BY HANNAH STAPLETON, GRACE ATTENDER
Read the Enneagram series here.
Enneagram Nines are called Peacemakers because at their very healthiest, they are natural mediators. Part of the Anger triad, average Nines will become out of touch with their anger and overlook their own needs. When they are unhealthy, Nines become overly dependent on others and struggle with making decisions. Nines will often neglect their own needs to keep the peace and make everyone else happy. That friend that can never pick a place to have dinner and always says “I’m good with whatever!”? Probably a Nine.
The Passion or Deadly Sin of Nines is Sloth—they do not want to be overly bothered by life. Even though they are part of the anger triad, Nines under express their anger to avoid conflict at all costs. Nines will do whatever it takes to make people get along. In times of growth, they take on the characteristics of a Three and come more goal-oriented and decisive. In stress, Nines become more like an unhealthy Six: they are overcommitted, worried, rigid, and anxious.
Sarah Feeney (SF) attended Grace her whole life. She recently graduated from Indiana University and currently teaches Spanish and English as a New language at Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School. She and her husband currently serve in First Impressions at Grace 146.
Abby Mortimer (AB) has been a pharmacist at Eskenazi Hospital (formerly Wishard Hospital) for 29 years. She has been married to Mark for almost 28 years, no kids. She made a decision to follow Jesus when she was 22 (30 years ago!). Abby and her husband have been attending Grace since the beginning (followed over from Faith Missionary).
Christin Nevins (CN) is 41, a mother of 3 teenagers, married to Adam for 20 years. She is an Adaptive Change Coach – working with churches and corporate clients to help them build healthy leaders, teams and adaptive strategic plans. She and her family been attending Grace North Indy for just under 2 years.
What’s your favorite thing about being a 9?
SF: I feel like my number comes with the ability and desire to be considerate and to empathize with others. Though I often worry that I am going to make the wrong decision or do something that will negatively affect someone else, that also comes with the ability to understand the weight of my words and actions. Kindness is common sense to me, and I value the kindness of others.
AB: I like that I can see all sides and understand other's viewpoints. I hope this makes me less judgmental and more compassionate.
CN: I love that I can see both sides of an argument and that others feel seen and heard by me. I love that I can be a calming presence and that spiritual connection comes pretty naturally to me.
What’s the worst or hardest thing about being a 9?
SF: The worst part about being a 9 is the worry and guilt. I am consistently worried about hurting others or being an inconvenience to them in any way. For this reason, I feel extreme guilt for making a decision (even when someone asks me what I want), for not being available when someone wants to make plans, for having done something that someone else couldn't, and even for things that have nothing to do with me whatsoever.
AB: 9's have the lowest energy. And seeing all sides makes it hard to decide what I want to do sometimes. We desire peace so much that we have to be careful not to avoid conflict at all costs.
CN: Procrastination is the hardest thing about being a 9. It hurts me. It hurts others. I know what needs to be done and I struggle so much to do it or I spend tons of energy on doing other things. It can turn into an ugly downward spiral very quickly.
If you could describe your number in three words, what would you pick?
SF: Considerate, empathetic, non-confrontational
AB: Peace-loving, mediator, conflict-avoidance (see, couldn't decide so really used 5 words 😊 )
CN: Sleep-walking, intuitive, easy-going
When did you know you’d found your number?
SF: Before I took the Enneagram test, I had absolutely no knowledge of any of the numbers. When I received a 9, I knew it was absolutely the right number. After that, I began noticing and reflecting on things that I do and how I interact with others and how that relates to my number. Solely knowing my number has helped me to grow and understand myself better. I still do not know very much about the other numbers, but have learned things through people close to me, like my husband (2) and my sister (1).
AB: Pretty much when I took the first test and read the description.
CN: The description on Enneagram Institute’s website about how 9s can deeply relate to every number except their own made so much sense to me that it kind of took my breath away. I’ve spent most of my life disconnected from who I am and what I want and think and feel. I also resonate with the descriptions Enneagram Institute shares about the healthy, average and unhealthy expressions of 9s. The other way I knew I found my number is how I was both drawn to and deeply struggled with the growth practices for my number. They named my deepest struggles and helped me envision what health and freedom could look like for me.
What’s one thing about your number you think everyone should know?
SF: We do have opinions, wants, and needs! We often act indifferent and content in order to not be a burden or cause problems. Force us to choose sometimes and remind us to ask for help when we need it!
AB: If you know a 9, then take it seriously when they show a preference for something. It will be easy to convince them to do what you want but if you care about them, let them decide some things.
CN: All 9s are not asleep on the couch, zoned out or eating a pint of ice cream. I believe 9s are uniquely gifted to bring healing and leadership to a polarized, chaotic and paradox-filled world. Sometimes we 9s need to be called forth – like Lazarus out of the grave - and reminded that our presence matters, our voice matters and our action is needed.
What’s your wing? How does that play in to your dominant type?
SF: My wing is a 1 and I feel like I pull from it a lot. Sometimes I think I am almost as much of a 1 as I am a 9. I believe there is a right and a wrong way to do things (though my 9 does help me to empathize with multiple perspectives and experiences). This paired with my 9 makes me a perfectionist, as I fear the consequences of messing up. One of the main traits I experience as a 9 is the fear of confrontation. However, my 1 paired with my 9 allows me to be unapologetically confrontational in the face of injustice. To me as a 1 wing, injustice is wrong, immoral, and illogical (as it is literally not just). As a 9, I painfully empathize with victims of injustice and I can't allow it to happen.
AB: I have a 1 wing. I guess it helps me see more black and white (the way the world should be) instead of all the gray.
CN: My wings are shifting as I age. I have had a strong 1-wing. I’ve always wanted to do the right thing the right way. This can add to my procrastination because I’ll avoid doing something if I don’t know how to do it perfectly. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I have more of an 8 wing than I thought. I hate to be vulnerable; I struggle to let myself feel or be seen and when I do, I’ve believed that I’m being weak. I don’t like to feel controlled and would rebel just to prove that I don’t have to follow others’ rules to succeed.
How does the Enneagram play into your vocation?
SF: As a first-year teacher, I think I fell into a common trap: I was too laid back at the beginning of the year. As I tried to tighten up classroom management, I was still hesitant to give consequences. Classroom management has been hard for me because I don't want to cause any conflict and I want everyone to be happy. On the other hand, my number has given me the patience and understanding to achieve my greater goal in teaching, which is to make my students feel safe and loved no matter what.
AB: I am still trying to figure out what my 'passion' might be. Knowing myself and what I want is difficult when I can see so many good things to do. My volunteer work so far has been to respond to a need rather than seeking out something I am passionate about.
CN: My job as an Adaptive Leadership Coach is about two things: 1) equipping leaders and organizations to grow and mature so they can do the work they are called to do; and 2) guiding people through conflict toward reconciliation. Enneagram has become a powerful tool for understanding what motivates individuals, helps me coach them more effectively and helps me face and work through my own struggles as I lead, parent and am a wife and friend.
How does your knowledge of Enneagram affect or influence your relationships?
SF: The Enneagram helps me to better understand my husband and the people around me. As a 9 I already see multiple perspectives, but my logical 1 wing sometimes makes me skeptical about the way other people do things. The Enneagram helps me to realize that people's actions and emotions don't have to make sense to me to be real and valid. I also believe that understanding myself helps me to be more mindful about the role I am playing in a relationship. I often drag my feet to do difficult things and have difficult conversations. I have to challenge myself to recognize constructive conflict as a necessary part of a healthy relationship.
AB: It gives me an explanation for low energy, which isn't an excuse. But between learning I am an introvert and a 9 gives me permission to say no to things and arrange my life to have regeneration time. Also, I have learned it is important for me to state a preference for things when I have one, such as where we go for dinner. 9's tend to merge with other people and go with the flow. It is important to be introspective and to understand what you want and what's important to you and stand by those things. Most of the time, I really don't care but when I do, I need to let it be known.
CN: It gives me empathy. It’s really hard to be every number on the Enneagram. If I start with empathy, I feel less frustrated and more curious and creative about how to interact with each type. It has helped my marriage – both in helping me see the frustration I may cause my husband and to see the strengths I bring to our relationship. It has greatly helped us parent our three teenagers, as well. We can better guide them toward character formation and truth that balance some of their unhealthy tendencies. We can also enjoy and appreciate their unique contributions because we have more language for them now.
How does the Enneagram affect your faith? Do you use it as spiritual practice?
SF: When I think about my number in relation to my faith, I think about when the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking him what the most important commandment is. He responded that we should love God and love others and that all other things should fall under these two laws. For this reason, I am thankful to be a 9, because loving others is all I really want to do. However, I do have to challenge my intentions. I need to remember why I'm loving others; why I am being kind. It should not just be to avoid pain and conflict, but to imitate Jesus and glorify God.
AB: The besetting sin for the 9 is Sloth. It takes an effort to get us going. We like to numb ourselves with comforting activities and live a lot in our heads. The way to counteract this according to Suzanne Stabile is to take positions of leadership to increase my faith. This has rung true for me as I took a shepherd role in Women's ministry. I have to feel like I will make a difference before I make an effort.
CN: For me the Enneagram is like magic glasses that help me see the invisible lies like ropes that hold me captive and it’s a road map to walk with God on a path of freedom, healing and truth that shrivels the lies and gives me strength to fight them off and live a new story. It is a spiritual practice for me to listen to the Spirit for lies that I might be believing and for the truth that can set me free. It is a spiritual practice for me to believe that God’s grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in my weakness. It’s a spiritual practice for me to abide in God’s love and goodness and for me to take courageous and consistent action that feels vulnerable and yet reveals the character of God in and through me.
How does the Enneagram bring you closer to God?
AB: I feel like being a 9 and seeing other peoples' sides and understanding them gives me compassion. You don't know what other people have experienced and should not judge them. I think that this is how God sees people. He knows them and understands them and loves them anyway.
CN: It helps me to see the image of God in every type. It speaks to the paradox of human uniqueness and predictable patterns. It reminds me that there is always growth available, yet there is grace and beauty where we are right now in our journey.
What are some resources you would offer to other 9s?
SF: I have been working on empowering myself to say what I want or think or need. I think it is important for 9s to practice having a voice and having influence in their own lives. I also have been working (with little success) on not apologizing when there is nothing to apologize for. I have found myself saying ""sorry"" before starting conversations with people I need to talk to, as if I was anticipating that I was inconveniencing them. We do not need to apologize for simply occupying space in this world. Finally, ask for help when you need it! The weight of the world does not have to be on your shoulders. It's not all up to you and there are people who want to help.
AB: Challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone occasionally. Don't settle for ""peace at all cost"" to avoid conflict. It doesn't work. Look inside yourself to determine what you really want and pursue it. Read The Road Back To You and learn more about yourself. 9's are part of the anger triad. We ignore it until it comes out explosively. Pay attention to what is making you angry. It matters. Figure out why.
CN: The music of Sleeping At Last “Atlas 2” about each Enneagram type, as well as the accompanying podcasts, have been powerful for me. Episodes 23 and 24 of Typology - Science Mike Hacks the Enneagram really helped me understand my struggle with anger and gave me a vision of using my strength and voice to fight for the things that matter.
Resources for 9s:
The Enneagram Institute
Sleeping at Last “Nine”
The Road Back to You Podcast interview with Sarah Bessey