Finding Meaning in the Shadows
Updated: May 22
Light vs Dark
"𝘒𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘦𝘺𝘦; 𝘩𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘰𝘸 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴." 𝘗𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘮𝘴 𝟷𝟽:𝟾
The world we live in is full of both light and darkness. Simply put, a shadow is a dark image formed through blocking the source of light. Our shadows follow us around in the daylight, but without the light to recognize their presence, they cannot be seen. Hiding in God’s shadow the ultimate safe hiding spot. It's protected darkness, as this verse states. We must learn how to rest in the shadow and protection of Gods wings. Let's explore a little deeper how the source creating the shadow we rest in is very important.
Have you met your shadow?
We all have one. If we are fortunate enough to have vision, we have all seen ours, and the shadows of many other things. Sometimes shadows seem so common place to us as adults we barely notice them, unlike as a child, when they had a special mystery to them.
When I was a child, like most children, I used to play with my shadow. I danced around & made funny motions and contortions and sometimes even added objects to the scene to see what dark shapes I could create. I can remember being in elementary school and the teacher showing us how to make silhouettes of ourselves and objects. I also remember when my cousin let me use his flashlight to make shadow puppets on the walls in the darkness of the night, and although I could never quite get them right, it never stopped me from trying to create them.
Shadows have very specific components to them. They require light in order to see them combined with an object(s) to partially block the light to form the dark images. If an object fully blocks the light, total darkness occurs. There are no shadows in the dark, unless there is a presence of light.
Remember Peter Pan? His shadow was a silly fellow. Always trying to get away and escape. Peter tried to stay with it, but it wasn’t until Wendy sewed it to Peter, that it remained attached. Unlike Peter’s magical shadow, our shadow does not detach from us, it stays connected, in part, until the light shifts and the shadow disappears temporarily.
Shadows represent many things. They are considered positive and negative depending on the context. Have you met your shadow?
The Representation of Shadows
Simply put a shadow is a dark image formed by blocking a source of light. Some shadows have crisp and defined edges created by a point of light, while others appear fuzzy created by a much larger source of light. Shadows represent many things, but no matter what they symbolize they are consistently dark. They appear to be a part of us, attached to a point, but in reality they are just a darker projection of our image.
To children shadows are playful and fun. To more mature minds, however, they can be viewed as the darker side of our personality.
According to Jungian Psychology, our shadow represents the unconscious part of us that we often try to hide or deny. It’s thought to be based off of primal emotions, which are typically counter intuitive to our conscious thoughts. Things like jealousy, anger, greed, and fear of the unknown are thought to be the less than rational thoughts of our shadow self. Jung also believed our shadows were hard to see in ourselves, often causing us to project emotions onto others.
In Freudian Psychology, the unconscious mind represents all parts of ourselves, both good and bad and are hidden from us consciously for self preservation. Freud believed in the importance of becoming aware of our hidden aka dark psyche. That is was essential to deal with in order to overcome our urges and better understand our motivations and how to control them.
Whether the our shadow is viewed as negative or positive, it is something that we need to face in ourselves. Shadows are dark figures that are projected from blocking sources of light. Bringing our shadow into the light is essential for self awareness and growth. It can be very unhealthy to remain in dark shadows. So have you met your shadow?
“He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.” Job 12:22
The Book of Job refers to shadows quite a bit. Job was considered blameless and upright, a man who shunned evil, in the eyes of the Lord. The devil was still given reign to test Job by stripping him from his properties, his family and finally his health, but withheld from taking Job’s life.
Although Job had honored the Lord and loved Him with all his heart, he was still tested for his loyalty. Through all of his sufferings, Job still praised God and understood that what the Lord gives, can also be taken away. That God created and owned everything.
Job's friends were compassionate in the beginning. They sat with him in the silence of his loss. Eventually his friends and his wife, hurled insults at him and thought him foolish for still honoring God. Job got to a point of deep depression. He cursed his very birth and longed for the shadow of death to escape the pain of his loss. Even still, he never lost complete sight of the fact that God made all things, and knows all things, and sees all things. Even things that are hidden in the shadows are seen by God.
He goes on to tell us that life is like a “fleeting shadow” and only last but for a short period of time. Shadows loom over us in grief and distress, they hang beneath our eyes and cover our form when we are low. The more depressed we get, the more we cling to the shadows and try to remain in the darkness. And yet... evil cannot hide in the darkness from God. He loves His creation. He allows us to be tested just as a father corrects the actions and weighs the loyalty and merit of his children.
If we keep our hearts loyal and in praise to the Lord, our great father, despite the momentary shadows that cover us, will restore what we lose. He will fill in the missing and broken pieces, just as the Lord restored Job to an even greater position of Glory than before he was tested.
I often wonder how many times Satan has had that conversation with God about testing man. Sometimes in life, the shadows of our testing looms over us like a dark cloud. Until we pass the test, it seems to continue indefinitely. Keeping God at the center of our hearts and our mind, is the true test, no matter the challenge. Next time you are in the thick of a shadow look up instead of around. The brightest light comes from above and cancels out darkness.
How often do you cling to the shadows? How do you get back to the light?
Adjusting How We View Shadows
They can be deep and dark, but in the darkness light is always more brilliant. Our shadows are mere projections of darkness that are created in our image, but are only possible because of the presence of light.
Jesus taught us to have childlike wonder and children tend to be comfortable with their shadow self. They aren’t afraid to meet them, and their curiosity drives them to explore further. On the other hand, unknown shadows tend to be more frightening.
Fear of the unknown is one of the toughest fears to face. It can keep us trapped, if we allow it. Peter Pan’s shadow showed us how the darkness likes to be free and loose. It likes to play tricks and tries to remain in the darkness.
Shadows can represent sadness, despair and all the forms of darkness that we try to protect ourselves from. They can also call us deeper into the darkness and rid us of hope. Reminding us of how fleeting our life really is, the shadow of death eventually comes for us all.
Shadows can also teach us. From inside the darkness we can seek the true source of light. When we are at our darkest points, light fills us with hope. It compels us to expose what is hidden in darkness to the light. It shows us how to control the darkness instead of letting it continue to manipulate us. It allows us the opportunity to change our mind and seek the opposite.
Light cancels darkness, just like God’s Son cancelled death. When we seek to be in the shadow of God, instead of the shadow of darkness, He protects us. He keeps us safe in the unknown and the known. All shadows besides God’s continue to change shape, but His is constant. He welcomes us into His shadow because He loves us and wants us to turn to Him for our safety.
I would love to hear how you view shadows and how you can change your perspective on them. Comment or connect below...
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