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Last night in a book study meeting we heard a story I want to share with you this morning. In this story, a man is searching frantically for a lost set of car keys. A friendly cop comes by and offers to help look for the keys. Finally, after looking and looking, the cop asks him if he was certain this was where he had lost his keys.  The man answered the cop with a resounding “no”—-explaining that he had dropped them several yards over from where they’d been looking. Seeing the cop’s exasperated and quizzical expression, the man further explained he was afraid to look where he’d actually dropped his keys  because he had a fear of dark places and  it was too dark for him to look for them there (Bill P., Todd W., & Sara, S., 2005, Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects Step Six and Seven, p. 16).

This story, much like Christ’s parables, is rich with meaning that we can apply to our lives. Looking back over the years, I realize I spent way too much time “looking” for insight into myself in “all the wrong places”—–the places I was already cognizant of and with which I had a certain degree of comfort. I avoided the areas that were “hidden in darkness”—-probably because I was afraid of what I might find. It is hard to truly face oneself, and working a twelve step program of recovery is dependent on the willingness to do just that.

From a psychiatric perspective, I also believe some of the “hidden in darkness” tidbits of “self-knowledge” were hidden from my conscious awareness to protect my ego from anxiety. Either way—whether done intentionally or unconsciously— those parts of myself that were at the roots of my “problems” were safely tucked away in my interior “darkness” so that I would not have to face them and work through them. Years of intermittent therapy sessions as well as week after week and year after year of “working the program” in recovery still left those “hidden in darkness” aspects safely insulated and hidden in the darkest, most “safely-guarded” core of my inner-self. Oh, sure, I was vaguely aware of them and would give them brief, superficial “lip service” when recounting them is therapy sessions or in the process of “working the steps” of recovery, but I avoided facing them  on a genuine, “gut-wrenching,” in touch with feelings level.

These past two years have given me life experiences and a new way of “peeling the layers of the onion back”  (centering prayer) that have allowed me to face some of what was once hidden from me.  I always trusted that God would reveal to me what I needed to know when I was strong enough to handle it. God was patient, and he waited until He had helped me grow spiritually to the point that I have indeed been able to face some of my inner “demons.” Consequently I have been relieved of the associated issues and “bondage of self” that accompanied them. For example, during a centering prayer session, God brought me face to face with my deceased maternal grandfather so that I could tell him I forgave him for what he did to me when I was four years old,  that I loved him, and that I would, however,  not forget what he’d done. This “vision,” “meditative trance,” or whatever you want to call it, gave my soul peace of mind that it had not felt before. I am eternally grateful that I experienced this as for me it was a life-changing miracle.

I now know God helps me find what I need to find when I am ready to find it—whether it be hidden in darkness or “in plain sight.” I now have less fear, and I can now look at some of those “dark spots” with courage grounded in knowing God is holding my hand as I confront whatever is hidden there.

The book we were studying last night also said awareness is essential if we want to be willing to have God remove “defective components” inherent in how we relate to others and live our lives. I am making progress in being willing to be aware, in light or darkness, of what I need to change or surrender to God because I know God is with me as I journey forward.

What are your thoughts about having the courage to confront what has been safely hidden from self-awareness? How is doing so related to your spirituality? Please comment.

May God bless and keep you.