Everyone has a shadow.
Shadows are those untamed emotions and behaviors. They may be sinful; they may simply be weaknesses. Most importantly, they lie concealed just beneath the surface of our more proper selves. They may erupt in judgmental perfectionism, outbursts of anger, jealousy, resentments, lusts, greed, or murderous tendencies.
At other times, they emerge through our need to rescue people, our seemingly endless need to be noticed, our inability to stop working, our isolation, or our rigidity.
Our shadows are the damaged versions of who we are. They are the behaviors we use to protect ourselves from actually changing. We keep them hidden because they make us feel so vulnerable.
- Churches and organizations can develop a “shadow mission.” We want to reach people for Jesus Christ. That is good. The shadow of that is: “We are here to grow our numbers.”
- Many of us have wonderful public gifts in speaking and mobilizing people. That is good. The shadow is our insatiable need for affirmation.
- We value excellence. That is good. The shadow is when it crosses into perfectionism, doesn’t allow for mistakes, and creates a secondary feeling of heaviness around us.
- We are zealous for God’s truth and right doctrine. That is good. The shadow is our lack of love towards those who don’t agree with us.
There are two ways to face your shadow. The first is to proactively look at the factors in your family of origin that have contributed to your shadow. The second is to ignore it until you hit a Wall and the pain is so great you have no choice.
I prefer the first.