Personal Birth Pangs

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. Romans 8:22 MSG

The birth pangs of creation are  hard to miss, aren’t they?  Some days this week we’ll take time to reflect on local and global pains of that sort. But this morning consider how these pains are within you and me. 

In Falling Upward, Author and Spiritual Director, Richard Rohr writes, “Your shadow is what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see. The more you have cultivated and protected a chosen persona, the more shadow work you will need to do. Be especially careful therefore of any idealized role or self-image, like that of minister, mother, doctor, nice person, professor, moral believer, or president of this or that. These are huge personas to live up to, and they trap many people in lifelong delusion.”  

However, when we gently confess and expose this shadow self, our anxieties dissipate, we are freed, we can live like the “holy fool.” But Rohr continues, “There will always be some degree of sadness, humiliation, and disappointment resulting from shadow work… It is the false self that is sad and humbled, because its game is over. Holy sadness, once called compunction, is the price your soul pays for opening to the new and the unknown in yourself and in the world.”

As Paul writes about the birth pangs within us all, consider what pain you feel unconsciously giving in to your shadow self when all the while your resurrected self wants to be born. Consider the pain you feel as you move from hiding your true self to “hiding yourself in God” (Colossians 3:3). And last, consider the holy sadness felt day by day having left the old behind but missing the confidence, security and power of the old deluded shadow self. 

Take some paper and a pen and write a letter to God this morning. What have you been trying to force into birth? What pains are you experience as new birth takes place in your life? How is the Spirit of God arousing you within?