Facing My Shadows
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
The following entry is from an old personal blog entry of mine titled "Jesus in My Attic" in Journey of the Heart. It is a reflection that derived from the incident which I share in podcast Episode 7 - Be Curious, Courageous and Compassionate with Yourself dated Wednesday 4 November, 2020. Listen to it here.
I used to avoid my inner demons. Those dark thoughts and feelings that I keep hidden from everyone, even from my conscious self. But ever since I gave myself to Christ, I’ve found that He has an annoying habit of inviting me to visit this ‘attic space’ in my soul and showing me what’s inside.
I cover my face in horror at some of the unwholesome, unChrist-like traits that are present in me. I can’t bear to see what He’s drudging up
I cringe at the stench and filth of resentment, jealously, possessiveness, fear, insecurity and pride that fills the room. But Jesus? He always walks blithely in and starts moving things around. I cover my face in horror at some of the unwholesome, unChrist-like traits that are present in me. I can’t bear to see what He’s drudging up. “Eww… that’s in me? No way… I suck…”And I begin to sink into gloom as I always do.
But Him? He’s having a good time mopping things up! He peels my fingers off my face and gets me to take a good look at what he’s cleaning up. “See? Nothing to be afraid of. Just a little dust.” ‘Just a little dust’? Are you kidding me, Lord? Have you SEEN what’s there?! All my life I had kept this dirty attic secret. I didn’t want anyone to go there – much less God.
God had been quietly living there – quietly because he didn’t want to upset me since I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the attic.
Heck, I didn’t even acknowledge its existence. Couldn’t deal with it. But God had been quietly living there – quietly because he didn’t want to upset me since I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the attic. He would come out and meet me in the sunny living room which was neat and tidy, and which I was proud of. But really, he made his home in the attic.
Ever since I agreed to acknowledge this attic in my house, He has been bringing me there more and more often. I still don’t relish these visits because each one is so painful. I always end up seeing things I hate to see or acknowledge in myself. But it’s there. I hate going into the attic and facing my demons. There are so many – more than I know; more than I want to know. But Jesus is very matter-of-fact.
“This what I came for. To clean out your attic. To dust things off and reveal the treasures that are hidden in your attic!”
I’m skeptical. Treasures? Really? These filthy, bug-infested things?
“Nothing in your house is ever junk, you know.”
But I’m afraid of the shadows. They’re so long and so dark.
“Where there is shadow, there is also light. I want to show you what the light reveals – you see only the shadow that is cast but not the treasure that casts the shadow. You have to stop being afraid of the shadow before I can show you the treasure.”
Well, I still haven’t gotten to the point of seeing what the treasures are. Most of the time I’m still fearful and hateful of what’s in the attic. But lately I’ve been more willing to go in and face my demons. And there are so many of them. There’s something deliciously liberating about looking unflinchingly at my darkest and ugliest thoughts and telling them to God straight. No censorship, no excuses.
I bare my naked, tainted self to Him – a self I still struggle to accept. Taking a deep breath, I lift my chin challengingly at Him and state,“This. Is. Me.” Take a good hard look, Jesus, at how ugly and dirty I am. How can you possibly want this?
He doesn’t bat an eyelid. He takes my hand, looks me straight in the eye and replies, “I. Love. You.”
Alright, Jesus. You win. I love you too. And I believe that one day, no matter how impossible it seems, I’ll learn to love myself as you do.