We’ve been talking about our shadow and different parts of ourselves over the last few weeks. This week, I want to do something different – even a little weird but I think it might be very helpful for some of you to grasp more fully your shadow and/or the different aspects of your interior landscape.
Let’s look at the fairy tale Cinderella, a classic fable that we are all familiar with. If we examine each of the characters of this drama as parts of our own interior selves, we can discover a lot about what’s happening or things that need to happen internally if we are to grow.
First, there is the main character, Cinderella, who is innocent, sweet, way too nice and accommodating girl. Next there is her father, a shadowy masculine character that is not present in the story but appears unaware and clueless as to what is happening at home.
Cinderella’s stepmother is greedy, cruel and jealous and her two daughters are foolish, vain, and lazy. We also have the fairy godmother; an ideal magical rescuer and the handsome prince, who eventually rescues Cinderella from her horrible family drama.
Now ask yourself some questions: Get a pen and paper and write out your answers.
What part of you is too nice? Too accommodating? What part of you does whatever anyone wants because you are so sweet?
What part of you is psychologically asleep, unaware of your meaner parts? Unaware of the danger and destruction around you?
What part of you is mean, making petty demands on yourself by threatening you or scaring you into doing whatever anyone else wants?
What part of you diminishes your worth, dismisses your talent, and relegates you to the status of a servant or slave?
What part of you just wants to laze around, be pampered, have an easy life with no hassles or responsibilities?
What part of you is jealous that other people have it easier than you do, or have more resources?
What part of you tries to wave a magic wand, hoping to make everything better, to make all the bad things go away.
What part of you wants to close your eyes and pretend you are at the ball in a beautiful dress instead of a slave to other people’s demands?
And last, which part of you is the handsome prince, strong and confident who longs to help you break free from your wicked stepmother and stepsisters and free you from the cruel demands of others?
Journal the thoughts and feelings of each of these different parts of yourself. (We’re not talking about similar characters in your external story – only your internal story right now).
How do these parts keep you stuck, safe, afraid, asleep, pretending, or empowered?
What parts have the loudest voices? What parts have the most control over your emotions and your outward actions?
Owning your various “selves”, getting to know your “less attractive parts” can help you bring them before God, as well as make the hard decisions and choices that will move you forward towards wholeness and healthiness. Once we start being aware of our own internal drama with God’s help we can make better choices in our outer lives.
The Apostle Paul struggled with is own unknown parts. He said, “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong, it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life- that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. BUT THERE IS ANOTHER POWER WITHIN ME THAT IS AT WAR WITH MY MIND. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”
“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 7:17 – Romans 8:1
Remember, the most dangerous and destructive force in our inner life is our own blindness – once we “see” ourselves more clearly, prayerfully asking ourselves probing questions, then we can begin to submit each of these different parts to God for cleansing and restoration, so we are no longer victims or slaves of these unknown parts and can move forward in God’s grace and truth.
This week’s question: My husband and I have been close friends with a couple at church for 4 years. But over time I’ve realized that my friendship with this woman is destructive. She doesn’t respect my boundaries, is critical and negative and when I try to talk with her or stand up to her, she explodes in anger or says I’m crazy and need to be in a hospital. My husband and I have had enough and want to end this relationship. Is this OK, or are we just running away?
Answer: In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul says as much as possible, be at peace with all people. It seems to me that you have tried to work out the problems in your relationship with this woman to no avail. She won’t hear you, won’t respect you, and won’t change her behavior that you find so hurtful. Therefore I don’t think you are running away, but rather you accept that this friendship is destructive towards you and therefore, you can’t allow her to be close to you any longer.
Since you’ve had such a close friendship for many years, I understand how hard it is to tell her you are done with your relationship. The next time she approaches you to “talk” about things, suggest to her that you go to a third person for mediation.
Say something like this: “We’ve tried talking about this many times, and we haven’t made any progress. I don’t want to talk about it anymore without a third party present so that both of us can get a new perspective, hopefully we can get unstuck and bring some healing to our relationship.”
Being with a third party might defuse her aggressive tendencies toward you, so that she can really hear your concerns and God might use the other person to help her see what she is doing more clearly. If she refuses mediation, then at least you have made every effort to bring about a true peace to your relationship rather than just cave into her demands. I would not talk with her alone any longer since she has been verbally abusive and explosive.
I also want you to know that God doesn’t require us to be in a close friendship with every person. It’s not even possible. Jesus ministered to many people but was only close with a few. Yes, we are to love everybody but we can’t be in close relationship with everybody.
When a relationship is difficult and/or destructive, you can make it better by yourself by guarding your own heart and tongue, but you will never make it healthy and good all by yourself. If she can’t look at herself and what she’s doing in the relationship dance, then at this time you’ll need to accept that. (Tweet this)
If you’ve done all you can to try to turn this relationship around and nothing has worked, it is time to step back from it for you both to get some healing.
Continue to pray for her and keep your heart open to the possibility of reconciliation in the future. Perhaps you may never be close again but with God’s help you can be at peace with one another.
Friends: When you’ve had a female friend become destructive, have you ended the relationship? If so, what did you say or do? If not why not?