Growing up as the youngest of 11 children was a novelty. In gatherings when we were introduced to our parents friends they would ask “what number are you?” At first I was proud to tell them I was #11, the “caboose.” The first and last seemed special, the beginning and the end. All nine children in the middle were lumped together, but I was proud to have my own slot just for me. My mom loved children and the last child represented an ending to a long season of her bringing life into the world. Being the “baby” as she would refer to me had its perks, but it also had some setbacks too. In a pack of children, everyone wants to be seen and set apart as special, it is human nature. When there are so many children and time and resources are limited it can be a breeding ground for envy. Just consider the story of Joseph from the bible. His brothers hated him because he was favored. I didn’t choose to be born last, and yet because of that God-given birth order, there was a favor that I completely enjoyed as well as envy that often crushed me.
Along with being the youngest, I was super sensitive and was given the gift of empathy. My heart bled and took on all the sorrow and pain that was around me. My tears were of compassion and deep feeling and knowing of suffering. This very gift became like a target on my back where I was vulnerable to attack. My tears drew violence and mockery and boatloads of shame. Being a baby was a bad thing but I hadn’t yet learned to contain my emotion, in fact it is still so hard for me to do. There is a time and place to cry. In our culture the time is “not now” and the place is alone in your room behind a closed door. We are taught early and told often to suck it up. For some reason, I never quite mastered that skill. My heart feels and so my eyes express and release the tears. I see you and I am sad too! This is the message of tears. It has taken over 40 years to come to a place of loving acceptance for the gift of tears. In learning to release the heartache through tears, there is a re-ordering of the heart. Letting go of the suffering that isn’t mine to bear opens up a space deep inside for God’s light and compassionate love to fill and restore and make new.
Many years ago, in a women’s study the question, “What number are you?” returned. I found it a little off-putting because I had no understanding of what she was referring to. As those at the table chimed in and engaged in a rich conversation about the Enneagram, I sunk into the confusion and shame of not knowing. I resisted learning about it though my curiosity was piqued. I didn’t want to be known as a number again; I wanted to be seen and valued as so much more. Over time my heart and passion for the Enneagram has shifted. Although I don’t like to ask people “what’s your number?” I do want to know how they see the world and what tends to pull them out of the light of God’s glory and how they have learned to recognize and return to their essence.
The Enneagram is a powerful tool that helps bring order and goodness in places of confusion and chaos.
It ushers in connection, curiosity, kindness and compassion. As we begin to understand who we are at the core of our being and learn to love and bless the unique lens God has given us to see and engage the world, we are bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.
As we return to this posture of radical self love and acceptance we are then able to share that gift with those we encounter. We are so much more than a number and yet, numbers are helpful for bringing order and helping us learn and understand God’s creation and perfect design. He created something different on each of the seven days in which he spoke order into chaos. We are each created with unique gifts and passions to bring order to our lives and the kingdom of God. You are invited to take a step and explore the mystery of the Enneagram so that you can experience the fullness of God’s love for you and those he has blessed you with.
You can register for an enneagram workshop I am hosting in the Seattle area in March here. I would love to see you there!
Jean Masukevich is a trauma sensitive yoga teacher and integrative coach with over 20 years of teaching experience. Her mission is to guide others to greater mind, body, Spirit integration and connection to their authentic self. She cultivates communities of care where individuals and groups heal and share their hearts and stories through movement, writing, meditation, integrative prayer, creativity, and the sacred art of listening. Jean holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith. Jean serves both children and adults and is available for in person and remote coaching. Contact her at Sowthatjean@gmail.com.