I have always loved a good personality test. From my high school days, I have enjoyed learning about my wiring and natural tendencies. This past year, I was introduced to the Enneagram. After completing the test, I confirmed (as there was little question in my mind) that I am an Enneagram 8. According to the Enneagram Institute, an 8 is:
THE CHALLENGER The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable.
I’m sure that I will unpack some of the joys of this wiring in the future, but for today, I need to say a word about my personality and hope. Let’s be really honest, hope is one of the last things on my list of natural tendencies. I tear apart all wishful positivity. I am the first to shoot holes in a new idea. Instead, I manage the faults and avoid failure…at all cost. To an 8, hope is often seen as fluffy and unnecessary, even extra.
So what does a person like me do with the hope of Advent?
First of all, I don’t run from it. I have gained a smidge of knowledge in my days on earth. These hard lessons often come because my strong, decisive self has injected my challenging ways into a situation or people group that enjoy calm and positivity and community. These things can often fly in the face of an 8. At my worst, I assume that other people are my downfall. I resent their consistent drain of my energy and prefer to instead press on with the clarity of self that has a plan and way and checklist of demands.
As with any personality, we can choose to live in the worst-of-times behaviors or we can strive to flourish in the gifts that we bring to the world. My family needs my organization. My high expectations for myself and others leads me to propel others and the organizations that I support to new heights. I don’t remember a time that I was unwilling to confront or ask a hard question. This is the annoying blessing of the 8. But left unchecked, it can also be the demise of a group. Many groups cannot function with multiple 8’s. And certainly, unhealthy 8’s in mixed company are an organizational nightmare. Case and point…our government.
Today was one of those days that my 8-ness was in full effect. Humorous side note, I am married to an Enneagram 1 and I am raising a 2 and 3. Sweet Baby Jesus, save us from ourselves. We are passionate and strong and always right. Each of us. Separately. In addition to the holiday crunch, impending finals, big swim meet preparations and a hectic work schedule, my recent health challenges and the needs of others have filled my days. Oh, and I have jury duty tomorrow.
Nothing seemed to go as planned. Certainly not the way that I planned it, anyway. And when that happens to an 8, ‘pissed off’ the is Sunday school description of the wrath that is coming your way. Let’s just say that hope was out the window. Hope was the absolute last thing that I WANTED to see in this day. But thankfully, I have been looking for hope in the whispers. I have watched for hope in the distance. I have never been more thankful for deliberate and intentional hope searching, because left to my own willful and dominating self, hope would have been missed.
You know where I found it? I found it in Costco. Right between the frozen section and the paper goods. At a moment when I didn’t think I had anything else to give, someone I love needed me – in all my assertive, protective wonder – to BE hope. And the only reason I was invited into that holy space was because I did what I thought I couldn’t possibly have time for – I answered the phone. I used the way Creator has wired me to be present. If that’s not living in hope, I don’t know what it. Because the greatest hope for someone like me is to know that just as I am, with all of my bumps and bruises, I am perfectly enough.