How do you feel?

Jessica, my spouse, asked me Friday night after I published my first blog post, “Well Derek, how does it feel? How does it feel to finally get your blog started – to put yourself out there?”

Pretty sure my first reaction to that question was panic and horror. That’s always my first reaction to the question, “How do you feel?” Feeling usually leads to having opinions, which usually leads to action of some kind, and…well…you should know from just one post now that action can disrupt a 9’s harmony. Having opinions and feelings and then voicing them is a risky venture for a 9. The probability of conflict skyrockets. I suppose doing anything at all will cause the probability of conflict to rise, as opposed to doing, feeling, and voicing nothing. Which is why I often opt for the safer path – keep my mouth shut and my head down.

But I am trying not to do that.

I breathed deep and let out a nervous laugh as I tried to allow myself to ponder her question and engage it.

“I feel nervous and scared,” I finally responded.

I don’t know why I felt so bad for feeling that way either. In reflection, of course it is normal to feel nervous and scared when putting oneself out there for the world to see. I am trying to be open and honest, trying to find my true self and communicate that to others. I believe that this is an important part of my waking up. I am finding myself, who I really am. I need to be honest about that and sharing with others is a way that I can own and truly embody where I am at in my journey. So, yeah, that’s terrifying for me.

Ugh…I wish I had stayed asleep! Ha!

That was my first thought after creating my blog. Why am I doing this?! Why am I putting myself through this?!

It is necessary though. As much as my being cries out against doing the hard work of inner reflection and dealing with things in a healthy manner (as opposed to doing nothing which is my inclination), I know it is exactly that hard work that I must do – that I need to do.

So, after an hour or so of further inward turmoil, I decided to be vulnerable and share further with Jess.

“You know…I was pretty surprised by the amount of shame I felt rise up within me after hitting that ‘publish’ button. I sat there looking at my post thinking, ‘What are people going to think?’ I have been here before. I felt the shame from my past failures.”

I have tried to start blogs before…twice. I got them kicked off and then instead of engaging in the difficult work, I went back to sleep. To be fair, I had a different purpose in mind for my other blog. I was not at the place I am now. I was not ready to wake up, because I didn’t even realize at that point that I was asleep. While I recognize that  I am different now and this time feels very different to me, I still have a fear that this will end like the others…4-5 posts and then back into hibernation. And the shame I feel thinking about that sucks. But at least I know what I’m dealing with. I can name it and own it. Thanks to Brené Brown, especially her book Daring Greatly, I am able to understand what I am feeling and going through and begin to move past it.

Taking steps forward instead of backwards, no matter how small they may be, is the name of the game.

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As with anything in life, when making a change or transition we as human beings need support and accountability from others. Accountability is huge for 9’s. It helps us sustain momentum. It is hard for 9’s to get started and it’s incredibly easy for us to stop. Sustaining any sort of movement and momentum will be important for me. And that is probably the number one reason I will be writing about my journey and sharing it here.

As part of my own accountability I am going to post some ideas I have for future posts, in order to encourage myself to make future posts! So, in the future you might be seeing posts on:

  • A general overview of the Enneagram and what it is. A very brief description of each number.
  • A more in depth post on what it means to be an Enneagram 9, to not only help you know me better, but so that I can know myself better. Each time I write I find out something new about myself.
  • You will continue to find posts about my everyday life experiences when I feel moved to share them and reflect on them.
  • Posts about how my faith is changing, going through a deconstruction and renewal. Along these lines I will probably write a series of posts about the Bible and how scripture informs my journey and how changing how I read and approach scripture has caused my relationship with God to deepen.
  • Posts about my love for Science and the Universe and how it all works. Also, you will read plenty about how I think Science and Faith compliment one another.
  • Posts on spiritual practices, especially meditation, that I am finding incredibly useful.
  • I will probably be writing some book reviews. I have been reading a great deal and want to share the wonderful books I am reading with others.
  • At times I will also share some poetry, prayers, and liturgies. I probably won’t share my sermons here as they get posted elsewhere and are intended for the specific context that I serve.

Until next time, may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, be with you all.

© Derek Harkins 2018

Waking Up

Waking up is hard.

Waking up is painful and difficult. At least, if you are me it is. I know that for a lot of you blessed ‘morning people’ out there, you don’t have any problems waking up and getting out of bed. My middle child is one of your kind.  Let me just say this:

I don’t get you! 

How do you do it? Ha! I have had several jobs now that have forced me to get out of bed well before I wanted to. I can do it. I can. I can even come to enjoy it…

But only after I have actually swung my legs out of bed and wiped the sleep out of my eyes.  Those moments when my alarm clock is going off, and I snooze 5 times, is pure torture.  It is the war of all wars raging inside of me trying to get out of bed every morning.  My body and mind fighting with all of their might against their arch nemesis – Responsibility.

Yet, once I am up, coffee in hand, I do quite enjoy the morning.  There is a peace that can be found in waking up early that cannot be found at any other time.  I only have to conquer myself each and every morning to find that peace.

That is life though, isn’t it? And not just life, but a life of depth, purpose, and meaning.  A spiritual life of any kind, I am finding, will be conquering myself each and every day to find that peace. A certain someone said something along the lines of, “If you lose your life you will find it.” Oh, that’s right…Jesus! We must die to self in order to have life.

Wake up!

These are words that have not only been emblazoned on my heart and my very being the last couple of months, but they are a mantra – a way of life for me now.  I am currently in a state of waking up.  My eyes are opening.  It is painful and everything in my being is fighting against this awakening.

Why?

Because change awaits.  I am a human being. If there is one thing that human beings have in common, it is the engrained resistance to change.

I believe we all need and experience awakenings in our lives, no matter what your number is. However, as an Enneagram 9, my resistance towards waking up is a little more complicated. 9’s are often called Peacemakers.  We are called peacemakers because everything in our being cries out against conflict. Conflict makes us uncomfortable and pained. 9’s are all about keeping and restoring our inner and outer harmony.  If the outer harmony is thrown out of whack, our first instinct as 9’s isn’t to resolve that conflict, but to retreat within what other 9’s call our Inner Sanctum. The sanctuary that we have built inside ourselves to hold our own inner harmony together. It is this harmony that 9’s try to sustain at all costs, and change is the number one way to throw harmony into dissonance. So what is our primary defense against the dissonance created by conflict?

SLEEP.

Figurative and literal sleep. 9’s in times of deep conflict and change can just fall asleep.  Not only can they, but they actually do just fall asleep.  Sometimes in the middle of the conversation or disagreement. Our body literally shuts down trying to sustain the harmony we hold so dear.  We will also figuratively fall asleep to keep the harmony.  Our being will actually appear to leave our bodies, but in reality we just go inside of ourselves to our Inner Sanctum.  9’s are very good at continuing conversations without actually being present.  I don’t say this to brag.  I believe it is a downfall of 9’s.  It is a survival mechanism. We will hold entire conversations without actually being present. If you are married to a 9 or have a 9 child or friend, you will know exactly what I am talking about, because you have probably seen this happen in the middle of an argument or conversation. Knowing this now grieves me in many ways, because it not only happens in conversations or conflict, but we can be asleep for life itself.

This is my reality I find myself in now. I am just now waking up. I have been stirred. My alarm is going off. The beams of the morning light are breaking through my eyelids.  My Inner Sanctum has been disturbed.

My being is awakening. 

My instinct is to pull the covers over my head and try my hardest to go back to sleep, but something inside of me cries out and will not allow it. Not this time. Not anymore.  I have been asleep for far too long. Something is different this time. I can’t just retreat. I am being stirred and shaken.  It is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Perhaps that is why I am being drawn to write, to document my journey of waking up…because I don’t want to go back to sleep.  Writing and speaking the reality – the pain, joys, progress, and failures – will give me accountability, something I know I need in order to not fall back asleep.

This is my journey of waking up.

© Derek Harkins 2018