Embrace Your Shadow

       I have been writing in recent weeks about how to take on yourself and your shadow—what to do with grief, anger, fear and anxiety, the week of 6.3.13, with our dreams and desires, 6.10.13, and with not identifying with the way we think and feel, but just observing ourselves, 6.17.13. You’ll find them archived on my website, bythewaters.net. I have tried to show practical ways for dealing with the totality of who we are. I believe it is God’s job to transform us, but our part is to acknowledge to God who we are in our totality—the good, the bad and ugly, as I like to say– in order to engage with the Spirit in our transformation. We must not hide from the human side of our selves, but we need to take ourselves on, challenging how we think, why we have trouble with this person or that one; we do need to get to the bottom of recurrent emotional states, like fear and anger, in order to know why we behave the way we do; we need to look realistically at ourselves, with a deep sense of truth about who we are and what we have done; we need to stop self-destructive or self-sabotaging behaviors that lead us to run from the truth. These needs for the truth about ourselves are essential if we are to live in truth and love with God, because when we build walls between us and the truth about ourselves, those same walls come between us and God.

       We must embrace the truth—flaws and all, if we are to have a deep relationship with God, if we are to live trusting that God is loving and forgiving towards all human beings, including ourselves, if we are to love others freely and completely like God loves us, and if we are to fulfill our very creation. The one great task of our lifetimes is to bring ourselves willingly, wholly to God. In order to do that we must acknowledge all that we are and we must embrace all that we are, really just as God sees us: human and flawed, forgiven and loved. This is not an easy process, and it can be a prolonged one, but it is so rewarding, bringing a sense of peace and relaxation within, because we’re no longer trying to hide the truth about ourselves which takes an incredible amount of energy.

       You’ve probably heard that God knows all about us anyway, so we hardly have to tell him about ourselves. And I believe that it’s true that God knows all about us, but it’s for our own sakes that we talk to God about our shortcomings, so that we are not glossing over the truth or telling half-truths about ourselves. Part of being truly humble is to really acknowledge how low we can go in an ego-driven pursuit, how very human we are. In the end we should not have any blind spots when it comes to seeing ourselves. We must know and embrace the whole truth of who we are. Then God can and will transform us into the person we were created to be.

       When we are ready to deal with the reality of who we are—no glossing over, but the real truth, then we are ready to begin a real relationship with God. Until then, we’ll be split, partially serving God and partially serving ourselves; we’ll be unable to love another without conditions and manipulation; we’ll be serving others without a personal call, just acting from a bunch of shoulds; we’ll be into looking good to God, not into being real.  When we can truly embrace ourselves and allow God in fully, then we go back to the beginning, the true beginning, where a relationship with God can begin again with our real selves, in truth, not illusion. We offer ourselves up to God for his transforming love and watch over time his healing touch working on the difficult parts of ourselves, those that need healing and those that need to be changed.

       There are now no illusions, there is only humility and gratitude and joy and serve to the One who makes everything in our lives work. There is only God and me, free of temptations, having wrestled with the devil—our own very human nature, attached as we are to our cultural paradigm—just as Jesus did in the wilderness, as he faced down the same temptations that we all face. When we are ready to truly embrace all that we are and choose God, we are ready to live life fully in God, as we were created to live.

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