The Shadow Side

On Monday, I wrote about the spiritual practice called the Examen.  In that post, I also referenced learning to get more in touch with my dark side, or shadow side.

Here’s a real life story of my shadow-side that I thought I’d share, not because it’s overly dramatic, but because it’s human.


Last week, my roommate and I went to a movie, then decided that dairy free fro yo would make a good dinner.  As we sat outside she began talking about how great summer vacation would be, about school, about her students.  I listened, I asked questions that drew out more information from her, yet underneath there was this subtle jealousy, this sadness that I didn’t want to name.

I tried to mask it, yet in the car on the way home I couldn’t find words to say.

So eventually, later that night, I just said that tutoring behind the scenes in a tiny cubicle is still hard for me.  It’s hard for me to tell myself day after day that my job matters, because it receives much less public recognition.  I’m struggling in giving up power and recognition that comes with urban education.

And yet I said, “I can’t blame other people.  This is about me learning to give up control, set aside what I thought my life would be like.”

I failed in the moment to rejoice with Chels, to honor how hard she has worked, to look forward with her to her summer vacation.  I was stuck, stuck because I’m still in the middle of my own struggles, doubts and fears.

Upon realizing these emotions and tensions in myself, I have much to learn in the coming months.

So as I sit with these emotions and feelings in upcoming examens, I am asking:

  • How can I seek to rejoice when others are rejoicing?
  • How do I daily hear the Lord’s voice and Him telling me that I matter and what I do matters?
  • How do I express my sadness appropriately, yet still see the great blessings and provisions of my life?

How does your shadow side manifest itself in daily life? Do you seek to hide from your shadow side or accept it as a teacher?


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