RECENTLY, a dear friend of mine prayed that there might be a rich deposit made by God in me to mark my turning 50. It was a prayer that coalesced with God’s own voice which I’ve been hearing for some time. And it just may be you, too, have been hearing Him speak this thing, all-be-it unconsciously.
God has been showing me two different things over the past few years — my gift and my shadow. That gift He has given me is a compensation for what I’ve been through. But the shadow is the dark, human, sinful side of that gift that protrudes when I take my eyes off Jesus.
My gift is this: God gave me a passion and equipped me for joining others on their journey — “to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to mourn with those who mourn,” as Romans 12:15 puts it. I know my gift is to be used to unlock or facilitate victories of connection, where the Divine Presence is felt in human experience, where there is the discovery of deeper truths, where encounters of contemplative and transformational spirituality take place. And reconciliation is usually the purpose for which people come to be served by me. It’s a ministry that is seamless and involves me just being me.
My shadow is this: my flesh (my ego) gives me a similar passion, but the passion, when it’s directed awry, is skewed back toward myself; where my shadow protrudes into my life I need to be loved, accepted, understood, appreciated, praised, respected. I look outward to leaders and peers for these things, instead of upward to God and inward for reflection. I don’t typically seek these things from those I serve, but validation is sought from those whose influence (I perceive) is typically greater than mine. God certainly knows I need these victories of connection. But I can go about them the wrong way, looking to humans to do what only God can do.
That’s the difference between the gift and the shadow; the gift prevails effortlessly, because God is in it and being used by God as gift is always a pleasure. It doesn’t seem like work at all. But just like humans would be cursed to labour at and after the Fall, the shadow toils relentlessly to get what it can never have. The shadow enters futility, but the Divine embodies the gift.
The first fifty years has been about receiving the nucleus of the message. The next portion is about acquisition, more and more; piquing the awareness of the shadow’s protrusion as it becomes the mastery of poise. But I will never fully be there.
I thank God for the awareness of, and increasing mastery over, the shadow that will always be there. I thank God because I need God.
Thank God for your gift, and be open to your shadow.