Friday, November 16, 2018


I read the following words this morning:

“I’ve been a list maker since I was a kid; that’s when it started, I realize now. I never appreciated what I accomplished each day, I only felt frustrated by what was left undone. Undone of course being the perfect work for my mental state related to my list-making habit. I am constantly undone by being undone…Our lives – as a couple, as a family – have always been governed by my dissatisfaction implosions. The lists were simply an attempt to supply answers to my endless questions: Was this my life? What was my next move? Why is this house so small? Is this all there is?”

They were published in a random book I grabbed off the shelf at the library, entitled “Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words,” by Kimberly Harrington. At first it was the book’s aqua cover and picture of a cute pink contraption spewing hearts skyward that drew me. (My husband informs me the cute pink thing is a grenade; I thought it was a perfume bottle. Nevertheless.) But let’s be honest, it was the catchy title that made me toss the book in my bag. I’m feeling angsty in my mothering life of late and it seemed right to read the words of someone who, at least in title, wasn’t about to mince words.

I don’t know this author from Adam and so, the last thing I was expecting was for her words to crack me open this morning. Suddenly, it felt like someone had been spying on my life and taking notes and now I was reading back to me what they saw. I didn’t like her critical attitude. It hit too close to home. And her descriptive use of “dissatisfaction implosions” left an especially personal sting.

I am a Type One on the Enneagram and my hunch is that the author of this book is too. (PSA: Have you heard of the Enneagram? This is a brash oversimplification but it’s an ancient personality typing model of sorts - if you haven’t yet explored it, be prepared to fall into a wonderful black hole of information). Type Ones are also known as “Reformers” and, according to The Enneagram Institute (, they are “conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience.”

That’s a lot of words for saying I have constant eyes for how things could be improved – which can be both a rich blessing and extreme curse.

The site goes on to say that when Ones are at their healthiest, they are said to be capable of becoming “extraordinarily wise and discerning, inspiring, and hopeful. Their sense of responsibility, personal integrity, and of having a higher purpose often make them teachers and witnesses to the truth.” I would summarize that to say they are truth-tellers.


When they are unhealthy, Ones are dissatisfied with reality, they become idealists, “feeling that it is up to them to improve everything. They become orderly and well-organized, but impersonal, puritanical, emotionally constricted, rigidly keeping their feelings and impulses in check. Highly critical both of self and others: picky, judgmental, perfectionistic. Impatient, never satisfied with anything unless it is done according to their prescriptions.”

Ouch! Hit home much? Dissatisfaction implosions.

There have been times recently when I have felt like I hit some of the healthier points of my personality potential. Like last week for instance. I was working on a talk I will be giving to my Bible study group in December about expectant waiting. My plan was to talk about our areas of deep longings and places of hurt, those places where we are waiting for Christ to move and provide healing and reconciliation and redemption. I was piecing together bits of my own journey through hard times and painful seasons and I felt inspired and excited and, wait for it, even hopeful, with what God gave me to share. I was going to teach! I was going to be a truth-teller!

My word for this year has been “hope.” There have been so many moments where I have felt “Hey. I think I might be getting somewhere. Maybe I’m healing!” After a long season of waiting, I was more than ready to box up some of my broken bits and catalog them on a shelf with a “no longer an issue” stamp across the front.

Yet inevitably, it seems, these hopeful moments are quickly followed by long stretches of discouragement and frustration. One week I am gripping the cheeks of my husband saying, “DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE FOR CHANGE,” and the next week I’m sob-praying as I run through the neighborhood, “I don’t think change is possible. I feel no difference. I’m getting nowhere. I give up!” Like the author of my book, I feel undone but the undone-ness.

On the tails of preparing my talk on waiting with hope, all I feel is slashed with discouragement, overwhelmed by my feelings of deep sadness. I’m back to screaming “WHERE ARE YOU GOD IN ALL THIS? Why am I still hurting? Why don’t I feel more hopeful?”

If I’m taking all my pills and exercising for endorphins, why am I still depressed?

If I’m working on viewing myself as fearfully and wonderfully made, why do I still loathe my body so?

If we’re doing all this hard work in our marriage, why do I still feel lonely?

If I’m working so hard on my thought life, why do I so often find myself at the bottom of a shame spiral?

Are my expectations too high? Is this just life? Is what I’m feeling yet another “dissatisfaction implosion”?

While I (obviously) don’t have the answer to all these hard and tender questions, I was made aware of one, blaring, gaping, painful hole in my faith life. Recently, when posed with the question, “When have you been especially aware of the love Christ has for you?” I came up empty. I literally could not identify a time where I felt completely, entirely, wholly accepted and loved by God. Though I would preach God’s incredible love to everyone around me until the cows come home, I haven’t been able to fully accept it for myself. I know my ugly. I see my mess. I track my failures. And I’m ashamed. And so, I have been disqualifying myself. I’ve erected a buffer around myself in self-protection. Because I fail to meet my own bar (perfection), I opt myself out of fully receiving the relentless, never-ending, totally-covering love God has for me.

Those are some tough words to type and even tougher words to swallow. But here is what I know: until I can truly accept Christ’s deep love for me, His grace for my ugly, complete healing cannot happen. And so, even in my undone-ness and pain, I am choosing to meditate on His unfailing love.

I will end with these beautiful words from Zephaniah 3:17:

“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

posted by kelsie