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The Enneagram and The Healing of My Heart

Through conversation with others and pondering my own experiences, I’ve been realizing a really important key to Enneagram work as a wholehearted disciple. I’ve begun to see how my core longings and core fears are intended to be what draws me toward my Father on a constant basis. If He is really the Creator and Lover of my soul, He’s got to be deeply connected to who I am at my core. I believe it’s true for every person and every Enneagram type. The Enneagram is a tool that has helped bring awareness to the things that are going on under the surface, deep inside my heart. I’m finding what has been there from the beginning, a place that only the Father can satisfy and fulfill. I get in trouble when I pursue the fulfillment of those core desires in other people or other things. 

As a 2 on the Enneagram, I have a core desire to be loved and to be needed. On the flip side, my core fear is to not feel needed or wanted. I have spent most of my life looking to others to fill that need. I long for affirmation, and I learned at a very young age to make myself helpful and useful because that got me the most validation. I found that my own needs would get in the way of that performance, so I repressed them. This led to a lifetime of what I call “chronic people-pleasing.” The problem was, there was never enough. The more validation I received, the harder I had to perform to get more. It was an exhausting cycle.

As I got older I gained glimpses of freedom and peeled back a layer of fear here and there, but overall I still struggled immensely with this huge need for approval. I noticed a pattern in my narrative of feeling unseen or overlooked. Some of this has to do with my 2ish desire to be seen and to be thanked, and affirmed by people. So when that doesn’t happen, I feel invalidated, or spiral into self-pity. However, outside of that, I remembered many instances of being legitimately overlooked. A bit like Mia in Princess Diaries, “Someone sat on me again, today.” It sounds so pitiful to admit, but when I have been in a line of people getting prayed for and the person praying comes down the line and literally skips right over top of me as if I wasn’t there, multiple times, I’ve got to take note.

One of those bigger instances happened during a Discipleship school I was attending. My small group leader noticed, and gave me encouragement about how the Father sees me. She mentioned the story of Hagar. When Hagar felt the most unvalued, disposed of, and utterly alone the Father met her, and she was the first person in the Bible to call him Jehovah El Roi: The God who sees. That story has stayed with me ever since, and it still ministers to me all the time. The truth is, even after many years, and lots of healing, I still long for affirmation and approval. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get rid of the desire and conquer the fear. Yet, I still circle the mountain all the time and run into the same feelings along the way.

What I am freshly discovering is that I was created to experience approval. My desire for affirmation isn’t bad. It was put there by my Creator. In fact, I have an infinite need to be affirmed, and seen, and loved; to belong. These core things that the Enneagram pointed out in me don’t need to be fixed. They connect me more deeply to my Father, who is the Lover of my Soul. He has an infinite supply of love to meet my infinite needs. I just have to curl up in His lap and let Him give it to me.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t want affirmation from people or need community. When I don’t depend on being seen by people as my identity, I actually get to experience their love and affirmation as a gift. I was also created to pour out love like that, to be able to see people, and to love people; to give in the way that the Father gives. I can never do that if I have not received it from Him. When I nestle into His heart and live for His eyes, all self-pity, self-focus, and self-reliance get obliterated without any effort on my part. Seeing others becomes second nature. I don’t hide from my own needs, but bring my whole needy self into the light, first with my Father, and also with the community where I am safe and loved. Suddenly, my neediness isn’t a problem, it is a place of deep connection, and the love I so desperately desire.

If you are interested in discovering more of the Enneagram yourself, there are several resources I always highly recommend:

 For a History of where it started and how it developed + A good look at each type:

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective Paperback – Illustrated, September 1, 2001

Easy read and great overview of each type + Advice for transformation: 

Amazon – The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery: Cron, Ian Morgan, Stabile, Suzanne: 9780830846191

A Favorite! For understanding others, and a wholehearted journey:

 The Journey Toward Wholeness: Enneagram Wisdom for Stress, Balance, and Transformation: Stabile, Suzanne: 9781514001165

JoAnna Fannin
JoAnna Fannin
JoAnna grew up in rural Ohio. She enjoys getting lost in a great book, writing, and exploring new places with her hubby. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband Brian and her two children Josiah and Ellory.

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