Enneagram 101

I shop therefore I am. (Fabric)

Remodeling is happiness. (Design Company)

The 5 basic necessities of life: movies, TV, video, music & books. (Magazine)

Give your day a little lift. (Candy)

Acquire a taste for the ultimate compliment. (Appliances)

Wear it and be happy. (Fragrance)

What is comfort? (Shoes)

Each of these phrases is a direct quote from an advertising hook in a magazine. The parentheses denote what was being sold.

In this list, you were promised happiness (twice), that your basic needs would be met, an upturn in your day, the ultimate compliment, some comfort, and your very existence. And all of it will to come to you, of course, after you purchase the advertised item on the page.

It is the advertisers job to make you want their product. So, they dig down deep into your true needs and try to grab you there. Of course, I want to be happy. Of course, I want to be uplifted. Of course, I want to be admired. Of course, I want to be comfortable.

According to a recent USC article:

“In the 1970′s, people were exposed to about 500 ads per day. At present, people see roughly 5,000 ads per day. There are 5.3 trillion display ads shown online every year. On average, children see 20,000 thirty-second commercials each year. Adults see an average of 2 million of those on a yearly basis.”

And it’s not just advertising that is sending us messages. From an early age we receive messages from our parents, our friends, our teachers and more. We are constantly responding or reacting to what is being given to us from outside of ourselves.

Our personality is formed, in part, by what we decide to take in and by what we decide to push away and/or hide.

The ultimate reality is that we are loved by God, just as we are, and as he made us (our true self). However, as we grow up, and over time, we begin to construct a false self. We compensate for a world that is not what we thought it would be and, over time, we begin to believe the false self is actually us. But we grow tired under the weight of that mask.

Brennan Manning calls the false self “the imposter”: “While the impostor draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life.” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child)

It is good to find ways to catch the thoughts and messages throughout our day that can cause us to lose sight of our true nature: Beloved Child of God.

What messages have you been paying attention to lately? What are you letting in? Is it really true?

The actual truth is what enlivens the true self. Truth that is a Person. Truth that is eternal. Truth that bears good fruit and doesn’t have to be revisited over and over with diminishing returns. It won’t wear out or go out of style like the items promised in the advertisements.

Let’s look at the ads one more time. But this time let’s shine the light of scripture onto them. I encourage you not to see these verses as battering rams that you use to beat these advertisements into submission.

Rather, in the work of the soul, we notice and then we let ourselves sink into the grace that is ever available to us. The manner in which we wield the truth matters.

I’ll say it again: We grow at the pace of grace and we change at the pace of transformation.

I shop therefore I am.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Remodling is happiness.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

The basic necessities of life

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)

Give your day a little lift.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Acquire a taste for the ultimate compliment.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)

Wear it and be happy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

What is comfort?

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23-26)

So, go ahead, do yourself, and everyone around you, a favor. Embrace your true self and continue to throw off the ways of the false self. This may be the greatest “advertisement” for the grace-filled and kingdom-focused life this world has ever seen.

New Online Course

We need ways to engage the true self and become more free. For more than a decade, I have been working with the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a formational process that helps us to get in touch with the patterns we’ve taken on over a lifetime of adjusting to the world around us.

We have just released our new online course, Enneagram 101. I hope you’ll engage this time-tested process of transformation that shines the light on your false self and shows you the path to your true self and direction for growth. You can become a student of your own motivations and make informed decisions about your behavior.

Click the blue button below for more info.

Enneagram 101