I have a confession. A deep secret boils in the caliginous recesses of my mind, and it lures me and torments me simultaneously. I long to hold it close for the gratification of my flesh, but I'm even more compelled to let it go in order to protect my spirit. Never before have I physically felt the war between good and evil raging the way I do now. In one direction, I hear God gently whisper (I Kings 19:12) return to me (Joel 2:12) and in the other, a seductive voice calls out to me from the darkness that is my shadow. Carl Jung described the allegorical shadow as the "hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors and so comprise the whole historical aspect of the unconscious...". Until recently, I had never fully explored mine, at least not intentionally, and as I have begun to open myself up to its existence, I now know why. For most of my Christian walk, I've ignored its pull and even denied it, but as Dr. Stephen Diamond said "The shadow is most destructive, insidious and dangerous when habitually repressed...". This, I know to be true because once the restraint has been lifted, sin will undoubtedly ensue. More than once lately I have been caught in the snare of my own unconscious turned conscious desires, and like the opening of Pandora's Box, the invitation to the shadow to become center stage can give full vent to the most gruesome consequences.
What, then shall we say? Should we continue in ignorance of the shadow's urges? No, we should know full well what it wants that we may be prepared to give an answer when the time comes (1 Peter 3:15). To be clear, the shadow is not to be avoided, but embraced for the purpose of assimilation or integration. I'm not there yet. I'm still navigating its depths, trying desperately not to fall completely under. No matter how badly I misstep, however, and I often do, somehow I know that Genesis 28:15 is true when God says "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go." If that wasn't enough, Isaiah 41:13 says "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." I'm not getting it right everyday, but when it's all said and done, Proverbs 19:21 says that "many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." This, too, I know to be true and as I continue on this journey of exploration and deeper self awareness as a therapist, I rest on Exodus 14:14 that says I need only be still for "the Lord will fight" for me. What confessions do you have and to what or whom does your shadow cry out? Don't run from it, engage to understand it and let God help you overcome it. (Romans 8:37).