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Flipping Tables

I am an EIGHT on the Enneagram.

YUP. It's the one people get a little bit freaked out by.

The Challenger.

Here is what one website says about EIGHTS (which feels pretty accurate in my case).

Goal-oriented and self-competent, Challengers trail blaze boldly through all walks of life and take great pride in their independence and sharp minds. They hold their heads up high and will pick themselves right back up after each stumble — stronger than before.

Strong advocates for others, Eights are concerned with justice, combating oppression, and protecting the weak. They view the world as made up of “strong” and “weak” people — they are strong and, therefore, are responsible for protecting those who are not.

Eights are energetic and direct. This type is not shy when it comes to taking the lead and making tough decisions. They have no fear of conflict and they are not always concerned with limits or boundaries. They typically take charge during group projects or meetings and find themselves at ease in leadership positions.

The core emotion experienced by EIGHTS is anger. Eights have no problem accessing their anger, often expressing it impulsively.

Healthy Eights are brave and charismatic leaders who stand up for themselves and others. Less healthy Eights may ruin relationships on their path toward power and authority. Eights grow when they learn to access their vulnerability and weaknesses.

Sorry for the long explanation, but bear with me. I've struggled with this "diagnosis," even though it's fairly precise, because I want to be seen as warm, kind, gentle, peaceful, loving, you know, all the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

But ANGER, nope, not so much.

Especially lately.

For a long time, one of my favorite stories of Jesus was the cleansing of the temple (especially John's version when he made a whip and all that). I liked this angry, violent Jesus, who set people straight and gave them what was coming to them.

It justified my own coarse, harsh way of dealing with those who I deemed had bad behavior, were "in the wrong," you know, all the things I disagreed with.

I not-so-secretly loved when our country bombed our "enemies" with "shock and awe," when criminals received harsh sentences and when bullies were punched in the face by those who stood up to them.

All in the name of meting out righteous justice.

I was baffled by people like Ghandi who seemed to contradict the Bible by saying "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

I thought it was an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

Enter my love for crime shows and especially the character, Walter White, from Breaking Bad.

Also, enter my own kids not making wise choices and especially one who bit kids in the nursery, shoved them over on the playground and did some pretty "violent stuff" as an older child.

Lastly, enter my love for the Star Wars trilogies and seeing the story of Darth Vader come full circle.

God works in mysterious ways, my friends.

Knowing the backstory of Walter White, his love for his wife, his slow burn into becoming a drug dealer to make sure she was taken care of after his death, awakened compassion in my soul and I found myself not wanting him to get caught by the police. Brilliant writing.

Watching the struggles of my child, his anxiety and his lack of impulse control when he felt threatened and his immature desire (not all that different from mine) to fight for justice, and my fierce love for him, also softened my heart and began to challenge my "pay-them-back" mentality.

Having loved Star Wars since I was 12 and then being shown why (in my 40s) why Darth Vader ended up on the "dark side" (his desire to avenge his own mother's rape and death and his ensuing and out-of-control anger) stopped me in my tracks. I was delighted when at the "end of it all," he stood with those he betrayed, embraced by the "Force" in its fullness.

And this is how God slowly and gently flipped my table.

My table that wanted retributive justice and believed it was the same for God.

My table that believed Jesus was violent and wanted "payback" when he charged into the temple, fashioned a whip and "drove" everyone out by force.

My table that was driven by the unhealed anger inside my own soul.

About a month ago, I was chatting with my oldest daughter about my "justice warrior," EIGHT self and the struggles I now have with who I am at my core (now that my table has been flipped).

I felt shame creep into my heart as I shared with her that I wish I was like others who didn't have this personality type.

She spoke something into me that healed me right on the spot.

"Mom," she said, "I love that you are a justice warrior. And I've watched how you've gone from someone who wants pay back, retributive justice, to someone much more like Jesus, whose heart is for restorative justice, where all are healed."

I began to weep.

Because as I've studied that section of Scripture where Jesus got off the donkey and headed right into the temple, it's all changed for me.

I don't see an out-of-control, violent man who wants to set everyone straight.

I see a very much in-control, justice warrior, who wants to set the oppressed free.

I don't see a rage-filled man with a whip attacking the people.

I see a rightfully angry man fashioning a herding whip to drive out the animals being wrongfully used as pawns in the toxic religious sacrificial systems of the day.

I don't see a man contradicting everything he preached about the upside-down, peace-filled kingdom of God.

I see a man embodying the fullness of his very own humanity, allowing for his truest self to be revealed in all its beauty.

And what I see most of all, is that he's given permission for my "EIGHT, Justice Warrior" self to do this as well.

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