Understanding Your Story
by Carter Stevens
“Your story matters here.”
It is a phrase that comes up quite often at City Life. We hear it every Sunday. It’s the first thing you see on the website. And, for some, it might raise some questions. What does “your story” mean? And why does it matter? Your story is what makes you “you”. It is the highs and lows of life. Every relationship and experience, both good and bad, have shaped you into the person you are. It’s a story that has been uniquely crafted and cherished by God.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)
Your story matters to Him, so your story matters here.
Growing up in a church that recognized the value of stories, I put a lot of time into understanding my story. Often, it’s from a place of brokenness. Why do I struggle with the things that I struggle with? How come others don’t seem to have that struggle at all? It’s uncomfortable to face these questions, but my desire to understand my story and grow in relationship with Christ compels me to step out of my comfort zones.
About a year ago, my wife started reading into the Enneagram, a personality profiling methodology. I had taken several different personality tests in the past and gotten nothing useful from them, so when she shared it with me, I was skeptical, to say the least. But as I have looked into it more, it has become one of the most transformational tools in understanding more about myself and how God has designed me.
The Enneagram is simple in concept but rich in its depth. There are nine different types of personalities, each referred to by a number. Each personality has unique behaviors, motivations, strengths, and fears. Each has a number that they shift to in times of stress, and a number they shift to in times of security. And there’s still a few more layers beyond all this. With how specific this can get, it’s crazy how spot on it is. But what I love most is how easy it is to apply to life.
People tend to expect others to see and process the world as they do. There’s a “normal” way to do things, and anything outside of that is wrong. I’m certainly guilty of this, and I don’t have to look any farther than my marriage for proof. When I approach relationships using the Enneagram, it reminds me that there are actually nine “normals”, and one isn’t better than the other. Using the Enneagram, I can navigate relationships better. It helps me understand what to expect from myself. It helps others understand what to expect from me. It shows me what to expect from others. And when we better know ourselves and each other’s stories, we can begin to appreciate God as the great storyteller that he is.
If you want to learn more about the Enneagram, check out these resources below. I hope to make a series out of this topic and post more in the future, so check back soon!
Take the original personality test at Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scales
Learn more about the Enneagram at The Enneagram Institute
Buy the best-selling book The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Listen to The Road Back to You Podcast
Watch or listen to Pastor Aaron talk more about why “Your Story Matters”