Irritation with what is plagues my life.

Ironically it seems that the more luminous and exalted my vision of the way life could be, the more I struggle with the way it actually is. This is why Christians in particular so often get it backwards. Jung writes:

4. As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.

Instead of befriending my dark side, I look at my demons with judgment and contempt. I say to them, “Raca,” “You fools.” Instead of seeing the gift in my demons, I reject them and fight against them. Or, I simply pretend these dark aspects of my personality do not exist. I put on a happy face, determined to do better and struggle to be a “good boy.”

Rejection, denial and warfare never work. They only drive my demons deeper underground into the shadowland of my unconscious. And the deeper they go, the stronger they grow. The one thing my demons cannot stand is the light.

When the man in “the country of the Gerasenes” who “had demons” met Jesus, he recognized immediately that his demons were being exposed to the light. He sought to escape the luminous presence he encountered in the person of Jesus saying,

What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me. (Luke 8:28)

The demon-possessed man was tormented by the presence of light he perceived in Jesus. He felt exposed, known, seen for what he truly was.

Am I willing to be exposed, even to myself? Or am I determined to hide? Do I seek to live in some fantasy-land of spiritual perfection and bliss that I know in my heart is never an adequate picture of any human experience of life? Or, am I willing to let my demons do their work in me? Am I willing to embrace the dark shadow-side of my personality and allow it to break me open to the deeper reality of my true nature?

The reality is that, if I am going to become more fully the person I am intended to be, I need the refining friction of my shadow side. I must never reject, punish, condemn, or fight against those parts of my personality with which I struggle. When I embrace the discomfort of the dark, I open to the gifts of light, depth, compassion, wisdom, and strength that reside beneath the friction that will always disturb the surface of my life.

Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

My poverty is the path to enlightenment. I need to keep my poverty close at hand. It reminds me that life is not a problem to be fixed. I am not a conundrum that needs to be solved. I am a combination of brokenness and beauty. I am a complex amalgam of struggle and stillness, noise and silence. I do not need to seek deliverance from some dilemma. I need to find the gift and strength that hide in the heart of darkness that will always remain part of my reality until I finally come to dwell in the fullness of light beyond this mortal frame.