Friday, 21 March 2014

Sensing Lent 15: Shadow

Shadows seem to have a hard time in the collective imagination, though visually I'm quite a fan.

Associations with things dark and shady mean we prefer light to shadow and we fear what might lurk in the shadows.

Psychology speaks of the shadow side of personality and I've been wondering how this idea links with biblical anthropology.

One of the problems with an over moralised version of Christianity is to focus on outward behaviour (obey this rule, follow these guidelines etc.) whilst neglecting what's going on inside. It's much easier to 'behave yourself' than to be transformed from the inside, with all the murkiness that might be lurking there. But we need to explore and expose the shadows nonetheless.

Or, switching to psychology, the shadow side is the underused parts of our personality. Thinking about the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) this would mean, for example, that if you had a preference for Extroversion, looking outwards and being stimulated by externals, exploring your shadow would mean withdrawing and looking inwards for a change. 

And if you tended to think before feeling, you would want to embrace the feeling side of you, even if it seemed somewhat scary to do so. And those of us who make quick judgements and like routine and predictability would want to become more open ended and 'go with the flow' (dreadful thought...)

Finally, as I'm trying this Lent, 'iNtuitives' who love abstract theorising and the big picture, would pay more attention to their 5 senses and try and live in the moment more.

In Jungian thought (which is roughly what the MBTI is based on) far from being something to fear and avoid, the shadow side could prove to be the place of most creativity and growth.

I suppose biblically, coming to terms with the shadowy stuff inside and exposing it to the light and love of Christ would be what we call sanctification. 

I suspect sanctification and shadow befriending are linked, but I'm not sure how. One thing's for sure, you can't see the shadows without the light.

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