Hello, Shadow

I know I’m late on this, but here we are: 2017!
But also, I’m not late if I consider that the Chinese New Year is this week.

Hopefully you guys have kept your New Years resolution so far. (And if you haven’t, you can try again with the Chinese New Year!)

Recently, we got our son his umpteenth bubble machine — you know those things that automatically blow hundreds of bubbles.

His joy over those bubbles was so great and contagious, I felt compelled to take a video. I posted it on Facebook asking, “Someone teach me to be this happy.”
I’ve written many times how N overflows with joy over the smallest of things since the beginning of our journey. I’ve been consistently praying that we do all that we can to have him always be that joyful — that we won’t help in stealing his joy away from him. Because the world already does a great job of joy-stealing.

It’s inevitable that our hearts become hardened a bit; that as we grow older cynicism, jadedness, bitterness creeps into our hearts and souls and that we become pessimistic — some more than others. We see things that we can’t unsee. We experience things that leave permanent scars.

So I was a bit serious when asking, “Someone teach me to be this happy” over even the insignificant of things. Help me be joyful. Always.

This year, I’m going to work on bringing a little bit more light into my world. To bring a bit more joy in my heart and soul. And I think one way of doing this is what Richard Rohr described: saying hello to my shadow each day.

He writes in Jesus’ Plan for a New World that I should make sure that I nod to my shadow each day — acknowledging its existence. To give myself some gentle recognition that yes, I am also “lazy, ordinary, sensual — whatever it may be— because when you repress the shadow too rigorously it will always come out indirectly anyway. Everybody else can see it but you.”

I must first recognize the plank in my eye before trying to remove the speck from my neighbor’s. But actually, I’m starting to believe that if I work on removing the plank from my own eye first and foremost, I either will be too busy to notice the speck in others or quit looking for a speck altogether.
Rohr continues,

Once you see that what you hate over there is largely a projection of what’s in here, an attempt to maintain yourself in superiority, then you can’t be overly rigorous. Rigorism usually is tied up with a strong ability to repress what you don’t see, the dark side.

He also adds that being judgmental is often a means of control and not means of looking for the truth. “It’s a means of securing the self or undoing other by categorizing them.”

What I basically take away from all that is: I have so much baggage to unpack, organize, toss out, reorganize — I ain’t got time to worry about what you’re going to do with your baggage.

I have a quote from Gandhi (regardless of if he really said it or not) next to the door in my office to serve as a reminder: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

It’s easier said than done.
Because it’s easier to focus all of my time, effort, and energy in changing you to make the world a better place. But that will accomplish nothing. And no redeeming change will come about from me trying to change you; from me acknowledging the speck in your eye while ignoring the plank in mine.

What I’m absolutely certain of is that I can’t control the actions of anyone else. What I can control are my actions and my responses to others.

I’m convinced that working on sanding down the plank in my eye will help bring light and joy to my heart, my soul, and my world — because the surest way of getting rid of the dark side is to shine light on it by admitting it’s there in the first place.

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