God walks behind us

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It is said that God walks behind us, picking up those parts of our life that we choose to discard. The imperfection, failure, shame we try to leave behind in our desire to live “good” lives, is God’s treasure, the true gold of our life story.

It is the precisely that part of us, and not our ideas of “goodness” which is open to divine growth.

Carl Jung put it another way. Befriend your shadow. Embrace your darkness and watch it turn into the light.

Whatever images we use to describe the process, we come back to Jesus who preached the message until it made him so unpopular, that the “good” people killed him.

Those obsessed with their own virtue, he called “whitened sepulchres, tombs painted on the outside but corrupt within.” These seem harsh words until we realise that his judgement was not about imperfection but the refusal to acknowledge it.

Of the woman who wept while anointing his feet, he said, “She loves much because she has been forgiven much.” This woman had not tried to disown her story. She had embraced her shadow and it had turned into the light of divine love.

When I read Jesus’ teachings I find it helpful to look beyond specific personalities to the principle involved. After all, the shadow and the light, the Pharisee and the loving giver, are in each of us.

It seems to me that Jesus spent more time talking about this, than anything else – the need for me to claim my whole story and bring the entire person to the God who made me.

When that understanding moves from my head to my heart, there is profound relief coupled with a deep sense of God as the Abundant Giver.

God does not judge me. God is Love and Love does not judge. It is I who judge myself when I encounter that Divine love.

If I don’t claim the wholeness of my story, I will then project that judgement on other people. I may even project it on God.

When I claim my story, I usually find that what I tried to throw away as unworthy, actually contains the voice of God. This is apparent in the recurring patterns in life.

The lesson that is ignored or put aside, will come back again and again, each time stronger until I pay attention to it.

Whatever that particular lesson is, it will be about growth and it will involve moving away from the shadows of fear and into the light of love.

I believe that God does walk behind us, gathering bits of discarded story and giving them back to us. When we accept them as gift, we discover the truth of forgiveness.

The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears, did not give Jesus her love because God had forgiven her. She gave him God’s love because God had shown her how to forgive herself.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.

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