Friday, April 9, 2021

Certainty/Uncertainty

 

Certainty places limits. Uncertainty allows for creativity and possibility.


One of the strongest motivators for Enneagram 6s is the need for certainty, which results in lots of planning ahead. Like many things, this can be a helpful quality except when it isn’t. The problem with an excessive need for certainty is that it places limits. 6s (including yours truly) need to learn to allow for some uncertainty in order to make space for creativity.


I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to justice work. 6s are good troubleshooters, but if we only ever see the problems in the world around us, we lack vision for what we are reaching for and are reacting instead of working towards a better future. We need prophetic imagination to get there—time to dream, wonder, and imagine how the world could be instead of only how we wish it weren’t. 


6s often feel bound by duty, which can make it difficult to prioritize time for “play,” but play is where we let ourselves try new things simply for the joy of it. This is more likely to happen when we make the security move to 9. Just like young children are more likely to explore and take risks necessary for growth and development when they feel safe and have a safe base to return to, 6s who feel settled and secure can more comfortably take risks needed in order to grow.


When I allow myself to play and explore with fewer limits, I find my creativity is boosted, which is a great help in problem solving more effectively. We can let our worried “what if...?” that leads to anxious preparation for the worst case scenario become a curious invitation to ask “what if...?” in the context of dreaming and possibility. 


How do you see this show up in yourself? Whether you’re a 6 or another number, how do you let yourself play? Perhaps we (6s) can learn from other numbers for whom playing and dreaming comes more naturally!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

deconstruction resources, part 1: books


Someone recently asked for suggestions for resources as they begin the process of faith deconstruction. As I was thinking over the books and podcasts that have been most helpful to me over the past five years or so, I thought it might be helpful for others, as well. I’ll do a separate post with some podcast recommendations.

I know deconstruction means different things to different people. For me, it has mostly meant trying to separate out my culture and biases from what the Bible really says/means and who God really is. It is impossible to be free of bias, but my view of God has expanded so much as I have intentionally sought out perspectives of marginalized people of faith. It is an on-going process, but I am (mostly) no longer afraid of the hard questions or threatened by people whose views challenge mine. There’s a lot of grief involved in this process, but I wouldn’t trade it. Wrestling with God has been an intimacy that has changed my life and my faith, and I have much more compassion for myself and others than I did before I took a deep dive in. 

Deconstruction Resources, in 3 parts:

Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin Curtice

The Color of Compromise: the Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism  by Jemar Tisby

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey

Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision by Randy S. Woodley

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr

Original Blessing: Putting Sin in Its Rightful Place by Danielle Shroyer

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah Bessey

Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning
Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right by Lisa Sharon Harper

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill

Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller

Reading While Black : An African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope by Esau McCaulley


What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell

Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us Out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode--and into a Life of Connection and Joy by Aundi Kolber

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Tell About Ourselves by Curt Thompson

The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible by Michael G. Strauss

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

You Are Enough: Learning to Love Yourself the Way God Loves You by Jonathan Puddle

Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack by Alia Joy

Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing From White Supremacy by Rachel Ricketts



Monday, March 15, 2021

deconstruction & idols

Image: text says “What if deconstruction is simply the tearing down of idols?”

I’ve seen lots of conversation lately about faith deconstruction. I know it can mean different things to different people, but I think for me, it has meant learning to see and tear down idols. As I have listened to more BIPOC, LGBTQ+, poor, and disabled folks, I have realized how deeply rooted in white American Evangelical culture my understanding of God and the Bible has been. These cultural beliefs had become all knotted up with who I thought God was, and anything we see and worship as God that is not really God, is an idol. 

If we are all made in God’s image, then to know the beautiful diversity of God’s people is to know God better. 

So many sacred cows have been tipped over for me as I have begun to see that much of what I thought was Christianity is actually just white American culture. I need God to be bigger than that, and I’m so glad to find that God is. 

As an Enneagram 6, one of the hardest parts for me at the beginning of this unraveling was the uncertainty. If I let go of one belief, but hadn’t figured out what I thought yet in its place, where would I land? Shifting foundations are so uncomfortable for those of us who like predictability and structure.

Though it was scary and disorienting at first, I’ve seen the rich fruit of wrestling with God and theology, and I’ve experienced the tenderness of God in the process of my healing. I’m learning to trust that whatever I’m letting go of will open my hands for something better and truer. When I come to God with open hands, heart, and mind, God gives me gifts for which I didn’t even know to hope or ask. 

God is so much better than many of us have allowed ourselves to believe, and we are so much more loved than we knew. Wherever you find yourself in the process of knowing God, it all belongs. You are so loved.

Monday, March 8, 2021

a nod to the inner child

The other day I had to go to my favorite local, independent pharmacy, and this little blue bird caught my attention. When I was a child, the aunt and uncle I was named after (their last name was Lindsay) had some cobalt blue glass figures like this in their house. I remember staring at them, transfixed by the color and the way the light came through, and I thought it was so beautiful.

I debated whether to spend the money, but I decided that $1.99 was worth taking a moment to honor my inner child.

In reading books like You Are Enough by Jonathan Puddle, Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, Native by Kaitlin Curtice, and now Do Better by Rachel Ricketts, along with therapy from years ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about my ancestors as well as my inner child.

Her feelings were not always honored or considered important, which sometimes causes them to come out sideways. I have tried to rationalize them away when they seemed too messy, childish, and inefficient. I’m working on paying attention to what she feels, listening to her fears, and honoring what she has to say. She is not running the show, but she needs to be acknowledged to be healed.

I’ve been learning from our Black and Indigenous siblings about our connection to our ancestors and the way we are still impacted by them as we carry them with us in our bodies and our memory. I’ve been working on understanding more about the people I come from and both the harm and the healing they brought into the world.

This little blue bird is a nod to my inner child, who was so delighted with it, as well as to my ancestors. May I remember who I came from, who I was, and how they contribute to who I am and who I want to be. May we be agents of healing in a hurting world, beginning with the inner work of healing ourselves.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

nothing has changed, but everything looks different

Four years ago today, I snapped this picture of one small, red suitcase and captioned it, “One tiny suitcase is all you need when you’re packing for one. I had forgotten what that’s like!” 

I was leaving my 1 year old and my preschooler to go to Houston for two nights. It was the first time I had gone on a trip alone in years. I was headed to a conference called LIT led by Beth Moore, one of my sheroes of the faith, for young women who had a call to speak, write, or teach. I had no idea whether I was called to do any of those things but I was certain that I was supposed to be there.


At the time, I was slowly coming out of the haze of my second round of postpartum depression and anxiety. I had recently weaned my one year old, and between taking care of her and my firstborn in the midst of my own mental health issues, I was very much living in survival mode but with hope that the fog was beginning to lift. Perhaps we would sleep again. Just maybe, I’d have a few more moments to myself each day, though my toddler’s routine nap refusals suggested otherwise. I had lost my Self again in the wake of giving birth and caring for a newborn, and I was anxiously awaiting her return. I missed her.


Shortly before the conference, I had been introduced to the Enneagram and was deeply distressed to find myself portrayed so clearly in the description of type 6—the anxiety-ridden worst-case-scenario planner. I knew it was me but did not understand how God could possibly have made me to be defined by anxiety. And yet, this seemed to be the 6’s defining characteristic. 


The day of the conference was overwhelming. God’s presence was undeniable, though it was all still such a mystery. Like Mary, I “pondered these things in my heart,” knowing I had had a significant, life-changing encounter with the Holy but unsure of what had happened and what it meant. I prayed that the day would be a turning point in my life, and that is the best term to describe it. Everything has been divided into “Before” and “After” God spoke to me at LIT. It was a commissioning for a calling I did not understand.


While I was there, Christine Caine told all of us that God wanted to ask us, “What can I do for YOU?” That God would ask this surprised and overwhelmed me. In light of everything I had been learning through the Enneagram and the words and verses I had sensed God speaking to me, I asked for lasting peace and deliverance from anxiety. I experienced a peace and quiet, contented sense of well-being in the immediate aftermath of that weekend and was hopeful that it would last forever. 


It did not. 


In the four years since that time, I have wrestled with whole new levels of anxiety, culminating in a summer of panic attacks in 2018 that were unlike anything I had ever experienced. When I asked God to take them away, the answer I heard was that God would rescue me in those moments, again and again, until I began to expect rescue each time. The intimacy of experiencing God as my habitual Rescuer still brings me to tears.


I am not still free from anxiety in the way I had hoped I would be. I still have anxiety disorder, and I’ve learned to ride out the waves of panic attacks. The over-arching theme of what God has revealed to me—the most important thing about me that is different now—is that in the midst of my mental health struggles and the shame that sometimes attends them, I have a place of belovedness to return home to. I sometimes need the reminder, but I am absolutely, completely convinced of my unconditional belovedness, regardless of the state of my mental health. While I still have general anxiety, I now have the deep-down peace of knowing that I am loved, every moment, regardless of anything I do or don’t do. It is the simplest message—“Jesus loves me. This I know”—but the most transformative. In God’s great mercy, the knowledge of God’s love that I’ve carried in my head has trickled down into my body, my heart, into the deepest nooks and crannies of my spirit. I struggle, but my worthiness is no longer at stake. I have peace in knowing myself as God’s beloved, and this gives me the courage to follow Jesus to the uncomfortable places He leads me.


I wanted God to make me consistently at ease and unbothered, but an unbothered person feels no compulsion to join in God’s work of restoration in a broken world. If I were numb to the pain around me, I would lose the Enneagram 6’s gift of being Awake. We are the guardians of the Enneagram—we spot potential trouble and prepare accordingly in order to protect the ones we love. We keep watch through the night to the sounds of the steady, sleeping breaths of others who have different gifts (thank goodness).


God is opening my eyes to the suffering of my most marginalized siblings and allows me to feel pain, lament, and repentance. The Lord knew that I didn’t need to be numb to all that is wrong in the world. I thought of Jacob's wrestling with God and the way God changed his name, and I imagined that God had changed my name--my very identity--to "Peace." 


The Creator had the wisdom to know that I was created as I was meant to be. I didn't need a new identity, but a better understanding of the one I had had all along. I prayed for peace that would be based on a lack of anxiety, and in answer, God called me “Beloved” based on my unshakeable identity. The waves of worry and panic wax and wan, but God’s Love for me is a steady beacon of hope each time we lock eyes while the storm rages around me. My journey, like every hero's journey, took me to new places in order that I might return home to myself. Nothing has changed, but everything looks different. I prayed to embody peace, as I understood it, and instead, God called me Loved, just as I am.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Healed People Heal People

 

I poured my heart and soul into this post I wrote about healing for our church’s blog over at Arapaho United Methodist Church. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the way God has met me in my pain and shame and am passionate about normalizing this conversation!

Healed People Heal People

BY LINDSAY O’CONNOR

Father Richard Rohr says that great love and great suffering are avenues for transformation. Nowhere in my life have the two been more entwined than in motherhood. They arrived on my doorstep like a whirlwind pulling me in and catching me up in a disorienting swirl of joy and pain. I came to the end of myself as I faced how little control I had over my body, my feelings, my mental health, my schedule, and the tiny lives that began (and one that ended) within my very own body. The chaotic, messy, holy intersection of shame and motherhood is where God met me. 

...continue reading at Arapaho UMC

Friday, January 22, 2021

Being good vs. being loved


I recently got out all of my old journals, the first of which began when I was barely old enough to form letters. As I read this cross-section of different stages of my life, I was struck by what now seems like unnecessary angst and striving to be good. My prayers were so earnest, and I was so anxious to do what was right. I didn’t realize that God was holding me in love the whole time, regardless of my behavior and performance. I worked so hard, hustling for worthiness (as Brené Brown says), hyper-aware of my perceived flaws, trying to be “good.” I thought that to notice a flaw meant I was immediately responsible to change that thing about myself. The striving creates anxiety, and the failure to achieve enough leads to depression.


I felt a maternal instinct toward my younger self, wishing I could wrap her in an accepting embrace and convince her of how loved she is, just as she is.


The most important thing I have discovered these last few years is that all the time I was trying so hard to be good, I forgot something much more important—I was and am loved beyond measure, just as I am. This is perhaps the least complicated but most difficult truth I know. In the moments when we can accept the abundant love that is ever-available to us from a good, good God, we are transformed, and transformed people transform the world.


May you find moments to rest in your belovedness today, no matter what you’ve done or not done. You are so loved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Year in Books: 2020


Time for my favorite post of the year—2020 in books! This includes a couple short devotionals and a few middle grade books I read with my 9 year old. I began the year with a sense that I needed to read about joy and humor (The Book of Joy and always, David Sedaris), which was pretty spot-on for this year. 

I had the honor of helping 5 different authors launch their books this year (what a year to launch a book!) and also enjoyed several book clubs. Thank you to all of the authors who have shared their work with the world, and a special congratulations to those who released a book during this difficult year!🎉 

Grateful to the bibliophiles in my life who never run out of excellent recommendations and inspire me to read more! 

The complete list:

Plan B by Anne Lamott


Chasing Vines by Beth Moore


What is the Bible? By Rob Bell


Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry


Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans


Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman


Maid by Stephanie Land


The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Deskond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams 


Calypso by David Sedaris 


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


Native by Kaitlin Curtice


The Other Three Sixteens by Malinda Fugate


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid


Beyond Colorblind by Sarah Shin


The Myth of the American Dream by D. L. Mayfield


The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson


The Whole Brain Child by Tina Payne Bryson and Daniel J Siegel


The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd


Untamed by Glennon Doyle 


The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation by AJ Sherrill


The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich


The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory


Unsettling Truths by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah


The War of Art by Steven Pressfield


You Are Enough by Jonathan Puddle


Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 


The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin 


Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah


The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor


Dear Sister by Megan Wooding


How to Fight Racism by Jemar Tisby


The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli 


Callings by Gregg Levoy


All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss


The Way Up is Down by Marlena Graves


Preparing for Christmas by Richard Rohr


Friday, December 18, 2020

Breaking pedestals

We can’t have authentic relationships with others until they fall off the pedestals we constructed and are allowed to be human. Enneagram 6s tend to look for external authorities to follow or rebel against because we don’t trust ourselves. The natural consequence is that we sometimes need more from others than what they can or should give us. It often ends in deep disappointment when we discover that they aren’t the idealized authority we had hoped they would be. When they fall off the pedestal and we discover their flaws in the harsh light of reality, we may feel betrayed or disoriented. 

Once we go through this disillusionment process, we may project our disappointment with our own wrong judgment onto the other person. If we can learn to let go of the bitterness and resentment that sometimes follow and take ownership of our part in creating this dynamic, then we can begin to have mutually fulfilling, authentic relationships. As we learn to trust ourselves, we can allow others the space to be themselves instead of some idealized version. 

Sometimes we have given other people unwarranted authority over us when they never asked for or wanted to fill that role. Other times, we may have unintentionally allowed people to exploit and manipulate our insecurity. Either way, learning to trust ourselves (and practicing self-compassion when we realize that we haven’t) will improve our relationships and lead to healthier boundaries. 


Please note that this is not true for all numbers! Some numbers need to check their excessive confidence or self-reliance by listening or reaching out to others more. This is one of many examples of why good advice for growth for one person does not mean it’s good advice for all people. Knowing ourselves better through Enneagram work can help us discern which pieces of advice will be fruitful for us and which will lead us deeper into personality.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

judgment vs. compassion



Judgement shuts down vulnerability, but compassion paves the way for connection, which is the antidote to shame.

Years ago, I was part of a small group where we were encouraged to share our struggles so we could support and pray for one another. I don’t remember the specific thing I shared (probably my struggle with anxiety or something similar), but I talked about how I was having a hard time letting go of a behavior that I knew was not good for me. Someone in the group responded by expounding upon the reasons why I should stop engaging in that behavior. 

I felt judged, angry, and ashamed, but mostly, shut down. I had summoned up the courage to be vulnerable, but it was received with judgment instead of compassion. There was no healing in this encounter. 

Judgment is a conversation stopper or perhaps an invitation to unproductive arguing. Compassion invites people to pull up a chair and tell their story while clothed in the dignity deserved by all of God’s image bearers. One of the very best discoveries of my life has been that every time I come to God with vulnerability about my struggles, I am met with compassion that leads to healing. I had no concept for the depths of God’s compassion until I began to experience it myself and God began to free me from shame. We can extend compassion to ourselves and others, just as God does for us. 

We build shame resilience through honest conversations with people who will connect empathetically, and no one is better suited to do that than Jesus, the compassionate High Priest who sympathizes with our weakness. We can love others with the love of Christ by extending compassion to those who bear the heavy burden of shame. 

I am learning that we can even extend this healing compassion to ourselves! In Enneagram language, this looks like nonjudgmental self-observation. We can’t change what we can’t see, and we can’t see it if we are full of self-condemnation. No matter what you do or don’t do, you are a beloved child of God.


“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

‭2 Cor. 1:4