October 11, 2022
This past weekend we visited family in Nebraska, including our niece and her husband. We had dinner in their lovely new home, and I have a confession. I had an extreme case of pantry envy. Kitchen envy, too.
Their pantry is the size of my kitchen. Need I say more?
And it was organized, spacious, and beautiful.
I was in love. Or should I say, IN ENVY.
Envy is not an unknown feeling for me. I am an enneagram FOUR and envy is the “sin” or “passion” of this personality type. In this case “sin” is not meant to be viewed as something bad or evil, but rather as the tendency to miss the mark in some way. When experiencing the sin or passion, we lose our center and are not our best selves.
Envy and the Enneagram
First a word about the enneagram.
The enneagram is an ancient system of self-understanding and self-discovery; a tool for personal transformation and development. Pronounced “ANY-a-gram,” the enneagram is a geometric figure that maps out nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex relationships.
My husband and I were introduced by a friend to the enneagram many years ago and studying it, returning to its subtleties and complexities over and over has been life-enhancing. The key step is to determine which of the nine personality types one is. After being introduced to the types, I knew almost immediately that I am a FOUR: an individualist or some times called the romantic or artist.
Envy is the sin or passion of the four.
Envy is based on the feeling that something is missing. Envy leads Fours to feel that others possess qualities that they lack. Fours long for what is absent but often fail to notice the many blessings in their lives.The Wisdom of the Enneagram, The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types, by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.
They see immediately who has more style, more class, more taste, more talent, more unusual ideas, more genius than they do. They see who is simpler, more natural, more normal, and ‘healthier’ than they are. There is nothing that a FOUR couldn’t be envious about.The Enneagram, A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert
Envy has been an issue in my life, for sure. And while I am not able to say it has disappeared nor have I conquered the green-eyed monster, but I am more apt to recognize it quickly and ask, “What is this about and why am I feeling this now?” Plus, I am more able to turn the feeling into gratitude for my own blessings and to honor the gifts in someone else’s life.
So here’s how my pantry envy evolved.
What happened first was genuine delight for my niece. She and her husband had waited a long time for their dream house, and they had worked hard to make it happen. Bravo to them. In addition, how fun it was to see my niece’s hometending skills, her creativity, ingenuity, and her love of beauty, and I hope I expressed my appreciation for her gifts.
Then I sat with what I was experiencing within myself. Here’s what I uncovered:
I am living in what is sure to be my last house. I assume wherever I live next I will have a kitchen, but chances are it will be smaller and simpler, more basic than what I have now. This is because I am in my mid 70’s and closer to the end of my life than the beginning. I have had many kitchens –some bigger, some smaller–than my current kitchen and I have cooked and entertained no matter the size or the design, but I realize I no longer do that on the scale I once did. I feel some sadness about that. I know it is time to let go of some of that need. How grateful I am for all the times we have gathered family and friends around our table. How grateful I am for the ability to feed others and ourselves and to never lack for food in our home.
My envy opened me just a bit more to what I still store in my inner pantry, and that is a good thing.
By the way, my current pantry, which is a closet a couple steps down from the kitchen, is adequate. More than adequate for my current needs, and I need to remember that. It could use a bit tidying, however. I will put that on my list.
What moments of envy do you experience and how can they be a teacher? I would love to know.
If you are interested in the enneagram, I highly recommend the Riso and Hudson book I quoted. Also, you can take a test at https://www.bestenneagramtest.com/enneagram-test-how-can-i-find-out-my-enneagram-type?gclid=Cj0KCQjwhY-aBhCUARIsALNIC07jjnNA_X_HrH9lNQdBDKXoPBsrWeDvITTlnE0DmY_Djx4qJ4_NBCEaAiFWEALw_wcB OR https://mypersonality.net/quiz?afid=gdnmps&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhY-aBhCUARIsALNIC06glsDnVpEU2cYZ57KvpeykthSx5vfm7ZF01bWCnk_u6VGSKENcuH4aAolZEALw_wcB