I am on the good side of yet another nasty work deadline, and now feel I can safely get excited for an upcoming family vacation! One week, twelve people, two vehicles, cabins, mountains, hiking! Just the week we all need!!
Knowing my family understands my love of lists and planning, I sent a jolly email out to the group late last week: work is done, time to plan! But then I pause. Though I generally thrive with organization and structure, I become a very different person when I’m on vacation. I felt the need to make an already too long email even longer by diving into a study of my personality!
There are many, MANY different kinds of personality tests out there. Each have taught me something about myself. But the Enneagram has been the most helpful to understand how I interact with people in different areas of life. The Enneagram is a model of human personality centered on nine interconnected personality types which are represented by the points of a geometric figure. (There are many books on the subject, but Wikipedia provides a reasonable summary.)
I am a classic “1” but my “security point” is a “7.” To de-code this: in my normal life I am an organized, structured rule-follower, highly critical of myself, always expecting perfection. But on vacation – when I can truly step away from reality – I seek fun, spontaneity, avoid negative emotions and could care less about plans and agenda!
Sure, this is all true about me. But after that email went out, I wondered why I felt it was necessary to share it… My guess is that I wanted to give everyone a glimpse into my current mental state (scary!), hoping it would be helpful as they prepared to spend an entire week with me! When you understand where someone is coming from, it is easier to approach them, to work with them, to live life with them.
The human behavior I’ve witnessed in our country lately is appalling and upsetting. We choose sides, we pick fights, we celebrate division. I see very little meeting in the middle; few who will attempt to understand those on the “other side. Sure, I know those peace-makers exist – but they are definitely not making headline news!
I’ll admit – I am a part of the problem. When I disagree with someone, my initial reaction is to think “Man, what an idiot.” Instead, my initial thought should be “What is this person’s story? How did they reach this decision? How can we find a way to relate?”
Yes, God made each of us unique. But God also made us really complex! Complicated emotions, widely varying reactions, different stories, different perspective. It seems our society seeks out these differences – and then uses them to put up walls, to create groups which can’t or won’t interact, and to make life choices with an “us versus them” mentality. But I can’t believe that God created us so wonderfully different to create conflict; our human sin (greed, selfishness, hatred) did that.
So the challenge for us is to fight against that societal call for division, and seek conversation – like real, in person conversation! Seek the middle ground, appreciate the unique perspective of others.
I do not anticipate serious division or conflict on this upcoming family vacation! As family, we come together with shared love and respect for one another, and we work to understand our differences. If we are real with each other, we experience greater value in one another’s presence. And I have a feeling that regardless of my “1” or “7” status, my family will find a way to cope with me for one whole week!