Life is about struggles. Sometimes, these struggles are outwards. Struggles between peoples, as people, groups, or even entire nations can fight for what they believe and even rationalize that they deserve. Social life is a struggle for the recognition of various status or persons that will the either legitimate or delegitimate their interests
Sometimes, these struggles are inwards. As Freud observed, the neuroses of people are often times the conflict of different drives; while Freud didn’t accurately identify the nature of these drives, the struggle between them, along with the nature of the unconscious, were his seminal contributions to our psychological understanding. Life doesn’t provide
Nevertheless, whether we are talking about outward or inward conflicts, there remains the fundamental problem of struggle in human life. The story of Adam and Eve recollects this reality due to sin. Because of sin, God tells Eve she will have a desire to control her husband but he will control her. Because of sin, God tells Adam that his toil will not produce a harvest but rather thorns. Because of sin, the world is inhabited by those like Cain who murder their brother Abel. Fundamental to the problem of sin is the struggles and conflicts it places within human existence, but interpersonal conflicts and intrapersonal conflicts.
Now, throughout the Bible, the interpersonal conflicts are primarily highlighted. Occasionally, we get glimpses of the inner struggles such as in the lament Psalms where the psalmist is torn between the complaints about the
Nevertheless, the New Testament does not speak of a world of a hyper self-consciousness that we have experienced in the modern,
Now, in making this observation, I am not condemning this practice. Indeed, sometimes we need to pick one side of the inner conflict over the other and learn to live with what comes from that way of life. Healing from within is in many instances a perfectly legitimate option much of the time. However, inner healing from within is not the nature of transformation in the Gospel. For the Apostle Paul, the work that is happening in Jesus Christ and through the Spirit is something that we do not see, have not heard of, nor can even imagine on our own capacity; instead, it is something that Paul can only call a new creation. While this transformative work includes our inner nature and being, the transformative work does not come from within but from without.
This sort of works comes from without, coming from outside of ourselves. It doesn’t come by selecting one side of our conflict or the other, forming us into the image of the side of the inner tension we select. Rather, the whole of ourselves are formed, all sides of the inner tensions we face become brought comprehensively in line with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ through the transformation of the Spirit. Apart from worship, prayer, study, attentive reflection upon, and faithfulness of the heart to God which directs us and attunes us to the one who does what does not come from within, there is no place we go within ourselves to find this healing or make it our own. We do not seek this type of healing for its own sake as that misdirects our attention away from God; we don’t find some power within us that we then put into action as this redirects our formation into the images that direct our own actions. Rather, we behold and come to comprehend God through the sending of His Son into the world and His Spirit into our hearts.
While there are times to pursue inner healing from within, sometimes the act of navel-gazing can only heighten the conflicts and leave us deeper in the problem, especially when the reality of life in is joys and heartbreaks, its peace and conflicts, its loves and hates resist finding any sort of peace and contentment from within. Picking one side only leads to the other side to fight harder, especially so far as our inner conflicts are connected to our outer conflicts where people refuse to align their interests to ours but can be threatened by our own efforts and resist. Navel-gazing in these contexts can only solidify us, harden us into our patterns, making us less flexible, less open, less receptive to the whole of life or others, causing the conflicts and tensions