I should be suspicious of what I want...

So who here among us CHERISHES being humiliated? If you are like me, even when you've come to accept that being taken down a peg or two leads to greater honest, humility and humor, you still hate it. Earlier this week, I was stunned - and angered and knocked on my ass - to find out that our church website looks like crap whenever it is pulled up on mobile devices. And just to add insult to injury, it happened during our council leadership meeting.

"What do you mean it comes up with a link to an update from October 2010?!" I heard myself saying. "I just updated it two days ago - let me see that thing"  Three separate smart phones were immediately passed my way from around the table and they all showed that same ugly, outdated and personally offensive posting. "Damn..." I said as I shook my head in disgust, "how is this possible?" And, truth be told, for the rest of the meeting this problem gnawed at me like a viscous little spiritual weasel.

Notice that no one was blaming me for this problem - I was taking that on all
by myself - because I HATE to be told I'm wrong on something I've worked so hard to get right. HATE it - although it has happened enough times for me to just sit back and laugh - I still hate it. Notice, too, that my leadership team was simply bringing me a problem that needed to be fixed. Again, no judgment was involved except... from me. And one thing more: we discerned together that the root of this problem (at least for the website) had to do with the meteoric rise of smart phone use. When our page was established 6+ years ago, only a handful of folk were using smart phones. Hell, most people in the Berkshires still did not have high speed internet connection at that time. But in six short years, the realm of technology has changed dramatically and now mobile devices are the norm rather than the exception.

So I went home and stewed... and fretted... and fussed. And after a few days - during which we updated and fixed some of the most egregious problems on the webpage and are working on the rest - two things started to rise to the surface in my heart.  First, as Richard Rohr likes to put it, my over reaction was my shadow side being exposed. In some contexts I've learned to let go and even laugh at my foolishness when this happens, but apparently not in some of my leadership roles.  And second, like T Bone Burnett likes to say, "Funny thing about humility: just when you think you are... you're not and the trap door opens!"
Rohr put it like this morning:

The closer you get to the Light, the more of your shadow you see. Thus truly holy people are always humble people. As one master teacher cleverly put it, “Avoid spirituality at all costs; it is one humiliation after another!” It could have been a great service to Christians if shadow had been distinguished from sin. Sin and shadow are not the same. We were so encouraged to avoid sin that instead many of us avoided facing our shadow, and then we “sinned” even more—while remaining unaware besides!

As Paul taught, “The angels of darkness must disguise themselves as angels of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Any idealized persona does not choose to see evil in itself, so it always disguises it as good. The shadow self invariably presents its own selfishness as something like prudence, common sense, justice, or “I am doing this for your good,” when it is actually manifesting fear, control, manipulation, or even vengeance. (The name Lucifer literally means the “light bearer.” The evil one always makes darkness look like light—and makes light look like darkness.)

Invariably when something upsets you, and you have a strong emotional reaction out of proportion to the moment, your shadow self has just been exposed. So watch for any overreactions or over-denials in yourself. When you notice them, the cock has just crowed (Mark 14:68)!

The reason that a mature or saintly person can be so peaceful, so accepting of self and others, is that there is not much hidden shadow self left. (There is always and forever a little more, however! No exceptions. Shadow work never stops.) The denied and disguised self takes so much energy to face, awaken, and transform that normally you have little energy left to project your fear, anger, or unlived life onto others.

I HATE being busted - and that means it will keep happening with such vigor and regularity until I am better able to embrace it - and learn to better let it go. I will never get it right, but I can move ever closer to making friends with my shadow.  Rumi continues to help me a lot.

Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.

I should be suspicious
of what I want.


RJ said…
thanks, my man, so looking forward to seeing you both soon!
ddl said…
Damn shadow side! Yep-- I am in the midst of this-- Your words are helpful in more ways than I can convey. And I really like the Hebrew tie-in's throughout your musings. But tell me something, do you write every day? And how the hell did you get to the point of having this kind of creative output???
RJ said…
Hey ddl - I try to write everyday - some days things click, other times not so much - but I still give it a shot. Thanks for your comments... I hope whatever comes up next is of some value, too!

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