Sunday, November 21, 2010

Allowing Our Darker Part-Selves

"Christian spirituality involves acknowledging all our part-selves*, exposing them to God's love and letting him weave them into the new person he is making. To do this we must be willing to welcome these ignored parts as full members of the family of self, giving them space at the family table and slowly allowing them to be softened and healed by love and integrated into the whole person we are becoming."~D.Brenner The Gift of Being Yourself

*Part-selves refers to the different aspects of our personality, for example our: prideful-self, playful-self, competitive-self, cautious-self, confident-self, deceitful-self...etc.

So often we try to suppress or avoid those aspects in our personality that are seemingly less desirable. For example, sadness. Sadness is something that we as a society, let alone as Christians, try to supress or avoid. However, if we do not express ourselves, if we do not allow God to minister to our hurts and wounds, we end up building a dam of poison that eventually consumes us.

It is here, in this place of woundedness that I want to pause. Speaking to the Christians reading this now, I want to say that it is in this place we often fail our brothers and sisters.

You see, we like to fix things. We like to have everything nice, peaceful, happy, and pretty. No messes, no trouble, no controversy. "Good" is what we aim for. We have in our minds the ideal lifestyle for us and for our brothers and sisters. Anything outside of our ideal we must fix or remove regardless of what may be best for the person and/or God's plan for that person's life.

I would like to think that we have the best of intentions when we try to "fix" others, but in our haste to do good we often lose compassion, understanding, let alone the ability to hear the Holy Spirit's guidance. It is the trials and tribulations of the individual that God uses to refine ourselves and others. It is not an exclusive individual process - yes, but not exclusive. To deny or supress the "part-selves" in ourselves and in others cheats us out of developing our full potential. Think of Peter and the process of denial (John 13 and 18) and his reconciliation with Jesus (John 21). This is an example of Peter's pride-self jumping right in to express itself, and express itself it did, leaving a mark of internal pain that was left with Peter until Jesus saw fit to bring it full circle with healing and reconciliation...and new potential. In the meantime, those surrounding Peter would have seen the effect of his pride-self in action and they may have even tried to console him or make things better by their own power...perhaps...But it wouldn't have been their good intentions that would bring Peter into a place of newness and hope, it would be Jesus. For we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom.8:28

God's ways and God's timing are not ours. Oftentimes, the Holy Spirit works in ways that leave us absolutely stunned...But to be sure, we can trust that He is at work in us even in the darkest times and in the darkest parts of our selves.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.~Ephesians 4:2

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