Nothing scares us more than facing off with our inner demons, and yet nothing scares THEM more than when we call them out, BY NAME!
Think Jesus and the healing of the demon-possessed man. Having been filled with a whole herd of demons, this poor man was literally out of his mind (or, he could hardly contain the many minds that had found their way INTO his); running around stark naked and living in a cemetery; scaring the townspeople who no doubt avoided him at all costs. What Jesus DID is not altogether unlike what we must DO when confronted with ‘demons’…
“Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’
‘Mob. My name is Mob,’ he said, because many demons afflicted him.” (Luke 8:30 The Message)
Jesus faced the demons.
Jesus NAMED the demons.
And Jesus sent the demons diving over a cliff, into the sea, rescuing the man and giving his life BACK TO HIM!
No matter what your own ‘demons’ are, NAMING them is half the battle! Or at least one-third of the battle.
Welcome BACK to PINK Tuesday and Part Two of my MID-LIFE CRISIS. Today we face the music – the realization that those things we keep hidden hold a power over us with the potential to derail even the most authentic follower of Christ. Today we’ll continue to identify some of the struggles faced in mid-life, in hopes of removing the power that these demons tend to have when we fail to FACE them, NAME them and SEND them on their way!
Crisis Milepost 3: SHIFT
At some point in mid-life, shift happens. It’s almost as if we don’t see it coming, even though most of us have heard all of the stories before. No longer ‘working for the weekend,’ we find ourselves working for retirement or to pay for college or to free up time to care for aging parents. The idea that I have my whole life ahead of me shifts, and I find myself looking at a whole lot of life that’s behind me now.
This shift in perspective produces at least one of two byproducts for living beyond mid-life: it either lights a fire under my passions and sends me off and running in meaning-filled and fulfilling ways, or it locks me into the next mid-life misery, which is…
Crisis Milepost 4: DEFAULT
Failing to face the reality of our lives (not only in mid-life, by the way) leads us to avoid the present by DEFAULTING to either the PAST or the FUTURE. Some of us avoid dealing with today by opting to remember a better yesterday, or to steep ourselves in former pains and losses until we’re nothing more than a really soupy mess. Some of us fail to face down our demons because we’d rather obsess over tomorrow’s plans, what-ifs and worst-case-scenarios until we’re scared spitless (and by that I mean we just can’t move).
I’m a future-dweller by default, often choosing to stress and worry over what hasn’t happened yet. When we succumb to either default setting, we’re choosing to live anywhere BUT the present; and yet being present in this moment is the only chance we stand of squaring off with what torments us, calling it what it IS, and sending it packing!
Crisis Milepost 5: CONTROL
I like to think that as I’ve aged, I’ve gained wisdom about life and the ways that God works in this world. At the same time, however ironic, that wisdom gives me eyes to see just how many things in my life are increasingly out of control. Out of MY control, anyways.
- My children are growing up (or at least, growing older) and the more they make their own decisions, the less control I have over the outcomes.
- The control that I have over my own physical state is waning, too – grey hair where blonde should be; changing metabolism that plays havoc with the size of the clothing in my closet; and I find myself reaching for reading glasses even before switching the computer on…
- Relationships even take on a life of their own after so many years, assuming a holding pattern powered by auto-pilot. And even if those relationships are still mostly good, they’re simply not being driven by us anymore.
When the light bulb comes on and our wisdom reveals all of these plates spinning out of our control, we do what any self-respecting control freak would do – something to take it BACK! Maybe even something CRAZY, but at the very least we react in order to convince ourselves that we really ARE IN CONTROL… of something.
Looking back over these crises, I guess I’ve laid bare my soul! Panic. Stuck. Shift. Default. Control. My own mid-life issues are no walk in the park, that’s for sure!
Do you see yourself in here? Mid-life or not, do you recognize the symptoms of allowing our demons to go un-checked, un-named and, consequently, undefeated? And yet, strangely, we hesitate instead of following Jesus’ example; often with a little help from our friends.
In the story of the demon possessed man, something strange happens after the demons have been run off. Jesus and his followers help the man to get cleaned up and clothed. He is sitting calmly, speaking clearly, becoming himself once again, and you would think that the townspeople would have thrown him a party! Celebrated his newfound wholeness! Rejoiced in his reclaimed normalcy!
Instead, they freaked out. Too much change – too fast. And it scared them. Sometimes the people around us, well-meaning as they intend to be, end up enabling us to hang onto our demons. Not because the demons are good for us, but because they are familiar.
If there’s something in this PINK Tuesday post that is familiar to you, will you share it with someone today?
Because here’s the thing: acknowledging your struggles is equivalent to Jesus facing the mob of demons in the possessed man. You may not be able to do this on your own, but Jesus is just as available NOW, for you, as He was THEN, for him. Telling someone about your struggles, whether it be a trusted friend, a family member or a counselor, is what it takes to NAME your demon and take the power of mystery and secrecy away from it.
Only then will you be ready to make your move and overcome the things that have come over you.
When you make your move (and I’m praying that you will), I hope you’ll let us know about it!