Rise and Shine! (on the Dark Side)
By Terrie C
This is part one of two on this subject. I apologize if that is inconvenient, and part two will include a link to part one, but my heart’s desire is to prompt you to ponder the material a bit. A quick solution often cheats us out of the pondering, which is an important step in understanding.. Let’s ponder together, shall we?
“Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.”
My love affair with words began in 1980 when I was in the tenth grade, inspired by a teacher who loved words, too. It was then that I first read the above quote. It was one that bored right into my soul, instantly memorized for the rest of my life. It was profound, I instinctively knew (wisdom) but I lacked the life experience (understanding) to know exactly how profound it was.
Skip ahead about 35 years, and I had the concept of the quote challenged by Christianity. I wasn’t battling myself, but the “original sin” I was born with. A mark against me already…. before I was old enough to act. So it stood to reason, didn’t it (?), that since I had “accepted” a certain “savior” that my original sin had been wiped out. Gone…poof…white as snow. Yet there I was alone at night, acutely aware that my darker half remained. She’s fat and mouthy, with her thoughts set on herself. I sought advice from those “older in faith” than I was. They explained to me that I was experiencing thoughts and feelings given me by that “old devil” named Satan (Capital S). They told me that a war was raging between my God and that devil for my soul. My sin, Christianity explained, was conquered by an acceptable sacrifice. Not only my original sin and the sins I committed that very day, but any future sin I would ever commit. “Resist the devil” they told me, “and he will flee.” Oh, the time I spent rebuking that devil! Worrying that he was powerful enough to deceive me. A formidable adversary that could “steal” my soul away from YHVH. I can “shake my head” now, but then it was a serious issue for me.
I briffed right over all the Scriptures that said God had no equal (even though it’s the Tanakh’s common theme) and lived in fear of this devil. I was on constant guard, because this devil was wandering about, looking for folks like me to devour. Or so I thought. I didn’t realize then that my greatest adversary lived right inside of me. She was (is) part of me! In denying her existence and looking externally for my enemy, I had no opportunity to confront her, or to grow in my own self-discipline, discernment or self-knowledge. I am not saying I have no adversary in the external world, or even in the invisible realm. I do. But the only adversary who can turn me away from The Almighty lives in me. She is a piece of me. We’ll have to jump ahead ten years for that day to come when I finally looked at this piece of myself in the mirror.
When I tore the “back half” of my Bible out, (stopped using the “NT”) it was easy to see that “free will” by its very definition means that we are as capable of committing evil as we are to commit a good deed. The components of each reside right inside each of us. Perhaps it is when we deny these darker components that we are, in fact, “feeding” them. Instead, we should be calling this part of ourselves “to the carpet” to confront its components. Our components.
In identifying and acknowledging this part of ourselves, we can utilize it, instead of feeding it. We can “Rise and Shine” on our dark side! On my next post, I will share some of the ways I have found to use my darker side to feed my light, instead of casting shadows on it. Until then, I have some “homework” for you, if you’re interested in confronting the darker pieces within yourself and owning them, instead of them owning you. Have an honest talk with yourself about the darkness that lurks in your own heart. It is the other half of your free will; a piece of who you are. Take your time. Take note of when this part rears its head, or even opens your mouth. You don’t have to share your findings with anyone, and God already knows about them, so pull out all the stops and excuses. If you’re one to journal, you might even make a two-sided list of your qualities like I did. I wrote “Light” on one half of the page and “Darkness” on the other and listed each component of myself accordingly. I’m excited to tell you about what I learned from my list, but I’ll wait for part two of this post. It’s more important for you to see what you can see from your own list, whether it’s written or not!
“See” you next time. Until then, Rise and Shine!