To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. ~ Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child
When I think about practicing gratitude, almost always the first thoughts that come to my mind are about physical comforts like food and shelter, and medical care that doesn’t require me to bite on a leather strap to endure the pain. As I continue to think about practicing gratitude, though, other aspects occur to me. There are all the experiences I’ve had in my life that have contributed to me becoming wiser and more patient today than I was as a younger woman. I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned as I’ve lived through the painful experiences of my life. I’m not grateful for the painful experiences….maybe I just haven’t become that mature yet. I still would much prefer to learn these things in a different way. But, in these middle years of my life, I can say with assurance that I am grateful for what my life has taught me so far.
I’ve made some really stupid decisions in my life, then had to figure out how to survive them. I’ve lost opportunities that are unlikely to reappear and have had to figure out how to let those things go and instead treasure what I have. There are words I’ve said that I wished I could pull back. There are relationships I’ve damaged, some of which I’ve been able to heal, and some not. My “shadow” side pierces into the sunlit side of my life regularly, no matter how much I may wish it weren’t so. I’m much more comfortable acknowledging the sunlit side of my soul, the side that loves others well, that responds with grace and mercy, that is consistent in reflecting God’s image.
In spite of my reluctance to acknowledge its existence, I’m learning something about the value of my shadow side. Looking into it with all its brokenness and failures helps me gain a deeper understanding of how to live my life whole, of how God’s grace is continually supporting me and working to knit up the broken places in my soul. For that, I am grateful.
Today is Day 20 of 31 Days of Soul Tending and the focus is practicing gratitude. I’m reminding myself that acknowledging my shadow side is what gives me “depth perception” into my soul.