Advent and the Enneagram: Learning to Wait

Advent is the Christian season of waiting for Christ to come – it is the anticipation of the ways God enters anew into our lives. In this painful year that is 2020, a season focused on the wait for God’s inbreaking seems all the more real; we are waiting on so much in our lives. We await the passing of Coronavirus and the arrival of a vaccine. We await the realization of racial justice in our nation, the arrival of an equity in our policies, and a collective ability to see people for who they truly are.

In light of these twin pandemics, we live in shame and grief, in fear and anxiety, and in anger and powerlessness.  Similarly, Keating says we pursue affection and esteem, security and survival, and power and control.   We who know the Enneagram know the connection of these pains and pursuits to our triads, the shame dominant center of 234, the fear dominant center of 567, and the control dominant center of 891.  And we know these are traps; they keep us in the shadow of our personality, rather than living from the essence of who God has made us to be. 

Advent can be a time to consider how God comes to us bringing release from our grip on these pursuits – we must first observe the ways we are driven toward these things and instead allow the response of the Spirit to come to us, to indwell us, in new ways. 

As a 3, I am driven to achieve and want to look successful as a way to be loved, and I am swallowed up by shame when failure comes my way. Advent, this season of waiting, is not something I do well.  This year, specifically, our school’s recognition of continued patterns of racism, ways that we have failed to fully support our colleagues of color, have brought me a sense of failure and shame.  Can advent allow me to let go of the pain and grief? To let go of my desire to fix it all right now?  Can this be a time to learn to wait, to listen, and to learn?   How can I look in the mirror the Enneagram offers us to honestly see how I pursue esteem in the eyes of others to cover my sense of shame?  How can it be a time of observing God’s new direction being created within me?  

We all prefer something that is within our programmed response.  The alternative response that advent invites is one that takes us beyond these habits and patterns.  How do the habitual patterns of your dominant Enneagram type shape you?   And how can Advent shape a new response?  Can the Spirit nurture 8s to release their control and let their guard down?  With God’s embrace, can 2s step back from the hustle of nurturing relationships to feel loved?  Can Christ’s presence help 5s to trust their connections and ability to be competent in the world around them?

This advent, I am reflecting on the Enneagram in response to our social situation.  I may not have new Enneagram insights, but at the end of this long and painful year, perhaps the connection between our waiting and working for change around us, and the spiritual anticipation of something new arriving within us, will offer some new guidance and direction for our journeys.  I am hoping to discern what my personality is wired to pursue and what God might have to offer me instead during this season of waiting.  Will you sit and listen, and wait and watch with me? Will you share your own thoughts and insights on this journey?

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