Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Cup of Quietness: What I learned about my wife from the Enneagram

One of the highlights of our Sabbatical last summer was being walked through our Enneagram profiles with our friends, Nick and Kim Bogardus. The Enneagram is a personality profile that has a particular interest in how people function relationally. Enneagram is quite the thing at the moment.  But I think it's a thing for a reason. It doesn't just analyze your personality. It shows you how you relate to people when you're under stress versus when you're not under stress. 

Nick and Kim use the Enneagram course with Cross Point, which focuses on how Christ can transform us to relate with health towards others within our unique personality design. They're close friends of ours, but they're also trained to coach married couples to be a more effective team through the Enneagram. We so appreciated their insight and skill as they coached us to understand ourselves and each other better. 

Now I don't want to bore you with our complex Enneagram profiles, but Rynelle is a high 9, which stands for The Peaceful Person. A high value for this person is maintaining an environment of peace. Among others, I am a high 3, which stands for The Effective Person.  A high value for this person is getting things done. We are both high 4's, which means we connect through a love for beauty and aesthetics. The problem is though, that my high 3 means that I don't savor beauty at the same place as my peaceful wife. For instance, we both love going to a beautiful restaurant to eat beautifully prepared food, but because I'm a 3, I'll gobble mine down in order to get on to the next course. Rynelle, rightfully so, will want to savor the ambience and every mouthful slowly,  repeatedly telling me to, 'Slow down, we've got nothing to rush to.' 

And as if that weren't bad enough, my high 3 generally has a bit of a  honey-do-list, especially when it comes to pastoral matters. "Have you called this person, love? Have you managed to see that person? How are things going for the ladies retreat? Would you mind doing the devotional at staff meeting tomorrow?" I also tend to invite people over spontaneously quite a bit, which means Rynelle has to scramble into hospitality mode at short notice. Because we are both 4's, we never want to host with paper plates and plastic cutlery either. It must be aesthetic. I didn't understand why my gracious and gentle wife was starting to dig in her heels. 

What I didn't realize was that in the quest to try and make her more effective, I was robbing her of the  thing she craved most: peace.  Nick and Kim's counsel to me was profound. "You take care of the environment of your home, making sure it's a place of peace, and Rynelle will be more effective than ever." This was one of my pledges to her coming back from sabbatical, and honestly it's proven to be true. Plus, we feel like we've found us again, not just functioning side -by-side, but connecting face-to-face. So thankful for wise friends and for Jesus who continues to renew us.  

So, on our 24th anniversary this week, I wrote her a short poem about my pledge to celebrate and honor her as an Enneagram 9.

                  A Cup of Quietness

A cup of quietness, is better than two cups full of toil,
Your hands of kindness, lifting me up from the thorn-choked soil, 
Poured the water over, when I got burned by the midnight oil,
A cup of quietness, is better than two cups full of toil. 

A cup of quietness, early in the morning through the porch window,
That’s the way I love you, sitting in the light of heaven’s glow,
A steadied beauty, ready with grace for the high and low,
Your cup of quietness, I’m fighting for the day that it overflows. 


  1. Loved reading this Alan, thank you for sharing your life and thoughts.❤️