Tag Archives: codependency

Book Review: The Road Back to You

Today is launch day for a very exciting book, a collaboration of author Ian Cron and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile.  “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery” explains this ancient personality typing system and how using the Enneagram can help you to understand yourself and others better, leading to greater compassion and empathy, and deeper, healthier relationships.  In addition, understanding yourself better is key to growing in relationship with God.

A big part of my life is listening to podcasts, as I work alone and enjoy having “adult conversations” to keep me company.  I started listening to Luke Norsworthy’s podcast last year.  He interviews fascinating Christian authors, pastors, activists and theologians.  In one of his conversations with Richard Rohr, they chatted about the Enneagram and later that night, I Googled “Enneagram” and read through The Enneagram Institute’s site.  Then this summer, he did a podcast with Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron about their upcoming book and podcast.  I have since been listening each week as they interview guests about their Enneagram number.  I jumped at the opportunity to read an advance copy of their book and share this review with you.

In the first chapter, Ian Cron describes his introduction to the Enneagram in seminary when he came across a Richard Rohr book, and his professor’s adamant rejection of its credibility.  Later on, after burning out in pastoral ministry and finding a spiritual director, Brother Dave, to help put the pieces of his life back together, they discussed using the Enneagram together.

“It’s too bad your professor discouraged you from learning the Enneagram,” Br. Dave told me. “It’s full of wisdom for people who want to get out of their own way and become who they were created to be.” “What does ‘getting out of your own way’ entail?” I asked, knowing how many times I’d wanted to do just that in my life but didn’t know how. “It has to do with self-knowledge. Most folks assume they understand who they are when they don’t,” Br. Dave explained. “They don’t question the lens through which they see the world—where it came from, how it’s shaped their lives, or even if the vision of reality it gives them is distorted or true. Even more troubling, most people aren’t aware of how things that helped them survive as kids are now holding them back as adults. They’re asleep.”

“What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others,” he said, pointing his finger at me and then at himself. “As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

“Working with the Enneagram helps people develop the kind of self-knowledge they need to understand who they are and why they see and relate to the world the way they do,” Br. Dave continued. “When that happens you can start to get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be.”

trbty-4
I wrote a post in March of 2015 about my journey to finding healing from codependcy.  I experienced church and family trauma and I was in a similar broken place that Ian Cron describes.  I didn’t have a spiritual director like Br. Dave to guide me, but God did provide spiritual guides both in the flesh and in books and on the interwebs that helped me find my footing again.  I share that story and links that were helpful in the post.  If I had read “The Road Back to You” at that time, I would have included this resource.  I have personally experienced the change in my relationship with God as I understand myself and others better.  I feel unconditional love and acceptance from God.  In reading my old post, I see how my personality has always been an Enneagram 9, but I was unhealthy and now I am more self-aware.  I have a deeper understanding of my healing.

I believe that churches would be healthy and productive and safe if only there was more self-awareness in parishioners.  Ian and Suzanne always repeat on their podcasts that their passion for sharing the Enneagram is in seeing compassion grow. In reading the chapters explaining the nine types, I was blown away as I recognized myself, my husband, my children, my relatives and friends.  I see clearly where my work needs to be done to be a healthier, safer person.  I see where the behavior of others stems from, which gives me a greater ability to be gracious and forgiving and also to communicate with them in a meaningful way.

I don’t want to give away too much about this book.  I just want to urge you to buy a copy or request that your church or library purchase a copy.  Pass along “The Road Back to You” website to your pastor and friends.  Listen to Ian and Suzanne’s podcast on your commute or while you work.  This is an important resource for spiritual development and will bear much good fruit in your life if you use it as a spiritual discipline.

Here are the links one more time:

To purchase a copy: https://smile.amazon.com/Road-Back-You-Enneagram-Self-Discovery/ (using Smile.Amazon.com gives you an opportunity to give back to a cause that is important to you.  If you’d like, you can choose “North Harbor Community Church” – my church in Maine).

The Road Back to You website: http://theroadbacktoyou.com/


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Finding Healing from Codependency

There is a proverb that says, “I went up to the rooftop to find relief from my pain, and saw that all the other houses were on fire.”  I have learned over time just how true this is.  Even those who appear the most put-together are dealing with pain, symptomatic of the brokenness of our world.  We all need healing and restoration to God’s intended fullness of life for His beloved children.

You are God's delight

We live in a fallen world and are socialized from a tender age to believe many lies about who we are and what we should be and do.  Our parents may have the best intentions to protect us from these lies, but there are lies deeply embedded in their own psyches.  We strive to attain cultural standards of ideal womanhood and manhood in ways that can be contradictory to God’s plan and design for our lives.  We are all hurt by messages that are antithetical to the Good News that Jesus has redeemed His creation and we can live a life of wholeness and abundance.  In John 10:10, Jesus says,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I read this post last week about how Christian girls and women are socialized to be codependent doormats in the name of “biblical womanhood.”  The author says,

Most materials and sermons I got from Christians in my girlhood emphasized that the only way a girl or woman could be pleasing to God was to be a doormat to other people. Meaning, many hallmarks of codependency are present in this teaching, such as:

  • It is biblical or good for a girl or woman to be passive

  • Getting one’s needs met is selfish; showing or feeling anger is wrong and un-Christian

  • One should always care about other people’s feelings, needs, and wants more than one’s own

I was reminded of one of my favorite posts of all time, “Ex Good Christian Women” by Kathy Escobar.  She shares two lists of qualities present in “Good Christian Women” and “Ex  Good Christian Women” that are spot on.  She says,

“Good Christian Women”

  • rarely engage in conflict
  • are terrible at saying “no” because it feels selfish
  • know how to say the right things, do the right things, to keep the peace
  • continually strive–and i do mean strive–to be a better wife, better mother, better christian
  • live with a feeling that God is disappointed with us somehow
  • feel a lot of shame for who we are and who we aren’t (but rarely say it out loud)
  • doubt our leadership, feelings, gifts, dreams
  • dwell on the things we should be doing differently or better
  • view anger as sin
  • always seek permission

“Ex Good Christian Women”

  • are learning to show up in relationship instead of hiding
  • engage in conflict instead of avoid it
  • say “no” with less-and-less guilt and say “yes” more freely, more honestly
  • tell the truth
  • respect anger
  • are honest about shame
  • live in the present
  • are beginning to believe we are “enough”–here, now
  • open ourselves up to dreams & passions & living out what God is stirring up in us
  • lead & love & live in all kinds of new ways, with or without permission
  • are discovering that God is much bigger than we were ever taught & loves us more than we ever knew

Self-care-steps

Oh, how I relate to these posts.  I was raised in a patriarchal church culture that negatively impacted my understanding of God’s will for my life.  I was a poster girl for these ideal qualities:  being always sensitive to the needs and feelings of others (while being completely out of touch with my own needs and feelings), deferring to others (while not developing my own gifts of leadership), a helper (who could never ask others for help), an empathetic listener (who was always stoic and would never open up about my own emotions).  I always believed that I was living up to “biblical” ideals of femininity and God’s design for women.  I now understand that many of the cultural messages I received about “biblical womanhood” were actually lies and were stealing, killing and destroying me rather than giving me an abundant and full life in Christ.

Codependency is “the disease of the lost self.”  When you are arranging your life around the thoughts, feelings and needs of others, you completely lose touch of your own identity.  Another phrase to describe this is “people-pleasing.”  I have slowly found healing and have found my own voice through many years of reading.  Here are the books that have had tremendous impact in my life, leading me away from codependency and towards fullness and finding my identity in Christ as a beloved daughter, just as I am (listed in the order that I read them):

prodigal god

Logan’s cousin who ministers in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia gave us a copy of Tim Keller’s book, “The Prodigal God” when we were visiting over Christmas five or six years ago.  I read it aloud to Logan as we drove back to Maine, and my mind was blown away with a new understanding of this parable.  We are taught “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” but really Jesus was telling a story of two brothers whose hearts were in the same condition, one who broke all the rules and one who obeyed them all with the expectation of receiving something in return.  Jesus’ story demonstrates that both were loved by their Father with a prodigal (i.e. extravagant, generous, lavish, etc.) love.  This book began to chip away the performance, works-based religion that I was living.  I recognized my similarity to the second brother who was obeying all the rules on a conditional basis.  “I do for you…what will you do for me?”

safe-people

Around the same time, my church family was in turmoil and conflict, and I was hurting deeply because church has always been my second home and I was facing rejection and shunning that was traumatic beyond words.  I don’t remember how I found this book…but I do remember devouring it and buying copies for everyone in my family.  I had always been a trusting and open person and was for the first time realizing that there were toxic people in the church who could be abusive, controlling and manipulative.  “Safe People” describes characteristics of emotionally healthy/unhealthy individuals.

boundaries“Boundaries” taught me even better that in the name of loving others, I had drawn very loose boundaries in my life, allowing the needs of others to trump my own needs.  I was always saying “no” to myself and “yes” to others, with no limitations to what I would give up for others.  I had to learn that there are personal property rights around my physical, mental and emotional boundaries.  I do not owe other people control over my choices, feelings, thoughts, and words.  I do not need to feel selfish or guilty for saying “no” to taking others’ responsibilities on myself.

why you do the things you do book

I picked up this book, “Why You Do The Things You Do”, from my niece’s pile of books she brought home with her from college one holiday break.  This book taught me that there are two questions we all come into the world asking:  Am I worthy of love?  and Can I trust others to meet my needs?  According to our first relationships as helpless infants and into childhood, we internalize answers to these questions that affect us for the rest of our lives.  Using research and data, the authors describe four primary patterns of relating to others that stem from our upbringing in our family of origin.  In reading this book, I learned about myself and others in a powerful way, and there is  a lot of helpful information on “emotional coaching” for your own children.

daringgreatly_final525-resized-600

A couple years ago, I went through a phase of listening to several TED Talks every day while I was working, which introduced me to the amazing Vulnerability and Shame talks by Brene Brown.  So when I saw that she had written a book to share her research and findings in a comprehensive message of how to “live wholeheartedly”, I ordered it immediately, and then couldn’t put it down!  I learned to be kind to myself, to show up in life rather than cower behind insecurities and fear.  I learned priceless lessons on teaching worthiness to my children.  I learned how shame will keep you living small while vulnerability will not make your life perfect, but it will make your life great.

I know that it was God who directed me to EHS-bookCollette Pekar’s Tuesday morning Bible study.  While these books and many other videos and articles online have helped me to find healing from codependency, it was being in small group with a wise counselor who helped me to verbalize and process the things I was learning about healthy relationships that really made the greatest impact.  I cannot encourage you enough to find fellow warriors to pursue healing with.  One fall, our group read this book together by Peter Scazzero.  He demonstrates that we bring the dysfunctional patterns of our family of origin into our adult life despite our “new life” in Christ, and there is work to be done to shed the lies that keep us from living in an emotionally healthy spirituality.  In learning to do the work of chipping away these issues and in learning healthy habits of caring for yourself, you will begin to experience an abundant life!


It is our hope here at The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors that we will be a help to you in your spiritual journey, as we journey together.  Please add your recommendations for healing from codependency and other family of origin issues in the comments!  And “Like” us on Facebook for regular posts on gender issues in the world and in Christianity.  Thank you for stopping by!