Daily Devotions

Step Out in Courage

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I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Why do I complain about change? It isn’t like my life has been awful. It isn’t like it is getting worse every twenty-four hours. I understand the fears, in time we all get old and will ultimately die, but that doesn’t mean that everything up to this point is to be filled with dread. Living a faithful life is easier when we accept the inevitable changes all around us.

Adrian Drew, in his article “Stop Expecting Everything to Stay the Same,” points out, “…you could even go so far as to say that all of our emotional suffering comes from attachment. Losing a partner, a job, our money-these things would be easier to deal with if we accept that they were inevitable facts of life. But we don’t. Instead we cling. We hold onto things.” We are so busy clinging and grasping, that it makes our pain even worse.

God is calling us to trust even in the ups and downs of life. Drew claims the way to face change in a healthy manner is to “Expect, Don’t Resist.” Why are we surprised by change, both positive and negative? Change is a given. Where I disagree with Adrian Drew is when he recommends, “Attachment Often Leads to Misery.” Without attachment, life is nihilistic. Turning off emotion dulls the pain but leaves us cold. It takes courage to face our pain with courage. It is the only way we can continue to experience the fulness of life. The key is not to avoid, but to draw strength and courage from God.

Today, pray for the courage to face the fear of change. But remember, you are not doing it alone. The Holy Spirit is the means to not only endure, but to learn and grow through the experience of change. Yes, change includes pain, but with God, change also includes the joys of life. Trusting God provides the way to facing change with confidence. Step out in courage and your life will be full, both now and for all eternity.

The Shadow Knows

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All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Each of us has the potential to act out inappropriately at any given moment. Our Original Sin has less to do with what the mythological Adam and Eve did, and a lot more to do with the recognition that all of us fall short of the glory of God and therefore, all of us are in need of God’s grace, mercy, and reconciliation. Will Russell, in his article, “Jung-How to Integrate your Shadow,” addresses the issue of our dark side and how to respond faithfully.

According to Russell’s understanding of Jung, repressing our emotions tends to diminish the self and one’s shadow. When we repress, the pain oozes all over, infecting all with hurt and pain. It changes our “persona” in a negative way. Russell affirms, “The shadow is part of who we are, repressing it, is therefore akin to repressing an important part of who we are, this causes great stress on our conscious ego.” This often leads to many forms of destructive thoughts and actions. 

When we repress our shadow self, we fail to become who God called us to be in this world. It is vital we integrate our shadow. While we live in society and are called to interact with its dominant culture, we must nurture our shadow-self enough to know when society is acting in a way that goes against our values and faith. Otherwise the negative side of our shadow will respond in negative and even dangerous ways.

What Jung called the “shadow” is nothing to fear, but to nurture. When we recognize the potential for the negative within, we are able to address it and become stronger, more-faithful people. Today, pray for your inner shadow. Ask God to help you become even more self-aware, so you can reach beyond simple emotion and address root causes. As you are able to address these issues with prayerful guidance, you are able to be your best self.

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