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29 December 2006

it was for freedom, from myself and from the land

last night i found myself reflecting on some of the darker aspects of my personality and things i’ve done that i regret. it’s not something i take pleasure in examining, but we all have these skeletons in our closet that we carry with us, times when we have delved towards the lower limit of our humanity by choice or error. we bury them and keep them hidden from others – knowing intimately the struggle we face in loving the dark places others have accidentally or intentionally revealed. meanwhile, the great bulk of society puts on a face of confidence, all together buying into the corporate lie for our own perceived benefit and safety.

were we to all drop those masks, all-at-once in a you show me yours, i’ll show you mine scenario, would there be any love left in the world of man? or would we be so repulsed by the reflection of our own shame in one another that we would be driven into solitude? if there is to be any hope left it would be in the love of Christ, but the masks of christians are even the more delicate and intricate, covering a myriad of sins with deceit rather than love. meanwhile, in the shadows behind the mask the darkness remains, and grows.

6 Responses to “it was for freedom, from myself and from the land”

  1. baoke said:

    For what it’s worth, I only think the darkness “grows” in the more disturbed or fractured of us. It would be fair to say that it “accumulates”, in the sense that as we grow older, we acquire new instances of behavior that we’re ashamed of. But it is the act of reflection and repulsion, and ultimately acceptance of our lower moments and qualities that marks a moral person. Were we all to lower our masks, there would be repulsion, and also acceptance, likely in equal measure. However, the impulse to bare all is more often than not motivated by selfish desires – a desire to have our worst parts and deeds exonerated and forgiven, thereby robbing us of the burden of carrying them. A morally complete person doesn’t truly wish to be relieved of his or her sins – we may wish to have never committed the act or thought in the first place – but their fallout is how we judge ourselves in the present and better ourselves in the future. If you can bear to look at your soul in the mirror, and harvest the good from the darkness, it will never grow, or blacken your heart, it will serve you. Our ugly moments define us more than our bright ones, because they are what give us the drive and reason to do better; to define ourselves in opposition to them, and to gain from that opposition the strength of character to do good, now that we know how destructive wrong can be. You can’t ask for that kind of strength from someone else, you have to exude it through your own self definition. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be sharing, but there is a part of the idea that we need external absolution that is a ‘taking’ impulse. We must be more prepared to give, and be willing and able to deal with out own darkness, and then others, strengthened by the love and light we give off, will help us in turn.

  2. baoke said:

    Holy shit, that got long.

  3. baoke said:

    Let me also add that you’re a hell of a guy, Lee. Like I said before, occasional bad spots don’t take away from that – they prove it, and cast all the goodwill you’ve got and the beneficence that you’ve shown in an even better light.

  4. lantius said:

    accumulation is definitely a better term than growth.

    i think you are absolutely correct in stating that \”our ugly moments define us\” and that these things become part of our permanent identity, albeit in a negative sense.

    i think that concept actually informs my context a little better. i was not thinking of this revelation in terms of external absolution, though it is relevant. instead i was thinking of the fact that we desire to know people and to be known by them, to have others understand who we are at a deep level. so much of that is, as you have noted, integrated with this darkness that we are so reluctant to reveal. even more so, that too is tangled up with condemnation/absolution interface we have with each other.

  5. kelli lu said:

    hey, found your blog via mightymaggie…
    was just reading on the train this morning in a book, “blue like jazz,” where the author wrestles with this for about a chapter. his conclusion is like yours, that if one looks honestly at one’s heart, the inclinations are not for good but for sin. you have to train a child to be good; if you leave him to his own devices, he will not be inherently loving and self-less, he will seek his own good at the expense of others’ — all of us do.

    i think there is no healthier place to be, in terms of seeing ourselves, than right there — because viewing the depths of our own depravity stretches our capacity to see the love and perfection in the sin-covering sacrifice of Christ (and the glory of the Father Who sent Him).

  6. kelli lu said:

    great post, by the way – made me think. thanks for that.