Today, we look at internal conflict…the antagonist within. What in us tries to thwart what we desire in this season?
John Bucher’s teaching on the antagonist in screenplays offers us a fascinating starting place:
“In really powerful stories the good guy and the bad guy have the same goal but pursue different ways of getting at it.”
Bucher gives the example of the movie The Dark Night. In it the Joker and Batman both want the same thing: to control Gotham. But Batman wants peace and the Joker wants destruction.
This same kind of vying between the protagonist and antagonist in the movies often happens in our inner worlds. The conflict comes when we pursue something with competing motivations.
Our unease reveals our incongruence.
And wow! Do I know this well. Perhaps the most striking example in my story comes from when I was pastor on staff at a church. I was the only woman on the teaching team. My desire when I spoke was for people to be deeply encouraged and ultimately transformed by God’s love. But…there was another force at play. I also wanted to be really good…ok, perfect. Since at that time it was a rare gig to teach/preach as a woman I wanted every word to count.
Unfortunately that created an unease in me that stole my capacity to be present. It sabotaged my ability to be vulnerable in the moment. As I spoke I was often stuck in my head versus speaking from my heart.
I confronted my unease with harsh criticism and “try harder” self-talk, rather than curiosity and grace.
I started to embrace a script written by shame: I just wasn’t a good speaker. I was the weakest link. I let my gender down…You know, all those things your ego gets wrong as a wounded beast.
But if I would have let my unease tell me a secret…if I would have had a better conversation with my internal conflict it may have been a different story then.
Yet, there’s now. The gift of now…that calls me to pay attention to my current unease…to get curious and quiet and listen for its secret.
To do as John O’Donohue writes:
“May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.”
May you and I be brave as we listen to and enter into our own unease today.
I can’t resist leaving you with John O’Donohue’s For Longing. It’s a favorite.
For Longing ~ John O’Donohue
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
~John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us. All rights reserved.