I recently watched a video of a half-day enneagram workshop presented by Love Thy Neighborhood, an urban ministry. It was a good refresher, and especially nice for me, in that it approached personality from a faith-based perspective. The “homework” for type 4, aka the “Creative/Romantic type” was to meditate on satisfaction, and think about what it might be like to be satisfied in Christ.
Which is hilarious, because Fours are never, ever satisfied. As a matter of fact, we often sabotage our own contentment. When things get calm and steady, we freak out because it might mean we’re becoming (*GASP!*) boring. Unless we’re at the healthy end of our spectrum, we’d rather be interesting disasters.
This was pretty well-timed, because this year I’m moving into a relatively steady, comfortable routine. Looking around, I have no major complaints. Since the Great Remodel of 2016, our house has become a nice place to inhabit. I’ve been at Freedom United for a little over a year, and I love my coworkers, my work and the sense of purpose I get from our mission.
The eldest kid is settled into a full-time job and on-track to get his own place, probably sometime this year. The youngest is totally killing it as a middle schooler. I have good friends, and my relationship with my sisters and dad are about as good as they’re likely to get. We’re settled into a church small group full of fellow nerds who check in with us and genuinely care about how we’re doing. I finished a novella in January, and I’m on track to finish a novel this month.
I have nothing to complain about. (Although I’m mature enough to know that this is just a season, and like all seasons good and bad, it will pass).
There is nothing to disturb my satisfaction.
I’m in a very healthy place after two years on a treatment plan for my anxiety and depression. And yet… that urge never fully goes away. To go picking at the edges of my contentment, digging around with my fingernails until I find a frayed end I can pull on. To go looking for those niggling imperfections I can focus on until the screen of my attention takes on its familiar gray tinge, and a melancholy Joe Purdy song starts playing in the background of my brain.
I’m not saying I should ignore the real problems around me. People are dying horribly in pointless wars. Our president is, pardon my honest opinion, woefully unqualified and surrounded by a staff of incompetent sycophants. Common civility has degraded to the point that airlines are dragging paying customers off flights to save a few bucks.
I have friends who’ve lost loved ones recently. I have others who have been blindsided by gut-wrenching personal issues, and still others who go to bed in fear of losing their basic rights.
I saw a bunny in my yard yesterday who was so damned confused, he tried to mount a squirrel, when the female bunny ran off and left him. The world has gotten weird, y’all.
But… I can’t fix any of that. Not even the confused, lonesome bunny in my front yard. Or the deeply dismayed and slightly shell-shocked squirrel.
I especially can’t help with any of that if I can’t escape the endless episode of Grey’s Anatomy my life becomes when I succumb to my natural tendency to wallow in tragedy. I made a decision years ago to move out of my personal mental Seattle. Like Cristina Yang, I have moved to my own mental Switzerland. It’s nice. We have good chocolate.
Things will change – they always do. I will face more loss, challenges and setbacks. Righteous, (non self-absorbed) dissatisfaction will stir my heart to fight injustice (hint: it already does, given my current job).
For now, I am content to enjoy being in this place, and try to accept the grace of this season graciously.