Sunday, October 18, 2009

Life in Paradox (Part 2)

Shadow: A definite area of shade cast upon a surface by a body intercepting the light rays; the dark image made by such a body

Mission: A sending out or being sent out with authority to perform a special duty

Shadow Mission: Satan's plan for a person's life

I've previously blogged about The Destiny Project's impact on my life. It has been a huge catalyst for me and 2009 has been a key year. But I don't believe I've discussed my shadow mission, which I identified as part of my journey through The Destiny Project. I call it "my" shadow mission because it is the enemy's plan for my life and, well, I owned it.

I'm making some basic assumptions here about you, my readers. I assume that you choose to believe in God. That you choose to believe He loves you. That you recognize that we have an enemy older than time, Satan, whose great delight is in destroying everything God created, especially humankind. That you choose to believe that Jesus went to the Cross, died and was resurrected, thereby taking care of the world's sin problem for us. We can hang onto our sin problem and try to deal with it ourselves, try to be righteous on our own by doing good things and trying to be good people, or we can let Him clothe us with His righteousness. Basic Christian gospel stuff.

By the way, Jesus doesn't leave us any middle ground here. He's either exactly who He says He is - Emmanuel, God Almighty with us, LORD and Savior - or He's nucking futs. If He's nucking futs then nothing He says has any worth. If He's exactly who He says He is then, well, what He says about us and life and the world is absolutely true whether we believe it or not. He leaves it to us to decide whether we believe Him or not.

I became a Christian in July of 1988, though at the time I had no idea what it meant. It's probably just as well that I was clueless because, had I known all the heartache and anguish I'd walk through ahead of time, I might have said "No, thank you. I've suffered plenty already so I'm not about to set myself up like that by deliberately choosing the path of thorns. There's nothing you can say to me that will convince me it's worth it."

See, I wasn't raised to believe that God is a Person. I was introduced to the idea when I was in college. Only after praying the prayer and saying "yes" to Jesus did I discover such concepts as sin and redemption. Even then, I had a hard time understanding God's love. I still do. I still don't get it. Not really.

I mean, c'mon...why would I? Love, to me, has been distant and chilly and painful and a tool for manipulation. "I love you," have been nice words with little staying power. While there might be some nice emotion attached, they don't deeply impact my life or help me much. When I have loved, I've reaped more heartache than anything else so why would I want to go there? Why would I think it's worth it? Why would I think it's reciprocal, when it feels like my love is very rarely returned? What good does love do? People say, "I love you," then walk away and I'm left to deal with stuff on my own. If I need help, I have to beg for it. Unless, of course, I'm seeing a counselor or someone like that and they claim affection for me. But then, I'm paying them. They get money in exchange for dealing with me and my crap. That knowledge always leaves a little doubt about the genuineness of their affection. It feels like having a Rent-A-Friend.

That's a pathetic paradigm but it's been mine for a long time.

It makes a certain amount of sense that God would be proprietary about us, humankind. It's an ownership thing. He made us therefore nobody else gets to decide what happens in our lives, nobody else has the right to make those decisions or mess with us. He's the Potter and we're the clay. Who are we to think we can protest what He decides? Right? He made us and He owns us, even if we don't like it. What we like is irrelevant. What we think is irrelevant. What we feel is irrelevant. He's God and we're not. Love doesn't really enter into it much. At least, that's the thinking here. But it's subconscious thinking. It's an undercurrent that impacts conscious thinking in a decidedly negative way.

It's also a way of thinking that plays nicely into my shadow mission.

Three things come out of The Destiny Project - an identity statement (who I am in the world), a mission statement (what I'm all about in the world) and a shadow mission (Satan's plan for my life).

My mission statement is fairly succinct. "To warm others and create a safe space where they are free to be who they were born to be." Nice, huh?

My identity statement is verbose, as far as identity statements go. At least, that's what I've heard. "I am Arwen, daughter of the Lord, full of grace and splendor; I am Galadriel, who sees what was, what is and what may be, who will not leave those who are weak without defense; I am Boudicca, who goes to war for her people, fiercely battling and taking no prisoners; I am the radiant, illuminating fire that enflames and enlivens to freedom."

My shadow mission is longer than either my mission statement or my identity statement. "To survive by being coldly detached, strong and unbendable, filled with self-loathing, seeing all the desires to relate and connect and be warm and loving and enthusiastic as weaknesses to be utterly eliminated. To be solitary, seeking power because love is a lie. To operate solely out of a calculating and cunning intellect, with no heart. To be a machine, manipulating others to do my will. To be in utter and absolute control of myself, completely obliterating any vulnerability. To kill any desire to be loved, because the desire to be loved is my enemy just as the desire to love is my enemy. To be god in my own life, so that I am my everything, I am all that matters, because there is nobody else to whom I will matter, ever. To believe, with everything in me, that I am and always will be on my own, and to build my life based on that completely, eternally unalterable reality."

The thing about my shadow mission is that it was far more than just an annoying shadow that bothered me like so much background noise. My shadow mission had been both my identity statement and my mission statement. I'd pursued being that person. I'd embraced it. It's who I thought I was supposed to be. It's who I wanted to be. That girl wouldn't get hurt. She wouldn't get played. She wasn't a doormat and she wasn't a victim. She wouldn't let anyone get close enough for her to get molested, or emotionally raped.

So what if she was lonely? So what if she was starved for affection and genuine human warmth? It was better than the alternative.

I believed all of the above even after saying "yes" to Jesus. I just didn't know it. Not really. I might have had a passing thought about it, but it wasn't something I'd truly recognized for what it is - a trap and a lie from hell.

Here's the clincher - God loves me too much to leave me there. Jesus simply won't leave me alone, even though the idea of loving and being loved scares me no end. I had said "yes" to Him, and that's something He takes very, very seriously.

To be continued...

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