Sundays are hard.
It occurred to me last night, as I was tossing around in bed, that I dread Sundays. I dread those 24 hours because they are really very hard. And because they are so hard, I find myself angry, sad, and lost.
It’s been eight weeks since I last stood in a pulpit. Eight weeks since I walked away with my head down and heart heavy because God said it was time to leave. Eight weeks of replaying the last 10 years of my life over and over in my head. Eight weeks of questioning my self-worth, my place in the world, and my witness. Eight weeks of beating myself up for failing the churches, failing the communities, and failing God. And each time Sunday rolls around, the self-loathing starts anew.
Sundays are hard.
Some of you are familiar with the enneagram. It’s been around for hundreds of years. It’s a map that helps you discover your personality on a deeper and more spiritual scale. I have found it to be very useful in my counseling practice. I am an enneagram 2 – the helper. (If you are interested in learning more, https://www.yourenneagramcoach.com is a good place to start).
Let me just say right off that bat that being a 2 is both wonderful and awful. Twos see the world through relationships and we define ourselves based upon those relationships. According to author and enneagram coach Beth McCord, the core fear of a two is, “Being rejected and unwanted, being thought worthless, needy, inconsequential, dispensable, or unworthy of love.” And our core desire is, “Being appreciated, loved, and wanted.”
Y’all, let me just say that there has never been a truer description of myself than that right there. As a two, I have discovered that I get incredible joy from helping others and ensuring that those around me feel loved. When I offer myself to another person in relationship whether personal or professional, I take a genuine interest in them and want to be of service to them in whatever way I can. But… twos often don’t know how to do that without some self-harm.
“Because (twos) are so empathetic and sensitive, the depth of need and suffering in our world is especially burdensome to (them). Twos feel that it is their job to alleviate the pain of hurting people around (them), which is an unending responsibility, ” McCord writes. “Deep down (twos) struggle to believe that others love (them) apart from the support (they) offer.”
This description sometimes hurts me more than I can say because it’s so true of how I feel and have felt my entire life. Alleviating the pain of hurting people has been the driving force of most of my life. My senior year of high school I was voted “most dependable” because people could ALWAYS count on me to be available for them no matter what else was going on in my life. When I accepted my calling from God to go into ordained ministry, I did so because I knew God was sending me out to help people who were hurting in the world. He gave me this gift of empathy and expects me to use it to glorify Him. And from the depth of my soul I have tried to do just that. I have wanted nothing more than to please God by serving others. Unfortunately, my sinfulness has allowed satan’s voice to speak too loud at times, saying, “You aren’t loved. You aren’t needed. You are replaceable. You are forgotten.” So you can imagine (or perhaps you can’t) the internal struggle I have felt since leaving the pulpit eight weeks ago. To put it quite bluntly, I fear that I have lost my value. And that fear manifests itself every Sunday.
You see, for twos, we have a tendency to put ourselves completely out there because we want to love and be loved so profoundly. That should be easy if you’re a Christian, right? We love because we are loved by God. Unfortunately, it’s not easy! And as a two, that can be a very narrow line to walk, teetering between trusting God and trusting only ourselves. It’s that trust in self that gets me into trouble.
Twos are amazing people with hearts the size of Texas but let’s be honest…we also have a dark side. And it’s that dark side that I have found myself in these past few weeks.
When you discover your enneagram type, you will also learn about your “wings.” These are the types you gravitate to during certain moments such as stress or pain. For me, I gravitate to an eight when I feel stressed. And it’s not the healthy eight attributes that come out. It’s the unhealthy and hurtful traits that begin to dominate my reactions.
McCord describes the unhealthy eight like this, “Their whole focus revolves around protecting themselves from those whom they believe are a threat to them. They do not trust people, and assume everyone has an agenda to hurt or control them. Therefore, they want to beat them to it by controlling and hurting others first. If they have been hurt by someone, they can be very vengeful in making sure the other person gets what they deserve.”
I have to admit that I really do not like this description at all. But whether I like it or not, it speaks loads of truth and has been a very hard process to study and accept. I really don’t want to assume that the people around me only want to be around me because they need something. I don’t want to believe that if I’m not “fixing” them or someone they love then I’m inconsequential to them. I detest the voice inside that says my only worth can come if I’m serving others, even if it’s detrimental to myself. Yet, Sundays tend to be an “enneagram eight” kind of day.
I have people in my practice who struggle with self-forgiveness and I am actually really good at helping them see the source of forgiveness. I can point people to Christ and watch them blossom as they learn His love is fully available to them without question. Yet, in these past eight weeks, I have found it difficult to receive my own advice. I know God’s hands are upon me. I know God’s Spirit is with me. I know God’s love is never-ending. And, still, I feel alone, angry, sad, and unloved, and find myself asking, “Who am I, God?”
At the end of last year, I did my annual evaluation of the year and reflected on my “one word.” That time always leads me to my new word. The word I was given was “uncharted.” I had no idea just how true that word would be for 2020. Right now, my life really does feel uncharted. I have no idea where I am going or what is next. I do know that am hoping for healing. I look forward to the day when Sundays are once again filled with joy and anticipation. I know these uncharted, lonely days are only a road bump in my faith journey. I may not know what’s next. I may not feel my worth. I may dread Sundays. But I know God is bigger than all of these things. I’m still not ready to look at myself in the mirror with eyes of forgiveness. I still am not able to stop the tears at 2 AM. I still replay the words that people have said that cut me to the core.
But God’s voice is getting louder.
For every kind soul you meet with a beautiful story to tell, may you know that you are worthy of being seen that way as well. — Morgan Harper Nichols
McCord, Beth (2019). The Enneagram Type 2: The Supportive Advisor. Thomas Nelson Publishing. Kindle edition.