The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung once said, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” The question then is: how does one come into consciousness? People come into consciousness when they bump up against a force that is ‘other’ than themselves. This often happens in one of two ways: The first is when we become consciously aware of what Jung calls ‘The Shadow Self’. The shadow self is seeing the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to see. We see our paranoia, our ego, our fears, our need to control, and we begin to understand the roots of our depression and anxiety. The other way is by bumping against others who are different than we are. Jung also mentioned that before we learn who we are, we learn who we are not. This is why discerning these ‘other-ly” forces takes a while, and we often become defensive of what people have to say about us. We still need to defend our ground.
One might find it a little weird that they are receiving a crash course on Jungian developmental psychology, but it relates to our generation. My generation has a worldview that says, “No one can tell me what to think or what to do.” As long as this worldview is in place, there will be no coming of consciousness and we will maintain the small worldview that tends to alienate and damage others. If we live by our own desires, without recognizing the damages that they can cause, great violence and suffering happens because of it. If we don’t come into conscious understanding that there is more than one perspective, and that there is at least a fraction of truth in most perspectives. (For instance, the God that Richard Dawkins rejects is a God that I believe is worth rejecting. But, I’m still not an atheist.)
The millennial generation has had reasons to reject the Church that has been presented to them. The projection of the Church is often dogmatic and totalitarian. This is why the worldview of “No one can tell me what to think or what to do” exists. It’s a response to abusive power. But, if we do not allow other-ly forces into our existence, we will not grow. What I believe we need is not totalitarian power, or this individualistic rebellion, but a return to what the New Testament has been teaching all along, covenant relationships.
Covenant relationships exist for those who submit themselves to community. When we have a group of friends, family members, mentors, pastors, etc… in our lives, and we allow them to speak into us, it creates a safe environment for us to grow. We know that they are there for us, our development, and our progress– not because of what they get out of it, but because their delight comes in our growth. When we allow more of the ‘other’ around us, we eliminate suffering in and around us because there is nothing to protect anymore. We are allowed to be more inclusive and love more people. At the same time, this allows us to establish a deeper personal connection to those around us. If there are, in fact, less people who are ‘other’ than us, then they become an extension of ourselves. We may not agree with everything they say, believe, or do, but we don’t have that oppositional energy towards them. We can actually do what Jesus called us to do, ‘love our enemies.’
It might look like this: