Forty Days on Being a Nine – Marlena Graves

Forty Days on Being a Nine Marlena Graves
Forty Days on Being a Nine by Marlena Graves
Series: Enneagram Daily Reflections
Published by IVP on February 23, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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"Why do you hold back?" Enneagram Nines are often asked questions like this by others who want to invite them to share their gifts. Marlena Graves describes her own experience with deciding whether to speak up: "I know what it's like to be run over and rendered invisible. I don't want to do the same to others." Nines are easy to be around because they seem to instinctively put others before themselves. In these readings Marlena reflects on what it's like to be a Nine with a spirit of honest self-assessment and a desire for personal and spiritual growth. She draws wisdom from the deep wells of both counseling and spirituality, using illustrations from Scripture and life. She writes out of her personal context, drawing on the lessons learned from her Puerto Rican Abuelita and from growing up in poverty. But she also writes for all of us. Each reading concludes with an opportunity for further engagement such as a journaling prompt, reflection questions, a written prayer, or a spiritual practice. Any of us can find aspects of ourselves in any of the numbers. The Enneagram is a profound tool for empathy, so whether or not you are a Nine, you will grow from your reading about Nines and enhance your relationships across the Enneagram spectrum.

Forty Days on Being a Nine shares brief reflections about how Christians who type as Nines in the Enneagram personality system can move towards a state of emotional and spiritual health in their everyday lives. The daily readings are typically two or three pages long, and are quick perspectives that pack a punch, ending with reflection questions or personal practices that readers can consider. The readings are all written by the same person, Marlena Graves, and she is a gracious and thoughtful guide, grounding her insights in concrete personal experiences. How much someone connects with this devotional may be dependent on how much they relate to her, but overall, the readings engage with themes that are relevant to anyone who shares her core motivations and core fears, as identified within this personality type.

Personal Evaluation

I enjoyed reading Forty Days on Being a Nine. I type as a One, but that devotional collection has not yet released, and I enjoyed starting with this book about Nines, which is my wing type. Reading this enriched my perspective on my own life, and I realized how much I have behaved and thought like a Nine in the past, especially back when I felt invisible and overlooked in my first youth group. I also enjoyed learning from the author, as she shared about her experiences growing up in poverty, experiencing life as a Latina woman, and engaging in various ministry jobs in her adult life. She also shares reflections about marriage and parenting, but does so without sidelining single readers or people in other stages of life. In my opinion, she does a great job of balancing memoir elements with general reflections that any Nine can relate to.

Audience Considerations

However, one thing that readers should know is that even though this is an overtly Christian book, only some of the readings directly incorporate Scripture. Christians who are looking for a Bible-based devotional should use this as supplementary reading, because even though Graves writes about spiritual concerns and occasionally quotes from Bible verses, this book primarily offers personal reflection. The short readings are perfect for busy people who don’t have time to fit a longer book into their day, but even though someone can describe this book as a devotional, it is not a replacement for a book that provides readings from the Bible.

Overall, this is a great book for Enneagram Nines, people who love them, and readers who are fans of Marlena Graves. However, if someone wants to share this with a friend or family member whom they think they think might be a Nine, they should know that this book does not offer a detailed explanation of the Enneagram system or this specific type. If someone who is excited about this personality system wants to share it with their loved ones, I would encourage them to gauge people’s interest and start elsewhere, with a general introduction to this system and the blessings of self-understanding that it can bring. This book does not explain or persuade, but speaks to people who are already invested in the Enneagram system.