“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
― LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN (1889–1951)
THE SHADOW, in Jungian psychology terms, is the unacknowledged part of us. It’s a repressed self; a self that lingers backward from our childhood; lodged permanently in the place of our souls. The shadow is enshrined in an identity that falls somewhat short of the glory of God that was intended for us to both enjoy and to contribute to life.
First of all, we need to recognise that the perfect antidote to the shadow identity – either or both the false or unacknowledged self – is the Christ identity that is nurtured within.
This is the role and responsibility of the Christian – to allow the Spirit of God to nurture from within us, the identity of Christ. As part of that process, we need to acknowledge the core strength of the shadow identity in taking us away from the serene sense of self – our identity in Christ.
The key to revealing the false self is being open to analyse the truth about ourselves, as well as acknowledging the unacknowledged self – that part of self we so easily deny or pass over.
It’s really about being vulnerable to the truth – to what matter God brings before us for mental, emotional and spiritual reconciliation. Yes, we are becoming more complete – more mature – more truth-worthy persons. We are becoming more Christlike as we wrangle with our shadow identity – that which is in opposition to the identity God purposed for us from the beginning.
Wrestling with Truth Requires Courage
This is a humbling thing to consider: wrestling with the truth about our inner selves – that which has caused us brokenness – will require much courage. Owning what has made us less than God intended – whether it’s our fault or not – is a key in moving on past the shadow identity and into the truer self, when we identify ourselves in Christ.
This is no easy thing to initiate or sustain: to be honest with ourselves.
But it can be done when we are ruthlessly authentic; honouring an inner integrity that acknowledges God can free us if we will just own our weaknesses, our fears, our failures, our frustrations, and our follies.
To be freed is to be free indeed. The truth will set us free, but we must also acknowledge there are bounds we are not aware of. The good news is there is more freedom to take hold of than we can comprehend.
Acknowledging the presence of our shadow identity frees us from being constrained to a fuller identity in Christ. Owning the truth propels us from the shadow identity to the fuller, integral identity in Christ. Healing the shadow identity is possible when we shine the light of truth over our entire lives.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.