5 books for wholehearted living as an Enneagram Nine.

Two summers ago, I jumped into learning about the Enneagram. I’d avoided learning about it for years because I was overwhelmed by all the numbers & arrows! But even my reluctance felt used by Jesus, as it felt like Jesus had been saving this tool for me to discover at the perfect time.

It didn’t take me long to identify myself as a Nine, as I read The Road Back to You. I felt so seen and grateful to have language to explain what it feels like to be me. It helped me find my voice and start seeing how easily I assume that I don’t matter (as much) as someone else. It is a subtle thing to believe, but it has been transformational to identify when I’m allowing others to matter more than me.

What a joy it has been to have recently become the host for a corner of the internet, dedicated to growing as Nines! You can find us here.

Books are one of the languages my heart speaks fluently. Reading seems to meet me in a way unlike any other. So, I’d like to offer a few book recommendations especially for Enneagram Nines. (But even if you’re not a Nine, these books have helped me in my own personal growth & I’m pretty convinced they’d be a gift in the midst of anyone’s journey with Jesus.)

1. Boundaries for Your Soul

Nines find ourselves in the anger/gut triad, but it would surprise most people that we are there, as we are often asleep to our anger. Trying to keep the peace takes up a great deal of energy making it counter-intuitive to welcome the voice of anger. I’ve had such a hard time appreciating my anger and what it wants to say to me. As I read Boundaries for Your Soul, they spoke of what it could look like to befriend unwanted anger:

“I want to thank you, anger, for being there, for helping me to be strong. Without you, I’d be falling apart now. You’re a valuable part of me.” (42)

This book has been a gift to me. So often we hear of boundaries within the external relationships we have with others, but this book offers help with knowing and engaging with the state of your own soul. Instead of ignoring, dismissing or disliking the difficult emotions or thoughts that come into our heads and hearts, Alison & Kimberly offer the tools to engage in another way. Their approach to befriending the unwanted emotions and thought patterns and taking them to the Lord has been so helpful, and affirming of the message the Lord was already preaching to my heart in recent days.

2. God in the Dark

I think Nines can struggle to name how hard things are. To do so would mean they are facing conflict, whether externally or simply within their own souls. This beautiful book feels like the perfect companion for a Nine who is willing to enter into their own suffering and invite the Lord there.

Originally written as letters for a dear friend in a dark season, this short, 31-day devotional was one of the best things I’ve read as a companion to my own dark days. Each day is written as a reflection of a passage of Scripture, most coming from Psalm 119 (which just happened to be what the Lord had me reading personally.) I never had a deep love for this psalm as I have for others, but that has changed drastically since reading this book. The insights and honesty shared about what it looks like to invite the Lord into depression, suffering and pain were utterly refreshing. Dark days by nature feel so lonely, and to have a book written as letters to a beloved friend felt like the perfect anecdote to that kind of darkness.

3. Whole

Nines ache for real peace and restoration and healing, for themselves and for those around them. But we often settle for so much less. We settle for peace keeping, and going with the flow. But if you are serious about wanting wholeness and restoration in your life and for others, this is the book for you. It asks good, hard, soul-deep questions, helps bring the reader to the Biblical narrative and feels like the perfect companion to a braver, costly life. I underlined so much and certain sections felt like they were written just for me. This book has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.

“I believe that the Scriptures tell an overarching story that leads to wholeness, but the Scriptures also include stories of heartbreaking brokenness. We prolong our pain when we try to fix the brokenness without going on a journey of restoration, which includes additional heartache, questions, and long periods of waiting.”

PS. Steve Wiens, the author is an Enneagram Three, which is where we Nines head in security! I loved learning from him.

4. Anonymous

Nines can tend to be overlooked, as we struggle to believe that our presence truly matters. It is hard work to take steps towards using our voice, stating our opinions and addressing conflict, in order to believe that we are seen and deeply matter. But I don’t believe that we can be fully transformed by that truth until we see how loved we are by the Lord, and begin to live out of that.

Alicia Britt Chole writes about Jesus’ hidden years and it is a beautiful, encouraging look at what it looks like to follow the Lord in your own hidden years. It was a GIFT for my heart to see my own hiddenness in this season in a new light. I felt like the Lord whispered to my heart that I am seen and loved by him as I read this book.

Additionally, it was a gift to reframe the quiet and mostly unseen work I’m doing privately as incredibly valuable. I loved her words on seeing today as the “main course” instead of the “appetizer.” Hidden, unseen days are not merely what you do as you wait for the “important” work the Lord has for you. Today is the main course! This book gave me a new excitement to be where he has placed me, even if it can feel lonely and unseen. I am seen by the Lord. My presence deeply matters, regardless of how visible my current season may be or not.

“In seasons of hiddenness our sense of value is disrupted, stripped of what “others” affirmed us to be. In this season God intends to give us an unshakable identity in Him, that no amount of adoration nor rejection can alter.”

51uodupfxzl-_sx322_bo1204203200_5. Breathing Room

Nines are so good at seeing others’ needs and understanding someone else’s point of view. But we tend to think our presence doesn’t matter quite as much as everyone. This often translates into believing that our needs don’t need to be cared for the same way we care for others’ needs.

I love Leanna’s conversational, honest writing. She shares about her struggles with self-care, with transition and finding rest in the midst of pregnancy, mothering, living abroad and moving back to the states. Her personal stories affirmed what I’ve been learning in my own life and heart about how to be kind to oneself, how to offer grace and how to find room to breathe in transition. This is a “me too” sort of book, and invites us to care for ourselves well.

“And if I continue to push myself, if I prod myself, if I pretend none of this matters, I will hurt myself. Studies show I can do long term damage to my adrenal system. I can create chronic fatigue. I can shortcut my own resiliency. I can, in an attempt to get on with things and be “strong,” end up exhausting myself to the point where I lose my ability to be present in my own life. In a word, I can actually end up contributing to my own depression.
If you’ve been doing this, if you, in the name of “being strong” or “coping” or “getting through,” have not allowed yourself the rest and recovery time you need, especially in the midst of and following a huge life transition, then now is the time to do something different. Now is not the time to punish yourself. Now is not the time to consider yourself a failure.
Now is the time to care for yourself as you would a dear friend. Now is the time to nurture yourself like a mother would a child. Now is the time for compassion, empathy, love.”

What books have been helpful in your journey? I’d love to hear in the comments!


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