Daring to allow our true selves to emerge
The roots of our conflict lie inside us even though we usually think of them as something external. Actually, if we don’t have this internal conflict it is very difficult for external conflict to draw us in. Naturally conflict happens inside us as we push against things we don’t normally do or say, allowing our God-given urge to life to move us outward. We do risk a lot then, but it makes us feel alive. As adults, it’s so easy to smother this dynamic, withdraw or close down as the threat and fear around destructive conflict situations paralyzes us.
Since we’re all multi-layered beings, our true inner core has to pass through these layers in order to be seen. Our outer most fringe is our ego, our trading or measured self. Next is our story self, our memories of our joys and pains. Deeper in is our survival self that fights for our very right to exist. When we desire to move outward from our core and try to be authentic, the message gets distorted and blurred by these layers. It’s because of these that we feel vulnerable and scared to love, as the self we really are fights with the self we’ve pretended to be. The conflict we witness as a result of this isn’t the real issue, but like the ‘smoke’ that shows us what’s ‘burning’.
As we realize what we’ve been given through our upbringing, what pain has shaped us in the past, we need to ask ourselves, from all we’ve learned, what we are choosing to stand for now and what we want to start putting into practice in our future. If, for example, we’ve always been a ‘pushover’ and have felt the humiliation of this each time, we can start proactively to say, ‘No’, and risk allowing our voice to be heard as our real self starts to stand up for itself.
Are we living for something or do we simply exist from day to day? Has our individual passion been blocked or drowned long ago? God, who knows us intimately, calls us to express ourselves and to show the gutsy life that’s in each of us, but often we choose not to because we don’t want the conflict. This ‘smoke’ that’s often part of this process threatens us and feels too scary.
We are called by God to be agents of transformation for ourselves and others and sometimes we don’t believe in our own power. Like Martha, we’ve been distracted by our duties and can easily miss that one, but significant, thing that Jesus said she needed to choose instead. As we face the reality of the questions that come up inside us in midlife, we realize that we’re actually fed up with being dragged around by everyone else’s agenda. Our old, worn out, fear-filled dreams of the first half of our life need to give way to new, big and powerful dreams.
What are we ready and wanting to spend ourselves on? What will we sell all for in order to buy that pearl of great price? To answer this, this may mean risking disappointing those who’ve defined us, those who know us so well. The encouraging fact is that as our own individual light starts to shine and we stand for who we really are, we’ll give others permission to do the same. We will all need people along the way to help us not to allow fear to flatten our growing passion, to hold onto our inner imperative that, ‘This is important for me.’ So actually if we allow it, creative conflict can be our gift, for it will break open our protective husk that if left could become a trap. It will release us to life and to new possibilities that we could never have envisaged before.