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Inner Sanctum

Adam and Eve had to be 9s. I can’t prove it but their entire lives, both positively and negatively, fit the definition of what it means to be an Enneagram Nine. I will let you make your own connections, but they were charged with making “peace” on earth, “walked with God in the cool of the day” (as only a 9 can do), and were deeply “afraid” of disconnection.

“…So they sowed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves…”

“I was afraid because I was naked so I hid…”

I’ve written and preached a lot out of Genesis, particular Genesis 1-3. In fact it is for me the birthplace of all injustice, where all pain and separation was first felt – where all was whole and then all was broken. As I’ve sat more with these passages I’ve started to see them as a window into my own life as an Enneagram Nine, the type they call the Peacemaker.

As a Nine, separation is my base fear, the thing which can drive my most basic choices, and if there is one thing Genesis 3 could be synthesized into it would be the fruit of utter separation.

Once sin enters the garden, we see the humans fashion fig leaved clothes to separate themselves and each other from their exposed bodies and they hide behind trees to separate themselves from God. For the Nine this place of separation and disconnection is known as the Inner Sanctum. It is the place we Nines go to protect himself – to disconnect from the disconnection he so deeply fears. Personally, I will disconnect from others before they have a chance to disconnect from me.

The other sign and symptom of the inner sanctum for Nines (personally speaking) is the tendency to externalize shame. Sure, I’ll cover myself in fig leaves and hide from all life has to offer but I will also blame someones else for my doing so. This will often look like a dripping cynicism, projections and judgements about others and arbitrary stiff-arming of those I love and those who love me. The inner sanctum allows me to disown my shame and sling it at someone else I want to hide from. Adam and Even slung their shame at each other and then at the serpent and I often carry their torch.

What My Inner Sanctum Looks Like?

Ironically, as I write this, I am actually sitting in a monastery cathedral or sanctu-ary. It is peaceful, there is a stream running somewhere which reminds me of the grace of God. Light is breaking through the windows and there is plenty of open space to walk, pray and simply be present.

What I’m experiencing now is why I could not, for the longest time, understand my inner sanctum and why I struggled to fully identify as a dominate Nine. I thought, “If the Nine goes to the inner sanctum and that sanctum is like this cathedral, then I must not be a Nine.”

About three years ago I was doing some healing work with my PTSD at a men’s retreat. The work involved recreating and reimagining my trauma in a healthy way that offered support and possibilities for new perspectives and a new way of living. During this exercise I was invited to create a fortress to represent my constant state of “fuck you.” I pulled the chairs into a tight circle, stepped up and began walking around on top of the seat cushions swinging a Fisher Price baseball bat at all my enemies I felt I need to defend myself against.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I had a realization. My inner sanctum is not a pristine cathedral, but it is like this chair fortress – a war-zone where I can seclude myself from all that is good and bad about life and be numb to relationships and fight off anyone who comes close.

My inner sanctum is a place of scarcity – scarcity of time, money, love, people, faithfulness. It is the generator and sustainer of my shame, the genesis of my arbitrary irritation and cynicism toward people and their intentions. Within my inner sanctum I compete for the simplest and most abundant of resources.

Honestly, I’m just figuring out these inner sanctum connections and so much of my work here is not to seek to avoid the inner sanctum but to be aware of when I go into it. After all, it is often the things we are unaware of which drive our lives, so practicing awareness gives me an opportunity to make choices that help me step into deeper healing.

How Do We Heal?

I don’t think the inner sanctum is just a Nine problem. It is also not just an individual problem, it’s communal, it’s global, historical, biblical, as old as Genesis 3. It’s why we segregate, why we wall off others we fear.

How do we heal the inner sanctum? How do we lay down the baseball bat and step down from the chair? How can our inner fortress cease being a place of war and be transformed into a place of rest and revitalization? I think it starts with doing the one thing the inner sanctum desires to avoid. I believe we must let people in.

I don’t believe Christ will zap our inner sanctum with healing and new life – healing is not magical but relational. We must let people in if we want to heal. We are the presence of Christ in this world, the “sanctum” of the Holy Spirit for one another.

We heal by allowing God to see us in our shame – to see us in all the ways we didn’t let him see us in the garden. God called to the first humans, “Where are you?” and when he asked this very connective question those humans decided to disconnect, maybe out of this fear of disconnection.

But we don’t have to do that. We can let Christ and our neighbors in. We can be seen as we are and we can be loved there too. Healing in this way only comes when we allow ourselves to be loved in the places we refuse to be loved. It will feel like searing pain, a bitter pill, salt in the wound, but be assured, this is the cross of Christ, the narrow way of the gospel which leads to life, love and connection.


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