Big Lessons from Little Tomatoes

Little known fact about my dad: he’s a writer. He isn’t vocal about it in public, but he talks and dreams about it with me.

“That’s my biggest pet peeve about bloggers,” I confessed as we rode the waves in a tri-toon around Percy Priest Lake a couple Saturdays ago. “Why do they feel the need to say that they haven’t written in awhile? Who cares?”

Alas, here we are:

I haven’t written in awhile. Insert shrug emoji here.

Flipping through the the pages of my journal, the bulk that May-July holds is surprising. Maybe because writing is becoming less of a practice and more of a brain dump – each entry spanning more than just a few lines. Life is fun right now. And tough. And fascinating, and fast. Teachable moments surprise me at every corner with outstretched arms holding tiny parting gifts as I continue on the journey: Show her what’s she’s won!

As hard as I try to scribble words each day, it’s almost too much for me to maintain. There’s simultaneously so much I want to share, but the silence in listening and learning is so, so sweet.

I read a blog last week from an old friend sorting through her own trauma. Her friend encouraged her to write, saying “you never know who your story will impact.” I’ve heard this many times myself, though somehow always resigning to cherry picking parts I don’t feel are important. They still happened, didn’t they?

It’s all part of your story. And your story is important.

Some of my nearest and dearest recently dipped our toes into the Enneagram, studying Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You.

After a little inner conflict and confusion, I’ve discovered myself in the label of Enneagram 3 (with a strong 4 wing). I check the boxes of well-accomplished, living by to-do lists, and though I hate to admit it, I am image-conscious – making perfect sense for those who know me personally and professionally. Cron and Stabile liken 3s to ducks, effortlessly gliding on tops of water. What the world doesn’t see are their little webbed feet propelling them, flipping back and forth 90 to nothing. Often times as a 3, it’s hard to rest and just BE.

Illustrated by Kelly Kingman for The Visual Enneagram | visualenneagram.com

Illustrated by Kelly Kingman for The Visual Enneagram | visualenneagram.com

I could drone for hours on the things I’ve learned about myself through this book, but ultimately what I love about this study is what I’ve learned about the people around me.

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting at a dining room table, sharing a meal with a dear friend and her two Siberian Forest kittens. The cats are rapidly shedding their fun-sized frames and growing into two beautiful, long-haired fur-siblings who play hard, and sleep harder.

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In between bites of salad, my friend asked if I knew my calling. I giggled awkwardly thinking back to a dream I shared in a previous blog. “The short answer?” I started. “NO. But I keep coming back to love. There’s not enough of it in this world, so I’m going to claim that. Until I have confirmation of anything else, I believe my purpose is to love people in the very best way I can.”

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
—Thomas Merton

The Enneagram separates the number types into Triads of Head, Heart, and Gut – this is how circumstances of life are perceived and processed. This sounds simple enough, but even if there are a million 3s with 4 wings out there… have you ever shopped for white paint? Or blue paint? Or red? There are endless variations. What a fascinating realization to discover how uniquely made we actually are!

And this is what I’ve learned so far: an understanding of what motivates people, how they communicate in stress and security, how I can better love the people around me — a tough realization for a 3 who wants to win at life and bow for the standing ovation. Loving people isn’t big or impressive. And it certainly won’t up anyone’s Instagram followers. (Ha.)

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We’ve had an incredibly rainy summer here in Nashville and my urban garden is coming in hot. At this rate, I imagine we will have homegrown tomatoes ripening well into fall.

Holding a handful of cherry tomatoes about to become dinner, I felt the gravity and exhaustion of my 3-ness – and the perfect-ness of these tomatoes that spend their day doing nothing to live up to their potential, only growing under God’s provision (and thank goodness – I am so forgetful when it comes to watering plants).

There’s something poetic in there about resting in promise and living without worry that both knocked the wind out of me and made me wonder what am I even doing?

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I escaped the summer sun with a handful of friends last weekend by jumping back in the murky waves of Percy Priest Lake. Since none of us have children, we talk about work a lot. When the conversation pointed at me and my perspective as an entrepreneur, I caught myself admitting that my definition of success had changed.

As a 3, I’ve always had big dreams for my life. My gut says set the stage, win the recognition, make it all look so easy! But I’ve received such game-changing love in the past year. The only thing that makes sense is to share it with my fellow humans, all made in God’s image. I’ve started piecing together the seamless story He’s writing and find the Enneagram ties this together beautifully:

Ones show us God’s perfection and his desire to restore the world to its original goodness, while Twos witness to God’s unstoppable, selfless giving. Threes remind us about God’s glory, and Fours about the creativity and pathos of God. Fives show God’s omniscience, Sixes God’s steadfast love and loyalty, and Sevens God’s childlike joy and delight in creation. Eights mirror God’s power and intensity, while Nines reflect God’s love of peace and desire for union with his children.
— Ian Morgan Cron, The Road Back to You

This is the Big Picture.

When I think about the divided state of our neighborhoods, our country, and our world, but then I see this — how God made us to fit together like a big, strange, multi-colored puzzle — that’s when I feel the urgency to share this love. The Heart, Head, and Gut Triads need each other to fully live.

No glory to me. Glory only to God for bringing light to darkness, redeeming all brokenness, and making beauty in the wasteland. I have seen Him keep His promises and I am so grateful.

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