In his book Make Friends with Your Shadow, Dr. Miller makes a provocative claim:
“Movement towards the achievement of wholeness or completeness (or “perfection” in the sense of Jesus’ use of the Greek word telios) is accomplished not only through the continued infusion of goodness, righteousness, and morality, but also through the “owning” and conscious incorporation of one’s dark and shadowy side into one’s self. I am not a complete person until I incorporate into my conscious self that dark side of my person which is every bit a part of me as is that bright self which I parade before the world.”
This type of activity goes against the grain of our desire to “look good” to the world around us. How much energy do we expend trying to conceal the undesirable part of who we are? We somehow got it in our head that an authentic Christian should appear to be unblemished—should create the illusion of perfection in the sense of appearing to be flawlessness.
Could it be that perfection has more to do with authenticity—being “real”—than it does with pretending to be something we’re not?
There are times when we’re surprised to hear how “one of our own” has been swept away into a sinful scenario. And then we remember we have been swept away too, maybe not in a public way, but swept away just the same. It’s happened to me. Looking back on those times, I can see how I set myself up to fall by allowing my pride to get in the way of being real. I pretended everything was good when it wasn’t. I denied the truth about my shadow.
And we all have a shadow. It’s an area of vulnerability within us. It might be a tendency to twist the truth, or possibly it’s an evil imagination, or a secret prejudice. It could be a secret craving for an illicit pleasure. Or maybe it’s a bitter tongue. Or laziness.
I realize it seems terribly risky, but when we are committed to living life in the flow of God’s Spirit, we must become transparent. We must acknowledge the “dark” side of our thought life, and the ungodliness of our inclinations. It is imperative we embrace the truth of who we are, and be willing to take the risk of letting someone we trust walk with us as we make friends with our shadow.