Workers preparing for the presidential inauguration have taped over the name of the company – Don’s Johns” – that has long supplied portable restrooms. The name apparently strikes too close to home for the organizers of the inauguration of Donald John Trump. Workers have placed blue tape over the company name on dozens of portable restrooms installed near the Capital of the inauguration. The company does not know who did the cover up, saying, “We’re proud to have name on the units.”
I was struggling with this blog, when I read this short piece at Fox News online. I was wanting to write about our “shadow,” those parts of our personality that we try to eliminate from consciousness, which keep popping up, even though we spend a lot of energy denying their presence in our personality. The port-a-potty gave me a way to grab the attention of some men. Men, it is a danger to our spiritual growth to attempt to eliminate unacceptable aspects of our personality by living in denial. AA has a saying – “You are as sick as your secrets.” Always remember God loves you in your stink, even hidden stink.
Richard Rohr in his discussion of the shadow references Jesus’ words in Matt. 5:25-26 to help visualize the consequences of our faulty shadow boxing. “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move, make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine” ( Message). Men, our shadow is the “old enemy” whom we need to befriend, or else we will become captive to our shadow and “won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny ( (NLT).
Our shadow is not necessarily sinful, but rather can be experienced as unwanted and undesirable, having been sent into exile as part of our spiritual cover-up. While we will always be in the process of conversion due to our fallen nature, we should not confuse sinfulness for being seen as undesirable. Shame and sadness can be the result. This has been difficult for me. The more I have learned to walk in the light the more my dark side has been exposed. “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible” (Eph. 5:13-14). Shadow boxing – coming to terms with our illusive shadow self can be a humiliating practice. It take courage to welcome home exiled, unwanted parts of our personality.
I had built an image of myself as wanting to be a spiritual “super-hero.” I lived in denial of my shadow self, wasting a lot of energy in self-denial, while living in the fear that my inner darkness would continue to ambush my attempts to be spiritual. I finally realized that some of the guilt I was confessiong was not over my real sin, but rather my confusion over those “lost fragments” of my inner life that I did not want to acknowledge. It was not guilt, but sadness that I felt.
Men, I have experienced more freedom, a spiritual lightness, now that I have been willing to embrace more of my shadow. My advice is to welcome those lost members of your personality home. By all means, do not fight with these members, trying to eliminate them, but rather show hospitality by being gentle with yourself. A key to your progress in this spiritual endeavor is the ability to have a sense of humor about your treatment of your shadow.