A lesson on blind spots from a good hair day

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Today is a good hair day.

I was so convinced of this fact, that this morning I took a selfie to prove it. My bangs, which I recently cut and can sometimes be unruly, were sitting just how I wanted them to be.

I went to bed with wet hair last night, and woke up with a pretty crazy mop. But it the straightening iron and the wetting down to re-blowdry seemed to do just what I hoped it would. I was pretty pleased with myself. 

(You see where this is going, don't you?)

I went to a morning meeting, feeling professional and put together. I went to the Apple Store to get a long-time computer problem fixed, sure I looked cool enough to be in a hip place.

Then, on my way out of the mall, I got sidetracked by a sale rack at a store and ended up in the fitting room. At which point I finally caught a glimpse at the BACK of my head.

good hair day - bad hair day

This picture was taken after I got home, and had actually done a little bit to fix it. I promise you the back of my hair looked worse than this picture... the ENTIRE morning...

I was horrified. 

How did I forget to look at the back? Wouldn't that be an obvious place to check for potential bedhead?  

There was a time in my life when a revelation like this would have filled me with shame, regret, and possibly tears.

But today I laughed. 

I laughed because in all the work I have done, in therapy, in enneagram, and in prayer, I have learned some things. I have learned to be honest. I can face my mistakes and blindspots with the knowledge I am loved. I have also learned to give myself grace. I know there are idiosyncrasies about who I am and how I operate that will always be more obvious to other people than to myself, and that is ok. 

I laughed knowing this is true for all of us. I was blind to my bedhead. Someone else might be blind to the toilet paper on their shoe. Neither are better or worse. They are just things that are hard for us to see. 

I also laughed in gratitude for the people in my life who have the courage to point out the bedhead, and the grace to love me well in the midst of it. 

May we all learn to love ourselves and each other with honest grace. 

 

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Enneagram and Faith: What are your deepest vulnerabilities?

the enneagram and faith

Among the many things that made it difficult for me to see a therapist was the question, “Why this?”

I had been through many difficult experiences in my life. I didn’t understand why this particular circumstance was the one pushing me over the edge. Though I knew I was off, and felt I needed help, the things I was struggling with seemed like things I should have been strong enough to handle on my own. 

My therapist answered the question for me in our second session.

I told her the story about something that happened at work. Though I talked about it with fairly little emotion, the reality is it was making me want to shrink into a corner of my house and never walk out the door again. She heard beneath my voice to my heart, and spoke the truth, “Wow, that's hitting on every one of your deepest fears, isn't it?”

We all have fears. But some are so deep, we like to bury them beneath the others, with a few distractions piled on top for good measure. Vulnerabilities we try to avoid because they are the most difficult for us to handle. 

Now, here mine were, being dug up. Publicly. Of course I needed voices of reason and empathy to help me sort through what had been unearthed.

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One of the most challenging questions enneagram asks us to face is, “What are your deepest vulnerabilities?”

The answer to that question is crucial to our spiritual growth. It deeply impacts our ability to extend empathy and love. When we dig out our vulnerabilities, we also unearth our ability to extend grace.

I am shuffling my body as I write this. My anxious energy is pushing its way through my toes and my fingers, trying to get me to avoid what I know needs to come next. It is always easiest to write about my type as an example. Which means I need to share that thing I try to keep buried. 

As a type 2, my deepest vulnerability is a fear of rejection. Do you like me? Will you like me? What can I do so you will like me? These questions circle inside me all. the. time. Usually, I either avoid them or bury them. Or perhaps most often, try to make myself feel better by answering them in the shallowest possible way. (Hello Facebook!) 

When friends doesn’t have time to get together, I fight with the fear of what that means about the value our friendship plays in their lives. After getting together with a new friend, I fight with the fear of whether I said or did things that would keep that person from wanting to see me again.

Because of this vulnerability about rejection, there are things I feel like I should be able to handle that crush me. But there are other places where someone else might get crushed, but I can handle it. I’ve been told I’m good at receiving criticism, which is the vulnerability that can devastate a type 1. I am prone to disregarding my own needs for the sake of helping others, so the fear of being neglected that a type 9 struggles with feels foreign to me. A type 5 fears looking foolish, but I’ve fallen down that stairs enough in my life to have gotten over that one years ago.

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We all have our junk. We are vulnerable when it comes to some things and strong when it comes to others.

It does me no good to compare, and wonder why that person over there is so much stronger than me. We cannot just “get over” our struggles, nor can someone else just “get over” theirs. Comparing is another way to avoid what needs to be done.

We need to do the hard work of admitting and facing our vulnerabilities. 

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. - Brené Brown

For me, this means putting practices in my life that remind me of my belovedness. When I know that at my core I am not rejected, but loved, it helps me face the relationships in my life with less manipulation and fear. Other people may be able to read one book about God’s love and feel like it’s covered. I read books like Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen and Surrender to Love by David Benner on repeat. I return to the book of Psalms and the Gospel of John over and over again. I put quotes from John O’Donohue on my email and in Evernote so I can return to them whenever I need them. I wrap up in the prayer shawl someone knit for me and feel held by unconditional affection.

Lately, thanks to the enneagram, I have been more conscious of facing the rejection questions head-on with love and grace. I’ve noticed they’re getting a little softer. I might even be able to press publish without fearing how I came across in my self-disclosure and whether you will read me again. Maybe. 

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Do you know what your deepest vulnerabilities are? How might you be able to face your them today? 

Want help figuring out your enneagram type and finding the answers to those questions? Remember to check out my enneagram coaching page for details of how I could be a voice of reason and empathy for what is getting unearthed in your life. 

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Will you kiss it?

It was a church service focused around God's deep and unconditional love for us. There were beautiful songs of worship. There was a message was on John 15, "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love." There was a touching reading of Sarah Bessey's piece, "You're already so loved."

Then, there was a time of silence. It was in that space of quiet that Love came alive to me.

In the silence I heard a small voice in the back of the room plead, "Mommy, will you kiss it?" 

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It's difficult to know how to pray when it comes to our own lives.

It can be easier, in some ways, to pray for the illnesses of others or the brokenness of the world. We can see from the outside how things are not the way they are supposed to be. We can love others as we lift them up to God.

Loving ourselves through prayer is much more complicated. It's easy to worry about being selfish or narrow-minded. What do we ask for if God already knows what we need? Aren't we asked to be patient and dependent? Shouldn't we just pray "Your will be done" over and over again?

Maybe. If that's really how we feel. Often, though, prayers like that aren't from the honesty of our own heart, but from a perception of what God is like and what God expects us to be like. 

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Daddy, will you kiss it?

"Daddy, will you kiss it?" 

It is our uncertainty about God's answer to that question that holds us back in our prayers. In so many ways, it's what we really want to know.

God, will you pause what you are doing, come down to my level, look in my eyes, and acknowledge my pain? Will you honor my requests, whether lofty or silly, with gentleness and compassion? Will you hold me in your arms, and tell me it's going to be okay? Even if the actual healing will take time and work, will you give me strength by kissing my soul with your love?

Daddy, sometimes the tender places aren't where I have already tumbled, but where I fear I might fall if I try. My hopes and dreams are aching for reassurance. Will you kiss those too? Will you run beside my bike without training wheels, holding the seat until I am ready for you to let go? Will you cheer me on? If I fall, will you help me get back up? If I get lost, will you show me the way?

God, do you love me like a good Daddy and a good Mommy? 

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In the silence, I heard a child ask, "Will you kiss it?"

In my heart, I heard the voice of God whisper "Yes." 

In my soul, I felt a tender kiss.

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