Continue Becoming

Peace to you all!

It has been sometime now since you all last heard from me.

Don’t worry! I haven’t given up writing and blogging. Actually quite the contrary.

I have enjoyed this so much and found it incredibly life giving.  So much so that I decided to take things a little more seriously.

When I first started blogging I didn’t do a whole lot of research or anything, I knew I could start something easily on wordpress so that’s what I did. I didn’t even realize that there is a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. Of course, because I didn’t do my research, I put a lot of time and effort into a platform that really isn’t conducive to what I am trying to do. This site is far more limited and restrictive.

So I decided to take the leap…

I made my own website!

Talk about a learning curve. Ha!

But that is what I have been up to the last couple of months – creating a brand, visioning, building, getting everything fine tuned, and finalized. Now I am ready to launch! All of my posts here have been transferred there.

Please check out my new website at continuebecoming.com.

If you like what you see and want to join the journey be sure to subscribe to the blog and to my e-mail list.

You have been so supportive and encouraging here. I would love to see you all there!

Shalom!

Book Review: ‘Finding God in the Waves’ By Mike McHargue

Do you ever want to read a book not because you don’t know the story, but because you actually already DO know the story and you simply want to know more of the details?

This was the case for me with Mike McHargue’s book, Finding God in the Waves.

Finding God in the Waves

Finding God in the Waves is a memoir, a book on the Bible, and a science book all in one. It is a book in which Mike shares his story of falling away from his faith and then finding it again.

I was very familiar with Mike’s story before reading his book. I follow much of Mike’s other work in which he is better known as ‘Science Mike.’ I am an avid listener of The Liturgist Podcast, which Mike started with Michael Gungor. I also really enjoy listening to Ask Science Mike, which is Mike’s solo podcast in which he answers life, faith, and science questions that his listening audience submit for him to answer. I highly recommend both of these podcasts.

Mike has shared his story of being a strict Southern Baptist, losing his faith and becoming an Atheist for a few years, only to have an incredible mystical experience during a Rob Bell two-day conference that awakened his faith in new and exciting ways.

Wild story, right? Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler. Again, Finding God in the Waves, should not be read to learn the story.

It should be read to learn the details.

The how, the when, and the why.

His story is incredibly intriguing. If you didn’t just read, “A strict Southern Baptist, losing his faith and becoming an Atheist, only to have an incredible mystical experience during a Rob Bell two-day conference that awakened his faith in new and exciting ways,” and think, “Hmmm…I really need to read this book,” then something is wrong with you! Ha!

I still remember the first time I heard Mike share his story. I was listening to The Liturgists Podcast episodes 6 and 7 “Lost and Found” as I was driving home. His story had me laughing, thinking, and crying. It had me moved. It gave me goosebumps and made tears come to my eyes as I felt a flow of spiritual energy run through me.  I was shook. I don’t know of another way to describe it.

Since then, I have heard Mike tell his story many times on other Podcasts or interviews. I was able to see Mike talk in Minneapolis at a conference about Faith and Science called “Jesus Rode a Dinosaur.” (Awesome name right?! Ha!)

Again, I was very familiar with his story. Yet I still wanted to read his book.

I needed to read his book. 

I was not disappointed.

Mike’s writing holds depth and while he tackles incredibly complex concepts scientifically and spiritually, his writing is approachable and understandable.

You don’t need to be a scientist to read this book. You also don’t need to be a professional theologian.

All that you need is an open mind, a little curiosity, and a willingness to allow yourself to question.

If you come to Mike’s book, Finding God in the Waves, with those few things, then you just may find God within the pages.

Get Finding God in the Waves HERE.


What are you currently reading? Anything that is waking you up? Let me know in the comments.

May the peace which surpasses all understanding be with you all.

©Derek Harkins 2018

Book Review: ‘Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr

Do you ever walk into a book store or a library and are immediately overwhelmed by the vast amount of literature and information collected there? Does it make it difficult to pick out something to read? Or if you are anything like me you will want to grab them all. I live by a philosophy, “No Cover Goes Uncracked.” However, because of the vast amount of reading to be done, I often get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

I have always been an avid reader, however, as life has gotten busier that has been one spiritual practice I have continually let slide. Throughout my process of deconstruction/reconstruction, especially this last year, I have made reading a priority again. I have read some amazing, life-changing books and I want to share them with you.

I will be starting a new ‘Book Review’ series on my blog where I give reviews of the books that I have recently read. Hopefully this will help you sift through the vast amounts of reading material and help you narrow down that search for the next book you will read. Or perhaps I will save you some time reading a book that isn’t very helpful (But so far I have read some amazing works that I will be fully recommending). I will start with the book that I most recently finished, Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.


Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life
By: Richard Rohr

Falling Upward

Many people are mistaken in thinking that Rohr’s book, Falling Upward, is a book for those entering the later half of life, meaning that is for those “Over the Hill” on the back end of life.  This book really has nothing to do with age. It does not mean your first half of life is from age 0-40 and your second half of life is from 41-80+.

This book is about the two spiritual halves of life.

There is the first half of your spiritual life where we work so hard to build up our ‘false selves’ and we are so worried about power, structure, and institutions. This half is far more concerned with ‘Me, Myself, and I’ than it is about God or serving the other. This half is about the building up of yourself, your individuality – it is about creating your identity.

Then there is the second half of life, where you find your true self and are able to finally and fully live into who you were created to be. It is only in this ‘second half’ that you are able to let go of the illusion that we have built up in the first half and begin to swim in the deep waters of spirituality. According to Rohr, this is where the mystics of every faith tradition find themselves. It is the path of contemplation.

Rohr is a Franciscan monk and has practiced deep contemplation and taught it for many years.  Falling Upward is Rohr imparting his lifetime of knowledge, but it is also his encouragement for our own spiritual journeys.

Interestingly, Rohr emphasizes again and again that we need the first half in order to get to the second half. So we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for all the work we did building up our false selves. In fact, he talks about the first half as ‘building up our container’ that will hold our second half.

Rohr also makes very clear that almost universally, if one finds their way into the second half of their spiritual life, people must undergo great challenges, struggles, and suffering to reach the second half. One cannot simply read Rohr’s book and will themselves into the second half. It can help guide their journey, but each individual must walk their own journey.  The struggle of climbing the mountain and journeying the depths of the valley is actually the very thing that will allow one to let go of their illusions and allow themselves to live into their true self. If an individual finds themselves in the comfort of dwelling on the beach by a lake, well, what reason do they have to question or wonder if there is something more or deeper.  They don’t. And they won’t want to let the comfort and security go. Finding our way into the second half is difficult work.

It should be made clear that not everyone actually makes it through the valley and into the second half of their spiritual journey. Some people choose to be stuck in the first half forever. This can be for many reasons, but mostly it seems to be that the individual chooses to hold onto the reality of perceived power, wealth, and security that they have created for themselves in the first half. They cannot let it go. Much like the rich man that Jesus told to go sell all of his possessions and give it away to the poor before he could follow him, the man was unwilling to let it all go. (Luke 18:18-23)

Regardless of where you might feel you are at in your journey, I recommend Falling Upward. It might help you gain clarity and insight into your own journey and where you have been. It might jump-start some questioning and pondering for you. It is not an answer book or an easy fix or a handbook towards finding God. It is a gentle prodding to those on the beach of their first half telling them that there is far more to be found if they just start walking. It is also a word of encouragement to let you know that you are not alone if you find yourself on that journey now. The transition can be incredibly difficult from the first half to the second. To know that there are others who have gone before us is helpful.

You can purchase Falling Upward HERE


Let me know in the comments if you have read Falling Upward and what your thoughts are. Also please share with me what you currently reading and if you recommend it.

Wherever you are in your journey, may the peace which surpasses all understanding be with you all.

©Derek Harkins 2018

The Parable of the Round Table

The Realm of God is like a rabbi, a Roman Catholic priest, a Protestant pastor, an imam, a Buddhist monk, a Hindu priest, and an atheist gathering together around a round table in their favorite bar. As they each enter the establishment they walk up to the bar and order their drink before finding their seat around the worn, stained table. Many pints and drinks of joy and sorrow had been shared around this table.

If the table could talk, oh the secrets it would share.

The table does talk though – in its own way. Through its scars, watermarks, and gouges it tells those who sit at it that this is a place of peace. This is a place of conversation. This is a place of questions. A place for burdens and delights to be shared openly and freely. This table is a safe space. It is a place for disagreements and debate, but never for winning. Never for converting. Never for proselytizing. This table is neutral ground.

No.

This table is Holy Ground.

If it weren’t for the spilled beer, popcorn, and peanut shells covering the floor, one could get the crazy idea that they should take their shoes off here. However, these holy women and men leave their shoes on and saddle up to the table with their drinks. Each of them places their drink in front of them, but none of them partake.

They do not talk.

No. Now is not the time for talking.

Now is the time for listening…for dwelling.

Now is the time for being.

They sit there around that old, worn table. They sit there in silence, looking into each others eyes. Sometimes what is seen in those eyes is too much to bear, and the glance is diverted until they rest on another’s. Sometimes the gaze is locked, eyes studying eyes – seeking, searching for something within. Each human being taking in the one across from them, and then the one next to them, and then the one next to them.

Female. Old. Brown. Freckles. Black. Simple. Male. Young. White. Ornate.

Differences. Many differences gathered around that table. Many walls that could be put up. Many judgements and prejudices that hover around them like a smog that if given credence would flood the room suffocating them all.

Yet, as they stare into one another’s eyes and as tears start to fall down each of their cheeks, so to does the perception of the walls between them begin to crumble down.

As they look into one another’s eyes in silence gathered around that holy table, they begin to weep. Tears stream down their faces and as they weep hands reach out to hands. They grasp one another, clasping – united. A circle of difference bound together by their shared humanity.

And then the first words of this gathering are uttered from the lips of those united in this circle.

One word. Many languages.

“Shalom”

“Pax”

“Salaam”

“Shanti”

“Peace”

Peace. Peace. Peace. 

Only then are their glasses raised and laughter fills the air.

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©Derek Harkins 2018

I Am Moved

The Universe moves me.

Whether I am looking at the clouds
flying across the blue canvas that drapes our planet,
or I am looking at those specks of light
scattered across the darkness, billions of light years away,
day or night
I am moved.

I stand still,
completely still.

As I stand and reflect on existence and the Cosmos,
I am moved.
Still, yet moving.
Another of life’s mysterious paradoxes that brings me such joy…
that I can be as still as can be,
and, at the very same time, I am moving at speeds and rates unfathomable.

Literally moving.
1,000 miles per hour, the Earth spins on its axis.
67,000 miles per hour, our planet soars around the Sun.
515,000 miles per hour, our neighborhood – eight planets (or nine if you count Pluto) and our star – meanders through our galaxy.
1.3 million miles per hour, The Milky Way makes its way through space.

And lest you still might be under the illusion that we are actually able to stand still…
The entire Universe is expanding,
moving outward at a rate of 68 kilometers per second per megaparsec.
In order to help your mind grasp the ungraspable,
A megaparsec is roughly 3 million light years.

Yes, I am moved.

Literally
Emotionally
Figuratively
Spiritually

Moved.

I am moved by the divine reflected in and through all of creation,
from the mystery of subatomic particles that appear and disappear at whim,
to the supernovas that while being the death of a star,
are actually a rebirth of matter and energy into something new…
a resurrection of colossal scale.

Oh, sisters and brothers, are we moving!

Nothing unifies us more than this.
We are moving together.
Brown, black, white,
regardless of sexuality,
regardless of gender identity,
Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist,
American, Mexican, Russian, Iranian, Palestinian, Chinese,
human, mammal, reptile, amphibian, birds, and sea creatures
trees, flowers, forests, oceans, lakes, rivers…

We are moving.

On this rock we lovingly call our planet,
we are ALL hurtling through space together.
We are on this journey together.

The Universe is the great equalizer.
It cares not about perceived divisions.
It is unity.
It cares not about perceived power.
It is power.
It cares not about perceived constructs.
It is beauty.

It is.

So, fellow residents of the Universe,
stand still with me.
Stand still and know that you are moving…
moving at incomprehensible rates without even taking a step.

We are moving forward.
Continually called forward together by the divine movement.
Together.

Yes, in my stillness…

I am moved.

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©Derek Harkins 2018

Enneagram Experts: Your Go-To Gurus

As I stated in my last post (HERE), I am not an expert on the Enneagram. I have only been studying it and doing my own self-reflection and deconstruction/reconstruction for a year now. That being said, I do have several experts I would like to recommend to you on just about every platform available…a little something for everyone’s personal learning preference.


We will start with my favorite way to learn – taking it back to the Old SchoolBooks! Reading words on real, bound, paper pages is still my preferred way to study and learn. Of course, many of these books I will be recommending can be found for your favorite e-reader, but be sure to have a notebook or journal ready to jot down notes in. Here are the books I recommend and in this reading order (of course if you are a One you will follow my reading order perfectly, if you are an Eight you will read in whatever order you darn well please, and if you are a Five you won’t need these recommendations at all because you will have already researched them yourself):

The Road Back to You Cover

1.The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery By Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile are the current Enneagram ‘Rock Stars’ and you will see them both featured a couple times in this article with other projects. The Road Back to You is the perfect doorway into The Enneagram.  It is the primer you need to help you find your number if you are struggling with figuring that out. It also is a great thorough starting point towards understanding all of the other numbers and their intricacies. It doesn’t go into great depth, but is a great starting point.

Purchase The Road Back to You HERE

The Complete Enneagram Cover

2. The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge By Beatrice Chestnut, PHD

Beatrice Chestnut titled her work here appropriately. This indeed is the COMPLETE Enneagram. There is so much depth, knowledge, wisdom, and information here that calls for multiple readings of the entire book. While it is ‘academic’ and thorough, it is also very readable, so no worries there. If you are at all serious about digging deep and doing real personal reflection and work this is a must read.

Purchase The Complete Enneagram HERE

The Enneagram Christian Perspective Cover

3. The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective By Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

The Enneagram can be an incredible tool for self-understanding, but it is also an amazing tool for enhancing your Spiritual Life and connection to God and creation. Rohr and Ebert do a great job of this by tying The Enneagram into their understanding of the Christian faith. Rohr, a Franciscan Monk and author of several other books, is known across the world as a leading and respected Enneagram expert. I found this book much more helpful and understandable after I had a deeper grasp on what The Enneagram is. It was the first book I tried to read and had to put it down to read The Road Back to You, but then came back to it recently and was pleased to be able to connect with it on a much deeper level and enjoyed it greatly.

Purchase The Enneagram HERE

(These last two book recommendations are books that I personally have not read yet, but they are on my reading list.)

The Sacred Enneagram Cover

4. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth By Christopher L. Heuertz

Purchase The Sacred Enneagram HERE

The Path Between Us Cover

5. The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships By Suzanne Stabile

Purchase The Path Between Us HERE


The next medium that I have used a ton for learning is Podcasts. Podcasts are awesome ways to learn from real experts at just about anytime whether it be when you are driving, working, cleaning, cooking, relaxing, waiting…well you get the point. Huge fan of podcasts in general, but these are a few Enneagram themed podcasts that I found to be enlightening and helpful:

The Liturgists Podcast

1. The Liturgists Podcast: episode 37 By Michael Gungor and Science Mike

The Liturgists Podcast is a great podcast all around and they cover absolutely every topic under the sun. However, I am specifically recommending that you listen to Episode 37 of their podcast initially before the others, because it is a great starting point. Michael and Science Mike interview Suzanne Stabile and Ian Morgan Cron and it gives a great basic understanding of The Enneagram and all nine numbers.

Find Episode 37 of The Liturgist Podcast HERE

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2. Typology By Ian Morgan Cron

Typology is a great podcast that is Enneagram all the time. Ian Morgan Cron, coauthor of The Road Back to You, usually interviews other people talking to them about their numbers. Many different subjects arise and how the Enneagram fits into each situation. Highly recommend.

Find Typology at your favorite Podcast app, iTunes, or HERE

the Enneagram Journey

3. The Enneagram Journey By Suzanne Stabile

Much like Typology, The Enneagram Journey is a podcast where coauthor of The Road Back to You, Suzanne Stabile, interviews people and talks to them about their number and how they relate to the world and to other people and numbers. It is a great podcast and I always appreciate Suzanne’s perspective and wisdom.

Find The Enneagram Journey at your favorite Podcast app, iTunes, or HERE

sleeping at last podcast

4. The Sleeping At Last Podcast By Ryan O’Neal

If you haven’t heard of Sleeping at Last and the music of Ryan O’Neal, you are missing out! Ryan is a Chicago based singer-songwriter, composer, and producer. Ryan is also a student of the Enneagram and has taken it upon himself to compose a song for each number of the Enneagram. He has only released the first 5 numbers, but each one is breathtaking and incredibly insightful. On his podcast he breaks the songs down and tells you why he made the compositional and production choices he made based upon each number. He also has Enneagram expert Chris Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, on to help him break down each number. Each episode and song is fascinating and I can’t wait until he has released them all (mostly because I am a Nine and my song will be last! HA!) Definitely give these a listen, even if they aren’t your specific number.

Find The Sleeping At Last Podcast at your favorite Podcast app, iTunes, or HERE


Another great resource for learning is of course the internet. There are two main websites that I have found helpful, but of course there is an endless supply of information if you just Google. The two webpages I recommend are:

1. https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/  <——— My primary web source

2. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/


Finally, if you are really serious about digging deeper you can always consider seeking out workshops or retreats that an accredited Enneagram teacher might be leading in a city near you. For those on a budget or can’t travel or who simply want to learn from the comfort of their couch, The Liturgist have released a wonderful online workshop on The Enneagram with Enneagram expert Annie Diamond. Check it out HERE


There, that should keep you all plenty busy for awhile! HA!  I hope you find these resources helpful. I would love to hear from you if you find any specific insights helpful or have questions. We are all here to learn together. Were there any resources that I missed that you have found helpful? I would love to hear about them.

Peace.

©Derek Harkins 2018

The Enneagram. The what?!

Some of you may know what the Enneagram is, but I would guess that many of you might not. This certainly isn’t a comprehensive review, but more of a teaser that might encourage you to delve deeper into learning more about it. A large disclaimer – I am not an expert. I am still most definitely a novice with lots to learn and will continue to share as I learn. I will be sharing several resources that I find helpful in a following post (which you can find HERE.)

The Enneagram, at its very basic understanding, is an ancient personality typing system – a sort of compass that helps you find yourself.  Enneagram literally means in Greek “The drawing of Nine.” It asserts that human beings are drawn to one of nine distinct personality types. These personalities are thought to be a bit of both nature and nurture. Something in us is predisposed to a personality, but we also take on a personality type very early on in response to our experiences. Our personality is a way that we human beings learn to interact with the outer world and still keep our inner-self safe. It is argued then, that our personality is not truly who we are, but it is a defense strategy we put up to protect our true self. We learn very early in life that our true self isn’t safe in the world. Our personality is who we are, but then again it isn’t. It is the walls around the castle, but it isn’t the castle itself. Our personality, our type, helps us navigate through the world. It is how we interact with others. It is how we make decisions. It is how we handle and deal with conflict. It is our subconscious habits and routines.

By understanding our type, our predispositions, and reflecting on our self, we are able to gain some self-awareness and begin to move beyond our personality and into our true-self. I will now give you a brief run down of the nine types, and will provide a link for each type for further description. I will include a picture of each numbers ‘Totem Animal’/ ‘Spirit Animal’ as well for something fun.

  1. The Perfectionist

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The One is known as The Perfectionist or The Reformer. These names fit the One well. Ones are able to see what’s wrong in the world almost immediately. They can determine what needs fixing in a situation, in a relationship, at a job, in an organization, in others, but mostly in themselves. Ones get a bad rap, because who wants to be criticized all the time, but Ones are actually incredible people to have close to you, as long as you are willing to be open to self-reflection and growth. Ones demand an integrity that holds the people around them accountable. They are honest and forthright. Every One will tell you that they have a literal voice in their head that they name ‘The Inner Critic.’ Learning how to navigate and relate with their ‘Inner Critic’ is probably the most difficult, yet the most important task the One has. An integrated healthy One will have figured out how to use the ‘Inner Critic’ as a tool to better themselves and the world, but they will not allow it to hold them captive. A disintegrated One allows the ‘Inner Critic’ to run the show. It becomes the loudest voice in their life. Nothing and no one is good enough, especially themselves. Ones tend to be hardest on themselves. This leads them to live their life in resentment and anger. Ones move to a Four in Stress/Disintegration and move to a Seven in Health/Integration. Find out more about Ones HERE.

  1. The Helper

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Twos have a deep-seeded belief that in order to be loved they have to earn it. Because of this belief, Twos then feel driven to help, care for, and support others whom they want to love them back. Twos will always care for others before themselves. They are extremely intuitive emotionally and are able to tell what others might need, and then they work tirelessly to provide that need for them. Many of us love Twos for this, because they give us love and attention and are willing to do almost anything for us. However, Twos also have the ability, especially in disintegration, to come off as intrusive and manipulative. They can insert themselves into relationships and/or situations that they haven’t been invited into. The greatest challenge for Twos is focusing so much on helping others in order to be loved that they never help themselves. An integrated Two will have learned how important self-care and self-love are. Twos move towards an Eight when they are in Stress/Disintegration and move towards a Four in Health/Integration. Find out more about Twos HERE.

  1. The Performer

 

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Threes believes that the path toward being loved is paved through success and accomplishments. Image is incredibly important to Threes. They literally believe that if they perform well enough then they can make themselves lovable. They are extremely driven and can be quite charismatic. They are able to assess a situation or a room of people and figure out what/who they need to be in order to be seen in the greatest light. Because of this, Threes are known to be able to put on many different masks depending on the situation or context that they are in, which makes it difficult to actually know who the real Three is. They have a competitive drive that makes them want to win at all costs. An integrated, healthy Three has the power to do an incredible amount of good in the world. Threes move towards Nine in Stress/Disintegration and move to Six in Health/Integration. Find out more about Threes HERE.

  1. The Romantic

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Authenticity is what Fours crave. They need something real and meaningful. They are always seeking and searching for something more, something deeper, something more momentous. They want their life to have meaning and their relationships to have meaning. In their need for more, they can have a tendency to be jealous, seeing what others have and being upset or disappointed that they don’t have it too. “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence” can often be their mentality. In disintegration they can come off as self-absorbed and dramatic, but in health they can be incredibly empathetic, creative, and real. Fours are deeply in touch with their feelings. In Stress/Disintegration Fours move toward the Two and in Health/Integration they move towards the One. Find out more about Fours HERE.

  1. The Observer

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Fives have a tendency to live their lives inside their head. They are detail oriented and information driven. In many ways they fear the experience of the world and the pain that it can cause, so they build walls of protection by withdrawing into their mind. The more information, statistics, and details they have, the more they feel that they are in control. Others might feel that Fives are disconnected from the world, over-analytical, and overly private, especially when in stress. If Fives let you into their lives and into their world, it is a great honor and privilege. In Stress/Disintegration Fives move towards the Seven and in Health/Integration they move towards the Eight. Find out more about Fives HERE.

  1. The Loyalist

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A little bit like the Five, the Sixes find safety living in their head. Sixes, who are also called Skeptics, have a deep distrust of the world and find the world to be dangerous. They question everything and seek certainty. Safety and security are their number one concern. Because of their distrust, they tend to question authority. Even though the Six might doubt and distrust you, they are people you can trust and develop deep friendships with. They are great problem solvers, but can be perceived as controlling and challenging. In Stress/Disintegration Sixes move toward the Three and in Health/Integration they move towards the Nine. Find out more about Sixes HERE.

  1. The Enthusiast

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The Seven is all about living life to the fullest. They believe that life should be lived and experienced through positivity and with as little pain and drama as possible. They have an extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and are constantly looking forward to the next adventure or experience. The problem is, this often causes them to miss out on the present, because they are so worried about the future. The idea of being bored might be their biggest fear. Sevens, especially in stress, can come off as self-serving and unable to commit to anything. Yet having a healthy Seven as a friend or loved one is a gift, because they will take you on adventures you never dreamed of. The Stressed/Disintegrated Seven moves toward the One, while in Health/Integration they move towards Five. Find out more about Sevens HERE.

  1. The Challenger

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Eights find protection and safety in power and strength. They exude confidence and use conflict as a way of communicating their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Conflict is not a negative experience for Eights, but simply a form of expression. They have strong feelings and beliefs and have no problems pushing those who they disagree with. They are direct and focused on action. They do not like to be controlled and will fight for others if they are being unjustly controlled. Eights can come off as being impulsive, stubborn, and difficult to work with. However, Eights also are able to advocate and get things done in ways that the other could only imagine. If an Eight is on your side, you will have an advocate and friend who will work tirelessly for you. If an Eight is against you…look out! Eights move towards Five in Stress/Disintegration and towards Two in Health/Integration. Find out more about Eights HERE.

  1. The Peacemaker (my number)

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Harmony is the goal of every Nine. Mostly inner harmony, but in order to have inner harmony they need outer harmony. Conflict is the Nines’ greatest fear, because of this Nines avoid conflict at all costs. This usually leads to Nines being agreeable, easy-going, go-with-the-flow type of people, because they don’t want to rock the boat. If someone else has a strong opinion Nines will generally defer to them. Nines have the gift of seeing all sides and can empathize with everyone. They are inclusive and want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable. A healthy Nine holds great power, in that they are able to relate to everyone yet they also have a great understanding of themselves. A disintegrated Nine will most likely be unable to tell you who they are or what they believe. They are so busy appeasing others they have no idea who they are themselves. Nines move towards Six in Stress/Disintegration and move towards Three in Health/Integration. Find out more about Nines HERE.

 

There is my very brief overview of the nine numbers of the Enneagram. What number resonates with you?

©Derek Harkins 2018

Why are you afraid? – Part 3 of 3 on Fear

(The following is a poem I wrote while reflecting on Fear and Jesus’ response to the disciples in Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calmed the storm. It is the final post in the 3 part series. You can find post 1 HERE and post 2 HERE)

Why are you afraid?

Why are you afraid of change?
Do you not know that I, the one who can calm even the sea, will be with you through it all?

Why are you afraid of giving up your privilege and power?
Do you not know that the last will be first and the first will be last?

Why are you afraid of ‘Those people?’ People of Color? Women? LGBTQ people? Muslim people? Atheist people? Immigrant people? Refugee people?
Do you not know that they are your sisters and brothers, my children, whom I love deeply?

Why are you afraid of losing your present life, your possessions, your money, your security, your lifestyle?
Do you not know that in me you will find real life?

Why are you afraid of failure?
Do you not know that I have already forgiven you?

Why are you afraid of death?
Do you not know that I conquered death?

Why are you afraid?

I am with you.

I love you.

You are mine.

Peace. Be. Still. 

©2018 Derek Harkins

 

 

Reaching Out – Part 2 of 3 on Fear

(If you didn’t catch Part 1 of this series check it out here)

Fear has the power to overtake us.

In fact, I think more than anything what our country and our world is dealing with today is an epidemic of fear. It’s a virus that has infected us all. Everywhere I look I just see fear – the news, the Internet, television, billboards, social media…the most fearful place I experience regularly is Facebook. Even the speech that I hear us speak towards one another is full of fear, and it is no longer just in private that we hold these conversations with one another, but I hear them spoken out loud in public.

Just the other day while at a workshop on migration and refugees, I experienced a scene where a woman got offended by the presenter. The woman stood up and began to berate the presenter, quite literally yelling at her in the middle of this public forum with 20 other people looking on. She gave the presenter a two-minute ‘dressing down.’ This woman was angry, but, underneath it all, I believe she was filled to the brim with fear. After her ‘speech,’ the presenter thanked her for sharing her opinion and then tried to engage her in dialogue. Not even one sentence into the presenter’s response, the woman walked out of the room, not allowing for any dialogue or conversation, even as many of us in the room were calling for her to stay and engage in conversation. I have to add that this was a church sponsored workshop. Everyone there belonged to the same church denomination. The church most certainly is not immune to this fear, but it actually perpetuates fear in a very real way. Sadly, this experience is not rare. I believe we are getting conditioned towards experiencing these types of interactions. They are becoming normal.

Everywhere I look everything is saturated in fear. Fear of change. Fear of the other. Fear of losing oneself. Fear for our families, our loved ones, our country. Fear of changing ideals. Fear of losing power, status, and position. And this fear binds us.

It makes us small.

We retreat inside of ourselves thinking we will be safe inside the fortified walls of our box that we have fashioned. And we think as long as we keep everything out that we will be safe and secure. Stronger borders do not create safer people, just as more guns do not create more security. Not only does it create an environment that threatens real safety and security, but it imprisons us. It is living bound by fear.

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And the fear is choking us.

It is boiling over. Do you know what fear boiling over creates?

Hate.

Fear creates hate, plain and simple. We entrench ourselves so deeply that we dehumanize the other and hate arises. The truth is that it has gotten so out of hand that we cannot even have civil conversation anymore let alone debates about issues that truly matter. Not in families, not in classrooms, not in churches, and certainly not in public spaces without hate being spewed from every side. Honestly, as a 9, it makes it almost impossible for me to want to try to have a substantive conversation, because I know it will lead to some conflict.

We are so incredibly polarized today.  It isn’t that having differing ideas or opinions is bad. That isn’t it at all. We are all unique, with unique perspectives and experiences that make us who we are in this moment, at this time. We could learn so much from one another if we could only have a conversation. But we cannot even have a conversation. No dialogue. No learning. No growing. The only thing I see happening is entrenchment.

Our fear dictates our beliefs and opinions, and it’s perpetuated by the advertising and media we surround ourselves with. We entrench deeper and deeper until we can no longer recognize someone with a differing perspective as a human being. Our walls and defenses are firmly in place, and the ‘other’ has been designated an enemy. So instead of engaging with someone that thinks differently than we do, we attack. We use anything we can to tear down their personhood and their being. It leads to the injustices and sins that are Racism, Sexism, Classism, Homophobia, and on and on. We degrade our fellow human beings by hurling slurs and insults at them, tearing them down both verbally and physically. We tear them down in order to, what – build ourselves up? Justify our own personhood? Make ourselves feel more human or more worthy? Some of that is true, but the root of it all, in my opinion, is…

Fear.

If we engage with the other, we might change. Our views might change. Our opinions might change. My being might change. Who I think I am might change. The constructs that I have found my self-worth and identity in might change, and then what?! Who am I then?! Change is damn scary!

And so we entrench…further and further.

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We see the results all around us. The polarization is everywhere. Left/Right. Democrat/Republican. Gay/Straight. Black/White. Citizen/Refugee. Old/Young. Baby Boomer/Millennial. Christian/Muslim. The results are a maze of walls that we have constructed in order to keep human beings who are different away from us.

Unless we can find a way to truly see one another from the commonality that we are ALL beloved creatures, it will only get worse. And that is my fear. A real fear. I fear for my children. I fear for the church. I fear for the country. I fear for the world. It paralyzes me. How do we move forward? Is there a way?

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One step at a time.

If we can summon our courage and open our fortified gates, lower the drawbridge, and step forward out of our box towards the other, I have hope. If we can have true conversations and dialogue with people who disagree that doesn’t end in shouting matches and belittling one another, I have hope. If we can begin to build relationships with others who look, act, believe, and think differently than we do, I have hope.

Fear cannot be conquered by retreating towards the safety of the known. Fear cannot be overcome by entrenching ourselves trying to feel safe and secure. Fear can only be defeated by stepping forward, towards that which you fear – recognizing that fear, owning that fear, claiming that fear, and then stepping forward telling that fear…

You will control me no longer!!

We need to be a people that builds bridges, sisters and brothers, not walls. Jesus was a bridge builder, THE bridge builder. If I have learned anything from Jesus, it’s that bridges are not built with fear, hate, judgment, or condemnation. Bridges are built with love, humility, grace, mercy, and service. Bridges are built through relationships. Bridges are built by stepping forward, reaching out, and openly embracing the unknown. Bridges are built when we are open to change.

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(This is the second of a three part series on Fear. You can find part 1 HERE)

©2018 Derek Harkins

Stepping Forward – Part 1 of 3 on Fear

I am learning to step into my fear – to move forward through it.

My initial instinct when I begin to feel fear is to stop whatever is causing the fear – to move backward away from it.

Maybe if I bury it deep enough, it will just go away and disappear. This is what I hope anyways…that the fear will dissipate into nothingness, and I will be free to go about my business. I just need to ignore it and wait it out – wait for it to subside.

This is how fear paralyzes.

We won’t allow ourselves to engage it – to step forward into the fear. Instead we retreat and hope that it will just go away. Retreating gives us the desired result. The fear does subside. It is the quick, easy fix.

Ahhh…but it isn’t a fix, is it, sisters and brothers?

No.

When we retreat from our fear or bury it, we actually become imprisoned by it. By trying to control it and manage it, we actually are the ones who are being controlled and managed by the fear. It prevents us from moving forward where we feel we are called to go. It holds us bound where we are, or worse yet, it drives us backwards where we came from.

I am convinced that we are called forward in life.

The movement of life should always be forward – it should always be growth. Life is a movement forward…forward in personal growth and development, forward in faith, forward in questions and knowledge, forward in our relationships, forward in maturity and depth, forward continually. Each day should be a day of growth and learning.

Fear prohibits growth and questioning. Fear constricts. It builds walls. Fear chokes life and makes us small. It makes our minds small. It makes our hearts small. It makes our spirits small. It makes our very being small. When we shrink from our fear and retreat, we retreat inside of a box – a fortification that we think might keep us safe. In order to keep the fear out and at bay, we build our walls higher. We reinforce the gate so that it might not be breached. We may even dig a moat around our box, entrenching ourselves even more. When we really allow fear to take over we not only build defenses, but we start building offenses – tools to attack with. Tools we use to attack our fears. Tools we use to attack those whom we fear. Anything that will help keep our fear at bay.

“What is my greatest fear?” you might ask.

Nothingness.

I don’t know when I first started having the thoughts…I must have been 5 or 6 years old, maybe younger. I remember lying in bed trying to go to sleep as a child. I remember the thoughts would creep slowly into my consciousness.  I would begin to wonder what would happen if I went to sleep and never woke up. What would happen if I died in my sleep? I would feel the fear begin to creep into my stomach. And then my mind would imagine what death would be like. My mind would start to race and doubts would creep in – doubts that would not go away. What if I don’t go to heaven? What if I am not worthy to be in heaven? What if there is no heaven? And then the big question would drop upon my being like an anchor pulling me down into the depths of the ocean struggling for oxygen…

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What if God is not real? 

What if there is no God? This question would fall upon me and suffocate me. I could feel the panic start to rise into my chest as I lay there thinking about dying, and how all that I am would in an instant be…

Nothing.

Writing this, I can feel that familiar fear creep into my being as I allow myself to confront this fear…to step into it. A fear that I kept buried deep inside for years. A fear that I have kept secret for my entire life. I grew up going to church. Faith and believing in God was important to not only my family, but to my community, the society and culture I was raised in. It is still a societal expectation to not only believe in God, but to be a Christian. 30 years ago, it was simply a given. I sensed from a very young age that such questions or thoughts would not be welcome in the community, or at the very least they would be brushed off and not allowed to have space. And honestly, I was lucky. I grew up with some amazing pastors and a church that loved me and cared for me deeply. This is not a knock on them. The reality was that you are to believe what the pastor says at face value. You are to believe what your Sunday School teachers teach you at face value.

Why?

Just because.

No matter how old you are, whether you are 5 or 95, we all know that “Just because…” is not a sufficient answer. “I don’t know,” is a far more satisfying answer than “Just because…” or “Because the Bible says so.”  At least being honest and stating, “I don’t know, that’s a great question,” keeps the conversation open and allows for more seeking and greater depth to be found.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I love scripture and have grown to love the compilation of books, stories, letters, songs, and poetry that we call The Holy Bible. At times it has been a love/hate, hate/love relationship. It has been a struggle and a journey for me and continues to be so. Honestly, I think that is a healthy relationship with scripture…

Scripture is something to be wrestled with.

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That is my problem with the argument, “Because the Bible says so.” It ends the conversation and discussion. Just like answering a question with “Just because…” ends the conversation. There is no engagement. No conversation. No learning. No creativity. No relationship or dialogue.

And so, I wouldn’t engage. I would not step forward into my fear, but I would retreat within myself. Yes, I feared the conflict that would arise if I openly confessed my doubts and fears. There is no doubt about that. But even more than that fear of being judged or condemned by my community, honestly, I feared engaging my fear, because…

It might be true.

So, I began to build my box. I built and fortified it by saying and doing the right things. By pushing my doubts down – by trying my hardest to bury them.

There have been moments where I stepped into those doubts and fears. Looking back on my life I can see them. Subconsciously, I think following my calling into ministry may have been a way I was trying to ease the fear, or perhaps God was calling me into my fear. I sought answers. I wanted certainty and truth. What better way to find the truth than to immerse yourself in the study of God? (This is incredibly funny to me now, in a sick sort of way, as my experience has taught me that the more I seek the more questions I have.) I went against some advice I received while discerning my call, that if I wanted to be a pastor, maybe I shouldn’t major in religion for my undergraduate studies, because I would get enough religious education at seminary. Instead, I moved forward majoring in religion, mostly because I needed to continue to engage my questions, and to know whether I could fully step into my calling as a pastor or not. Is there a place in the church for me as a leader? What in the world do I actually believe?

It was the best decision of my life, simply because of one book that I was assigned to read in a Christian Theology class. I mean there were other amazing things about my undergraduate experience. It changed and shaped me in ways I am still finding out and I am incredibly grateful for that experience. But all of it would have been worth it just for this one book…the rest was a bonus! (An expensive bonus! Ha!) I remember vividly, sitting in the basement of Luther College’s Preus Library, at a cubicle reading through a book for an assignment.  The book was Paul Tillich’s Dynamics of Faith. In that book, I remember reading the section where Tillich explains that doubt is not only good, but that it is necessary for faith. That doubt is a necessary component to our faith being able to grow. As I read that, something unlocked deep within my being…a sigh of relief. I could breath. Perhaps there was a place for me.

I found some peace within myself at that point. However, I still would not allow myself to fully engage my fear. I still kept my deepest questions buried and secret. I tried not to engage them with all of my being. And now I felt the added pressure of being on the path towards becoming a pastor, and a few years later I was now a pastor. A pastor should not have these questions or doubts? And if they do, they certainly shouldn’t be open about them, right?! As a result, the moment I would feel that old feeling creep up into my heart and throat I would shove it back down, and move in another direction.

You see, that’s the thing with fear…It never goes away.

Unless you step into it. You have to face it. Engage it. Dwell in it. Burying our fear, or ignoring it keeps us stuck. It imprisons us, and holds us back.

So, even while I feel the fear clenching at my heart and choking my breath, I will step forward. I will engage it. And that means being open about it. Being honest about it with myself and with others.

And while that scares me – actually terrifies me – it also gives me life. I am energized and excited about the journey. It is liberating, quite literally, to unbury the fear and not let it control me anymore. Honestly, I feel healthier spiritually and stronger in my relationship with God, now more than ever before. God can handle my questions and my doubts.

So, I step forward.

What is the fear that imprisons you and keeps you from living the life you desire? Can you take a step forward into your fear, no matter how small of a step it may be? Step forward, sisters and brothers. Step forward into life.

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(This is the first of a three-part series on Fear. You can find part 2 HERE)

© 2018 Derek Harkins