The Thorn in My Side: Enneagram Reflections and Pride


ya girl, the quirky christian herself

I’ve often caught myself sitting in the tension between humility and pride.

This isn’t [mostly] a new thing for me; I’m a pretty introspective person by nature, and I’ve gotten used to figuring out my intentions and the emotions behind my responses.

I want to write to you about one of my largest internal conflicts: the relentless pursuit for humility, and the relentless efforts of my hubris.

It feels a bit strange to consider myself a prideful person, considering I have the self-confidence of squirrel, but it’s true, friends, I’ve got this mini-Caitie in the back of my head and you’d think she was Iron Man the way she acts sometimes.

If I want to get this right, I have to start at the very beginning—no, not Genesis, but when I first realized that I was an incredibly flawed + prideful person that needed the supernatural help of God to be saved. As that realization continued to persist, there were two things that I knew for sure:

  1. I wasn’t going to be able to fix myself by myself
  2. I need help.

This meant, for me, that I needed a tool to help me in addition to scripture and people/mentors. And that’s when I was introduced to the Enneagram.

By reading the title, you can automatically assume that I’ll be talking about the Enneagram a lot throughout this blog post. I don’t know why I haven’t written about my thoughts on the Enneagram yet; I love the Enneagram, and I’ve honestly been wanting to express my thoughts on it for awhile now.

I first heard about the Enneagram about a year ago, and initially I met it with a lot of criticism. I like personality tests because they’re fun to take, but I don’t really think that they’re that accurate, and most of the time I don’t really take them seriously. Myers-Briggs for example: I’m an INFJ which basically puts me into the category that labels me an introvert, touchy-feely, reflective etc. And apparently Mother Teresa was an INFJ. I’m obvi not Mother Teresa. (Disclaimer: I am an introvert + I wear my heart on my sleeve, so that’s actually true). So, when I heard about the Enneagram, I just thought it was going to be this other test that put me into this high and mighty box that I didn’t feel was really me.

And it was.

When I took the Enneagram, I was labeled a type two. And I absolutely hated that. I’m not sure how exactly to explain it, but I’ve always hated being placed into this category that labels me as what the (superficial-level) Enneagram (and Myers-Briggs) tests say I am.

Now, if you don’t know that much about the Enneagram, that’s okay. I’m not going to write a book about it or anything like that, and I’ll mostly be discussing my personal relationship/feelings regarding it, but I’m including this lil link for your use if you’d like to research/take the test for yourself.

So, according to the Enneagram Institute, type two’s are characterized as The Helper; they’re “the caring, interpersonal type; generous, demonstrative, people pleasing, and possessive.” I think my first wrong in unraveling the secrets of myself was my [almost deliberate] inability to see what the problem with these “type two” characters.

Like many people who are first discovering the Enneagram, I saw the type two as this “too good to be true” version of myself; of course I want to be considered caring, and kind, and generous, and altruistic—and with a wing one? (type two, wing ones are dubbed “the servant”)— with a title like that you might as well call me Mother Theresa. And I didn’t want anyone comparing little ole me to Mother Teresa. I didn’t want to say, “I’m a type two” and it be this, “oh, and here we have yet another single Christian woman type two” kind of situation. That was the last thing I wanted. And I hated that about it.

See, if you’re a single Christian woman, you’re like *insert high number here* more likely to be typed as a two.

I didn’t want to be just another mis-typed Christian woman. 

ENTER: PRIDE

Yes, friends, all of these feelings I was having boiled down to one overwhelming emotion: pride.

For months I refused to admit to myself that I was truly a type two. I did so much as take the Enneagram two more times after this, secretly hoping that I’d find the flaw in the Enneagram and my personality type would change with the test.

This didn’t happen. Before leaving for Colorado, I took the test a third time, and was once again dubbed type two. Third time really is the charm because this was the time I finally settled into the idea that I was a type two for realsies.

In this realization, I began to look deeper into the Enneagram and dedicated time to figuring out what exactly it meant to be a type two.

Enneagram circle thingy with the two growth and stress arrows

In many ways, I didn’t want to admit that my deepest fear was that I didn’t deserve love. But it made so much sense. See, in the Enneagram, your deepest fear is often what motivates your decisions.

And love motivates all of my decisions. I’m obsessed with the stuff—giving it, receiving it, talking about it—give me a Bible and let’s flip to 1 Corinthians 13, right? Give me thirty minutes and at the end I’d guarantee you’d know all about love.

And it didn’t stop there.

Above, you’ll see the Enneagram circle in the lightest blue color, and in bold the growth and stress points of a two.

This circle (and the numbers) were helpful in my uncovering of myself.

Soon after I began this research, I discovered that the core sin of the type two is pride. . .and here we are again.

I say humbly that I’m an incredibly proud person. I think if I was a Greek Hero in a Greek Tragedy, my fatal flaw would be pride. Like call me Beowulf and catch me slayin Grendel and his momma.

Pride goes two ways, in two extremes, meaning that a person can be prideful in the sense that they can do (and need to seem like they can do) everything on their own, by their own accord; the other extreme being in the regard that they feel they don’t deserve (and aren’t worth/are beyond) help.

I’ve experienced both extremes. In these moments, I’ve found that the Enneagram is a great tool for self-discovery. With the Enneagram, one learns why they do the things that they do as well as what their core fears and desires are; such fears and desires are what motivate our decisions and are often the subconscious goals of our inner selves.

The Enneagram, in many ways, has helped me understand my relationship with God more. It’s helped me to understand that I can’t earn love, and in the same way, it has helped me work toward eliminating this core feeling I have to do to earn love or I won’t receive it. Unlike many personality tests, the Enneagram provides you with, not only the kind of person you are and why, but how you can take steps to improve your well-being and achieve your full potential as a person.

Most importantly, the Enneagram reminds us that we aren’t perfect (regardless of our types), thus leading us back to the One Who is Perfect. In my journey through the Enneagram and self-discovery, one thing sticks out to me more than anything else: I need God.

When it comes to pride, it can be difficult to admit that you need help and that you’re worthy of help, but I’m learning that we have difficulties for a reason, that reason being to lead us back to the Father.

And when it comes to Pride, I say this:

In 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul explains that he has this “thorn” in his flesh.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (v.7-10)

I don’t know for sure what exactly the “thorn” (which I can only assume is metaphorical) is, but I suspect that Paul’s thorn, like mine, was pride. Paul implies in verse seven that his temptation is pride (conceitedness); he believes that God won’t take away his “thorn” because He wants to keep Paul grounded in humility so that, at the end of the day, Paul can only boast about Christ.

I think, like Paul, each one of us has this “thorn” wedged in our sides—and we too plead for God to rid us from these things. I don’t think I’d be wrong to say that in order to keep us grounded in humility, God doesn’t relieve us from these thorns because He wants us to boast in Him, to seek Him, to love Him above all else.

The last few weeks of my life have been a struggle in existence—existence in the tension between my pride and my desperate need for God. It’s important for us to get reflective and thoughtful about who we really are. Between the Enneagram, reading my Bible, and getting serious about growing deeper in my faith, I’ve realized three paramount things:

There’s nothing really “aesthetic” about our personality types. There’s something in us all that cries out with a fervent longing for our creator.

No matter how great we think we are, God is always Greater.

Regardless of what we’re going through, we can change—nothing is truly impossible with God—it’s not always going to be about why we do what we do, but how what we do stimulates growth and, in a way, deepens our journey with God. In other words, sin is bad, but our sin should lead us to God for intimacy + forgiveness (and all those mushy things I love).

God is Loving, and from Him exudes this beautiful fountain of grace and acceptance. And He’s giving it out to all of us regardless of who we are.

Until next time,

Grace and Peace.

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