Meeting for the first time Cara was expecting her second child in a matter of weeks and yet, still full of contagious enthusiasm. Please welcome my fellow Redbud Writer Cara Meredith this week and stop by her site http://carameredith.com!
We drove up Great Highway on Sunday morning, sideways rain streaming down our windows, across the hood of the car, pelting the roof. Parking on 35th Avenue was a beast, not so much driven by lack of space to park within a block or two, but by toddler and baby, diaper bag, purse, car seat and the moon-shaped umbrella we hoped would cover us all.
But sometimes you just do what you have to do.
Arms heavy with baby and bags, my head tilted upward, neck falling into its cozy base. Eyes closed, almost by automated force, and rain trailed down my face like tears. I let the water wash over my outsides, soothing and calming and healing the tension that had gripped me mere minutes before.
And then I stopped, breathing in the smells of the storm, the grass and the pavement and the way the city smells when it’s getting a bath.
Before we knew it we were inside, shedding layers, hugging our people. Together, we looked like a mass of drowned rats, (all deathly idioms aside), huddling, squeaking, squirming, into each other’s business. So we burrowed into one another, as we should, as are called to do when Love is part of the equation.
There was a buzz in the air, because that particular day at house church we weren’t necessarily singing songs, and we weren’t listening and learning and discussing in our already non-traditional, traditional sense. But we were gleaning wisdom from a woman who taught us more about ourselves through the Enneagram.
In the Enneagram, there are nine personality types, all of which are interconnected and can be examined through a Christian lens. I am a Seven, “The Enthusiast” and the joyful one. I am the playful and spirited individual who can often become unbridled in her enthusiasm, over extending myself, becoming undisciplined at my worst. My husband is a Five, “The Investigator” and the wise one. He is an insightful and curious thinker, one who thrives with alone time, but can become detached and intense in unhealthy situations.
As we sat in Mark and Lisa’s living room, tumbling into entry way and dining room and staircase too, that clinging to each other like drowned rats we’d done mere minutes before became that much tighter. Our heads nodded and our eyes glistened with tears, because, we said, of ourselves and of our families and of this community, how much stronger will we be together if we really, actually know one another’s divinely given, innately understood personality type.
I suppose all of us had different Ah ha! moments, different realizations as to why we react the way we react, and live the way that we live, and even love the way that we love. Ever the optimists, Sevens are glass half-full type of people. We grab life by the horns, believing the coined phrase, “Live, Love, Laugh” was written just for us.
As Debbie, our Enneagram leader and consultant, led us that morning, I thought back to various instances in my life: once, when presented with dire financial matters in the non-profit organization I was a director for, my response was laughter. Not because the situation was funny – because it wasn’t, at all – but because at that time in my life I didn’t know how to embrace the potential pain that ran alongside a scary situation. Additionally, as a teenager, I’d spend the day riding roller coasters at Six Flags, not screaming as was the customary response to seemingly death-defying gravitational pulls, but (again) keeling over with laughter.
Just as Sevens emanate joy, we sometimes overdo the “joy” side of our personalities in an effort to avoid pain. We don’t want to get hurt, so we laugh. We don’t want to see darkness, so we overcompensate with light.
And this is not always a bad thing, because the world – and, according to our little community that day, the Church at large – needs our joy. The world needs our sunshine, for they need to see the joyous side of Life, of He who was and is ultimate Life.
But as I begin to grow up just a little bit, as I begin to lean into a healthier version of myself, I’m beginning to learn how to embrace both joy and pain. I’m learning that it’s okay not to have a smile on my face all the time, that this is not necessarily the mark of a follower of Christ. And I’m learning not to run from the Hard Things, but to instead hold them and hug them as I seek to find Beauty in the most unlikely of places.
Cara is a writer, speaker and musician from in the greater San Francisco area. She is currently tweaking away at her first book when not on the hunt for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She and her husband, James, try to dance nightly and live life LARGE with their two young sons.