Yesterday I was on the receiving end of a one-two punch. Admittedly, I need one of these from time to time.
For decades I have recognized a core character fault: I have a propensity to hide behind a mask. I have playfully referred to this disguise as my “carefully-crafted, polished public persona.” At one time it was even a “carefully-crafted, polished priestly public persona.” In certain roles it can take on specific traits such as in my “carefully-crafted, polished pastoral public persona.” Though I’d like to believe I am eligible for an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role, I suspect family and good friends recognize when I flee behind my protective self-defense.
The Enneagram is a model for better understanding human personality distinguished for its system of nine interconnected personality types. I have been aware of it for decades but it never really captured my interest or fascination until last year. During my 12-month chaplain residency it provided one of those infrequent but life-altering “Oh, my god!” moments of self-recognition. Those who use the system only need to know I am a “Three, with a Two wing” and you have all you need to know to have me figured out.
We “Threes” really like our masks and will always try to be in control of our situation, public image, even other people if we are able. I need to continually attend to this character flaw lest I become truly obnoxious! One helpful tool is a daily EnneaThought emailed by the national Enneagram Institute. The one that accompanied early morning coffee yesterday packed a particular punch: Notice if you are cultivating a professional friendliness or energetic perkiness that substitutes for real intimacy and connection. Can you be more real? Am I really so obvious? The message carried quite a wallop – Punch One!
About an hour later one of my favorite blogs, Creo en Dios! arrived in my emailbox. My dear friend, Susan Stabile, had spent the day before with the Dalai Lama visiting MSP for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Forum sponsored annually by Gustavus Adolphus College. Susan paraphrased the Dalai Lama’s opening remarks:
“…when he was young, he thought of himself as first Tibetan, then Buddhist, then Dalai Lama, but that now, he sees himself first as a human being. His earlier way of thinking was one that emphasized difference, and created an attitude that leads to anxiety and pretension. The more we emphasize difference, the more we create a we/they mentality that excludes and makes universal compassion more difficult. Seeing oneself first as a human being – as one of seven billion other human beings – reminds us that we are, first and foremost, related to each other.”
Punch Two! The coincidence of this second message left me dazed, wabbling, nearly down for the count!
Through the rest of the day a long favorite Scripture passage gently echoed though my consciousness:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness. (Philippians 2)
All this was really too much – a one-two punch reminder for this “Three” to drop masks and my polished persona. Be real!
Picking myself up off the mat, I feel invited to enter more deliberately into this much-needed season of Lent. I need and invite your help along the way.
I invite you to read Susan’s entire post [here].