The question God asks us when we die

Image of the moon with most in shadow. Quote from Father John Clay, "As difficult as it is for me to acknowledge my shadow, I do find it helpful to pray and ask God to help me see myself as I truly am."

The gospel this week covered the Pharisees complaining to Jesus about his disciples not washing his hands properly. Father Dennis rightly called them out on focusing more on manners than on people. (Though in our current context, I understand why they’d get the heebee jeebees about people not washing their hands.)

And Father Dennis said, “When we die, God isn’t going to ask us about he we sinned. He’s going to ask us about how we loved.”

When we die, God isn’t going to ask us about how we sinned. He’s going to ask us about how we loved.

I’ve been learning a lot over the last few years about feeling all my feelings – rather than shining in the good ones and hiding or denying the bad ones. Seeing all of me and feeling my feelings in their entirety is one way I love: I am better to myself, to my husband, and children and everyone else I love, when I’m not pretending I’m fine or denying that I feel anger or judgment.

So much is so complex, and I figure if I start off being honest with myself about myself, I have a better shot at meeting people where they are. And if I can do that maybe I can be more loving all around.

Shadow self and how we meditate

We continue with the shadow and meditation. Difficult as it is for me to acknowledge my shadow, I do find it helpful to pray and ask God to help me see myself as I truly am. I know that this will reveal a lot of ugly stuff. It is good, though, because that little bit of willingness gives God an opening to work in me.

I used the example of anger in our shadow. There are many things that we can put in our shadow, things that we so cleverly rationalize. Here are some; they are not bad in themselves. When they are put into the shadow, they become destructive.

  • My feelings of superiority
  • My feeling of inferiority
  • My anger
  • My sexual desires
  • My greed
  • My gluttony
  • My envy and gluttony
  • My envy and jealousy
  • My laziness
  • My fear
  • My desire to control
  • My need for “me first.”
  • My need to be right
  • My need to feel certain
  • My desire for the spotlight
  • My need to be perfect
  • My desire to win
  • My need to feel holy

I’m sure that you can think of some more. An afterthought: I think that most of the harm we do to each other comes out of the dark shadow.

Also, we have a white shadow. When we admire something good and healthy in others, it is often a sign of something good and healthy in ourselves that we have not recognized. Just as we need to know what is in our dark shadow, it is important to recognize and value what is hidden in our white shadow.

We humans are complex. God loves us just as we are and only wants us to grow in goodness and happiness.

Smile, God Loves You.

From the letter Spiritual Growth in Awesome Love by Father John Clay (c) 2013

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