Befriending our shadow
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday – Jesus I trust in you! May the mercy of God envelop us and wash away our sins, vices, weaknesses and empower us to enjoy our eternal dignity now and always, Amen.
It is true that we are all called to grow in the sight of God and humanity. Hence, Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16). One of the signs of our growth processes is the ability or grace to identify our strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths make us move and act with great trust and confidence in ourselves. What is the case with our weaknesses? They are bad and “evil” that we must deny, we must reject, we must repressed and suppressed. Sometimes we become restlessly preoccupied with them leading us into the culture of blaming ourselves, litigating ourselves, hating ourselves and wishing we become like other persons whom we think have no weaknesses. The height of the challenge is to pretend we are not our weaknesses or our weaknesses are not part of us. To this end, Deepak Chopra insightfully says, “Within everyone there is light and shadow, good and evil, love and hate. In order to be truthful, you must embrace your total being. A person who exhibits both positive and negative qualities, strengths and weaknesses is not flawed, but complete.”
The key to handling our weaknesses is awareness of them and not negating or denying them. Can you do away with your shadow that is beside you? You cannot! You only need to be aware of it. Now, the shadow we are even talking about is not that outside us, but the one within us. On a second note, “Knowing about the limitations of a system does not by itself alter them. But by being aware of the nature of the system one can make deliberate adjustments” (De Bono, 2015:13). The best adjustments to our weaknesses are self-knowledge of ourselves and the acknowledgement of the mercy of God. Jesus speaks to St. Faustina and to us “+Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy. +Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust! Such a soul professes that I am holy and just, but does not believe that I am mercy and does not trust in my goodness. Even the devils glorify my Justice but do not believe in My Goodness.”
In order to opt for a change of our weaknesses into strengths, let us befriend them (our shadow). Acceptance is key to change not denial, regret, self-pity and unnecessary agitation. Thus a reminder about the powerful attribute of God – Mercy which in our age has been made manifest by Jesus Christ the Divine Mercy Incarnate. Approach His throne of mercy and surrender your weaknesses to be transformed into strengths. Remember that for every known weakness there is a corresponding strength. Jesus – I trust in you! Fr. John-Mary Atep.