1 Corinthians 13:1–13, Letting Go Of Projection

Verses 11–12:

“When I was a child, my speech, my outlook, and my thoughts were all childish. When I grew up, I had finished with childish things. Now we see only puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face. My knowledge now is partial; then it will be whole, like God’s knowledge of me.” (New English Bible)

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly; but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (New Revised Standard Version)

Children live in a magical world of superheroes, fairy godmothers, bad witches, monsters, and so forth. An infant or young child does not have the capacity to name their emotions and make sense of their body sensations without the help of adults. Thus, children express emotions symbolically in fantasies, games, play activity, body symptoms, etc.

What is at work is the psychological dynamic of projection, where an unknown affect/feeling from inside is projected outward onto something or someone. For example, as an adult, we may have unconscious anger at another, so we perceive the other person as angry instead of acknowledging our feeling. This dynamic is at play throughout our life span. In this way, we encounter aspects of ourselves in the outside world.

Psychologically, one of the markers of an adult is the ability to discern the nuances of the sensations and emotions we experience. Adults are able to make sense of sensations and emotions through thoughts and feelings that connect the realities of their inner experience to the outer world.

Adults recognize their fantasies (images, fleeting thoughts, unbidden emotions) and projections (what they attribute to another) as information about themselves. They look to see what is true and to discern what is self/Self and what is other/another. Adults recognize the truth of Carl Jung’s statement, “that the world has no face other than that which we give it.” The Kabbalists echo this sentiment in saying, “whatever face we give God is that which he shows us.”

Psychologically, the Kingdom of Heaven symbolizes the state of consciousness where we know experientially, in our body and mind, that we are one with the Self/God Within. We live in a perfect balance of the beauty of our soul. It is a place of conscious unity between ego and Self. This state of consciousness is innate within us, but we often lose connection with the felt experience and expression of this knowing.

Outside responses to us that trigger feelings of mistrust, shame, and guilt interfere with our receptivity to our Inner Divine Spirit. Like children, we are at the mercy of our emotions and sensations when we do not apply to ourselves the consciousness we have developed. Consciousness expresses in the abilities to see, to focus, to assess, to choose, to act.

Sometimes, we are blocked in applying our consciousness to ourselves because “we see only dimly.” When we see “the puzzling reflections,” we need to seek guidance from the Self and ask to be shown that which is unclear or distorted. This asking is a key to our life-giving movement as adults. (Working with a skilled counselor, psychoanalyst, or healer can help in seeing what is unseen.)

Inner Reflection
Consider how you move in the world and how you manage outer-world demands to see the skills, abilities, and resources you have within you. Where are you stuck in unknowing or confusion about your inner experience? Consciously apply the resources you have within that you might see more clearly and fully to make sense of your inner and outer worlds. Ask the Inner Divine Spirit to help you feel and know the presence and beauty of your soul.