When Jesus was alone in the wilderness, the temptations presented to him by the devil were real, precisely because they touched a real desire within Jesus for power, for recognition, for taking the east way. He had to confront the darkness within.
Perhaps the strongest resistance we have to examining deeply our own hearts is the fear that what we will find there will somehow render us as unacceptable, unlovable. This fear is where our great defensiveness arises from: criticism of how we’ve been living our lives seems to call into question our very worth.
It isn’t so. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We are loved unconditionally by the God who gave us life as a gift and cherishes us. Because of this, we can feel a deep security that makes it possible to look openly and honestly at ourselves, knowing that darkness we will encounter within ourselves won’t cast us out of God’s love. In fact, the willingness to examine ourselves honestly is a gift we give to God. Therese of Lisieux said,
“If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.”
Can we imagine what it would be like to “serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself”?