I was able to carve out a little bit of me time in the car on the way to visit my cousin yesterday, and I came to the realization that when I try to bring any sort of helping role to the forefront of my life, it inevitably leads to bitterness, burnout, and sneaky hate vortexes because I make “helping” the larger part of my identity and the idealistic individualist in me starts dancing and screaming and destroying things for attention. (…figuratively speaking…of course.) This actually makes a great deal of sense in the context of Enneagram theory, because the direction of disintegration for romantic Fours leads to the overinvolved, clingy version of the helpful Two. So perhaps forcing myself into roles that by their best nature involve stepping back is counterproductive when it is the creative, the artist, and the performer in me who actually wants to be on.
In my experience, Chinese culture–and evangelical church culture, to be honest–tends to encourage and glorify Two-iness (while yelling at everyone to HAVE A MARY HEART IN A MARTHA WORLD, of course) with the result that I felt freakish and/or guilty at any given point while growing up. To cope, I decided that martyrdom was the way to go, and that has not surprisingly blown up in my face on more than one occasion. (I like to think that someone Googling “blown up in my face” will come upon this site since I tend to use the phrase more than the average sane person.) It’s also a little ironic that I’m still having such a hard time accepting myself since the hallmark of a Four is, in fact, reveling in one’s individualism.
The last year has been spent dismantling the ideas of my self that I constructed or were constructed for me as a child and veeeeeeery slowly reconfiguring those into what I hope is a more accurate understanding, an important part of which is learning to like me as I get to know me better. That is the inhale we talked about at church this morning, and it requires community and prayer introspection to help me take in God’s truth about me. I did a lot of inhaling after I quit my job, sucking in great gulps of air after months of slow asphyxiation. But in the last two weeks especially, I’ve also had the chance to exhale, to serve several beloved sisters simply by listening and occasionally passing on a few pearls of wisdom gleaned from my unashamedly silly little existence. One cannot inhale forever…that’s called hyperventilating. Nor can one exhale constantly…that would be suffocation, which is what classroom teaching became and what remains a constant danger if I make “helpfulness” the center of my life. But a rhythmic and balanced inhale-exhale is what leads to health, and I think that is the only goal I need right now. “Let’s talk about this later,” and that’s allowed to be said with God. Ahhhhh.