The Very Thing People Love You For is Killing You

I spent the good part of an entire workday canvasing every inch of KC. It was mid-December and I had Christmas gifts to drop off to our local clients.

Lucky for me and luckier for our business friends, I’m married to a great gift-giver. We loaded my truck with 18 beautifully adorned gift bags, and I hit the road.

I’m on a podcast kick lately and I’m especially fascinated with the show Typology. I read the host’s book “Road Back to You” and became hooked with his material.

It’s a look at the Enneagram typing system. If you haven’t heard of it, think personality test but way better. And way more meaningful to the fluid and dynamic nature we all have.

Out of 7 billion people in the world, it seems hard to imagine a tool can identify 9 core types of people, but it seems to hit the nail right on the head more often than not.

Well, I guess I can’t speak for 7 billion, but I can speak for one. The things I’ve learned about myself after discovering my type nailed me down and made me see things I’d rather not have seen.

It’s a haunting reality actually.

Growing up churched, I heard and knew well the phrase “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I loved thinking about the wonderfully made conclusion of those four words, but until this past year-ish, I’ve enjoyed avoiding the fearful parts.

Or at least attempting to outrun them.

But it seems to be true that I’m both fearful and wonderful. Not all fearful. Or all wonderful. It’s very much both/and not either/or.

And the Enneagram pegs this reality. Sometimes I wish it hadn’t because the fearful part isn’t as wonderful to see. But it doesn’t make it less true.

The Typology podcast filled up my drive time that afternoon, and one quote from one of his guests shook me down deep. Like that chilling bone-rattling, how did he know, kind of shakes.

As he’s making his way through descriptions of the 9 types, Father Richard Rohr, a 75-year-old Franciscan priest, said “The very thing people love you for is killing you.”

I’m not sure about your experience, but for mine, that quote hit far too close to home.

He proposes that the very personality we throw on as early as 5 years old serves us through our 20’s, most of our 30’s and maybe into our 40’s. Lots of good comes from that personality, and lots of hurt too.

But then that personality begins (and must) break and we begin to see ourselves in a deeper way, a truer way.

We start to see how we’ve used the very best parts of us in wonderful ways. And in fearful ways.

And we must see how that covering, or in my case I’d even use the word mask, doesn’t serve us any longer.


For types like mine, we:

  • Smile and encourage – to bring joy AND to avoid pain
  • Get excited about many ideas – to fill the world with new possibilities AND to avoid settling deep into commitment
  • Rally massive amounts of people around us – to spark new ideas AND to keep from being intimately known
  • Are tremendous listeners to your hard situations – because we genuinely care for you AND we really just want to fix you and make you happy because pain hurts too bad
  • Chase new, interesting, fun, shiny, sometimes even fantasy opportunities – because we’re hardwired to find adventure AND sometimes because we are scared we don’t have answers to the real life right in front of us
  • Have endless amounts of energy – to breathe life into the mundane AND because we’d rather be distracted than sit in terrifying silence with our thoughts
  • Are incredibly optimistic and positive – because we see the life through glass half-full glasses AND because we desperately need you to love us and tell us we’re OK
  • Ask you so many questions about yourself that you’ll feel amazing when we’re done talking – in order for you to feel known AND because we’re relieved you didn’t ask much about us in case you didn’t like what you found out about us

It’s fearful really. And so wonderful. Our motives are mixed, at least mine are.

I’m a 7 on the Enneagram. I’m not defined by it. I’m a soul not a number. But my 7-ness is helping me to see in new ways.

And I don’t always like what I see. Most times, I wish the phrase was just “wonderfully made.”

I’m afraid I’m just starting to scratch the beautiful, terrifying surface…

Perhaps the mask had to be discarded to bring forth something new…or else the very thing people loved me for may have killed me.


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