At the end of 2020, I was scrolling through my Instagram account, hunting for last-minute Christmas baking ideas, when I caught my breath. Along with the myriad of travel, baking and religious writers I follow, I also follow a few accounts focused on the Enneagram. What I saw in late December stopped me in my tracks, but also brought tears to my eyes.
@Justmyenneatype had collaborated with artist @KellyWagnerDesign to post an illustrated series on the nine Enneagram types. On many accounts, the 8 is designed around the color red, reflecting the type’s assertiveness and sense of command. But this, this one is different.
It is an image of a woman, standing amidst a red storm filled with clouds, lightning and rain. She is holding a bow, drawn, with a steady gaze beyond the reach of the viewer. She is ready to release at any moment.
Yet what brought tears to my own heart, in the middle of this woman’s intense gaze, was her body. She is bandaged, memories of past wounds. She is pierced with arrows, fresh reminders of the hits she is taking. She is steadfast as another arrow comes toward her, unseen. The largest arrow sticks upright, between her shoulder blades. She has been shot in the back. Still, she doesn’t flinch.
She is either unaware of or unbothered by the arrow that is coming.
In the past two years that this entire world has been navigating, I have been trying to be still, to lean into what is actually happening in my own body and soul in the midst of consistent chaos. I have had to quiet my own urge to keep aiming, releasing, and reloading in an attempt to bring order, hopefulness, and rightness in a season and space that is screaming for it but actively resisting it. There is no storming the gate.
It has also been a painfully vulnerable season, as my world has been both frenetic and inert. The clutter of the current season has been suffocating.
I am no longer releasing arrows into the storm, but rather into a thick fog. I am desperate not to cause collateral damage—not to hit the innocent in an attempt to bring clarity to anything, anywhere. I am painfully aware of the fear and frustration around me. It also means that while I am aiming, I can’t help but take the hit.
What I wish people knew about 8s like me is the persistence of pressure; to be at the ready; to defend, push, pursue. Our passionate love for you steels us to take the arrows, and keep hunting whatever danger threatens you.
I am equally desperate for clarity, for a sense of direction. I am aware of my own soul screaming for truthfulness, justice, hope. I grab another arrow from the quiver, because not shooting is not an option either. What am I shooting towards? Is what I am defending worth it? What am I hunting for?
What I also wish people knew about 8s like me is the load of loneliness. It means being misunderstood, attacked, and left out. Our energy and execution is welcome at the table when there is a clear threat. But in this season of utter wildness, it is fog. So we will keep shooting, often turning around at the end and finding the party has left without us. In the small window of safety, the group is grateful and gone.
What’s a gal to do, but sit down and try to attend to her own wounds?
I know that I am hunting for hopefulness. I also know that I am defending my own heart—my sense of purpose, of peace. Those things live in the same space right now, whether it’s right or wrong. It feels grounding and hard. I cannot charge the hill in this moment because I can’t see it. And my heart grieves that. For all the reasons.
The picture is still true. I am both ready, and still. Yet I am certain that I am neither unknowing nor unbothered.
Eliza Cortes Bast is a fierce and honest follower of Jesus. She is a pastor and denominational executive, dedicated to helping churches think missionally. She lives into her passion by connecting people, advocating for the community, and helping organizations think strategically so they can be healthy, vibrant, and sustainable. Eliza lives in Michigan with her patient and handsome husband EJ, and their two boys. Her loves include her home country Puerto Rico, her interracial marriage, a good steak, salsa dancing, writing, empowering emerging leaders, making the impossible possible, Diet Coke, and mentoring. She is not a big fan of anger without action, generalizations, basketball, and saying you can’t live without coffee. She believes you can because she believes in you.