inquiry was that I am feeling bubbling excitement about walking the Camino but I am experiencing gurgling anxiety about leaving my children for six weeks knowing they are each going through stressful seasons of life.
Since this is all part of my Camino journey, I will share more about this excitement/anxiety in tomorrow’s blog. Until then, I would love to get to know you better. Do you know your Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, Zodiac sign, Strengthsfinder, Big Five or any other fun way to describe yourself? If so, please introduce yourself in the comments section.