Our Glory & Our Depravity
engaging the good & bad of what makes us most human
By Andrew J. Bauman
I tell my son often, “There are no such things as bad guys, just people with difficult stories.” He normally responds with a puzzled look and then continues on with his imaginative play. My wife and I both blame our quirky parenting messages on the fact that we are therapists, we have just seen too much. Though, I believe this message is an important one. I do not want him to “other” folks merely as “bad”, but look beneath their behavior and see their story. I long for him to develop a posture of seeking understanding rather than judgment. Too often we take the easy approach of “villainizing” those who are different or who do things we do not like rather than engaging in the complex cognitive work of figuring out what “the sin beneath the sin” as the Puritan’s used to say.
I want my son and myself to continue to grow a more nuanced complex language to “goodness” and “badness”. Knowing that all people have both darkness and light co-existing within us at all times. I am both fiercely committed to my wife and I am capable of being unfaithful to her at any moment. I can be incredibly loving one minute and an ass the next. There is a darkness within me, and the sooner I can make peace with my depravity and shadow side the sooner I do not have to act out of it. When we make peace with our darkness we then can begin our journey towards our glory and who God has meant us to become. Glory and depravity are always two sides of the same coin. Meaning the same thing which makes us glorious also is where we most likely hold our deepest sin.
For example, my prophetic calling demands me to speak truth into systems of power. This plays well in my therapeutic work for people who are looking to be seen and challenged. My prophetic gift also makes it difficult for me not to be a cynical and critical person. I can quickly see people’s darkness and where they are in hiding, but this doesn’t bode well for small talk or a welcome guest at dinner parties. I can be standoffish and arrogant with my gifting at times. My prophetic nature can bring much life and light into people’s lives as well as heartache and destruction. Our glory and depravity are forever conjoined.
Another example of this reality is with my wife. She is kind, loving, and a welcoming presence to all, she is much more priest than prophet. She will also tell you she has a hard time with boundaries. Once in our own marriage therapy, we were discussing our problem with so many people in our home. It isn’t uncommon for 5-6 people to stop our house every day, and after the 7th person of the day, I locked myself in our room, rocking back and forth as I attempt to hide from the masses, while my wife is still showing such divine hospitality. In that therapy session, we worked out an agreement, to paint a sign for our steps that tells people we cannot be disturbed, we are having a family night so we can have a night just to ourselves. This is truly hard for my wife; she loves other people so well at times she can miss what her family most needs, her undivided presence. Her glory and her depravity are bound.
How about you?
Do you know your shadow side?
Do you know your glory side? How do they intersect?
Have you done the work to bless them both?
Are you spinning your wheels trying to fix your darkness rather than bless its occupation in your life?
By surrendering to what makes us most human we can surely taste the Divine.