a fire in my belly: reflections on being an enneagram 1

“Ones are idealists, motivated and driven on by a longing for a true, just, and moral world. They are honest and fair and can spur others to work and mature and grow. They are often gifted teachers who strive to go forward, setting a good example. They have a hard time accepting imperfections—other people’s and, above all, their own. Only when they are focused and at rest can they accept living in a (still) imperfect present and trusting in the gradual growth of the good (in Christian terms, the kingdom of God).”

-Richard Rohr, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective.

As a one on the Enneagram, this week has been exhausting. I have been weary a lot recently. As Rohr suggests above, ones want everything to be perfect—others, institutions, the world, and especially, themselves. We have definitive ideas about setting things right and feel compelled to share, even if others are not interested. We can be frustrated and disheartened by imperfection. Ones are commonly described as idealists, perfectionists, or reformers. Some of the most influential reformers in history were probably ones, including Martin Luther, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the apostle Paul. They were great agents for change, but they all faced a great deal of pushback and criticism. I suspect these four all wanted to throw in the towel more than once, but still they persevered.

I believe they persisted through incredible heartbreak and sorrow because they couldn’t do otherwise. Consider Luther’s famous dictum, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” My belief may very well be my projection because that is the burden I feel. I am aware that I have written many controversial things over the years. Still, it has never been from a desire to be a provocateur but out of a passion for wholeness in myself and the world. Sometimes, despite trying to exercise the utmost care in writing (because, of course, for ones, everything must be perfect), I am misunderstood, or I unwittingly hurt others because, as Rohr also wrote, “Ones can become obnoxious fault finders.”

Yesterday, I was wrestling with deep sorrow and shame, with the belief that I should not even be allowed around other people because they will inevitably get my crap on them. It is much easier for me to accept imperfections in others than within myself. However, there is a deep desire for wholeness regardless. I have also been working with two people who are helping me process my own story. I am learning to befriend even those undesirable parts within myself and listen to what they are trying to tell me without judgment. It is in acknowledging the good, moral, and just parts and the broken and immature parts that I can continue to move toward wholeness.

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