There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. -C. S. Lewis
Sitting in my therapist’s office yesterday I questioned myself, “Why even do this work when life appears ‘good’ to most people’s standards?” She reminded me the work of self-actualization is a gift to give yourself and the world and that some of the drama others create in their lives is an unconscious distraction from doing this work. If we’re too caught up in day-to-day survival, we can remain blinded by greater realities. If we can numb ourselves to forget our internal pain which is asking us to grow and evolve then we don’t have to do ‘this work’.
The problem with that is then we live in a perpetual state of discontent and pattern-repeating and life remains dull and unfulfilling. I want more.
So here I was. Asking tough questions. Facing some long-held fears. Trying to learn to speak a new language (psychologically speaking I mean) and break patterns that may have served me at one time, but no longer do. This process can honestly make you feel like you are crazy.
In Mark 3 Jesus is thronged with people who needed His help. They were pressed and pursued and didn’t have even a second to eat. He was hungry and tired and then He was accused. By who? His family!
When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. (v.21)
Imagine it. He’s following the voice of The Father and healing people and performing miracles and even his own mother didn’t understand. Did she forget her immaculate conception, and when he was found in the temple at age 12 and how He wasn’t quite the typical kid?
Jesus wasn’t following all the rules of the Sabbath either. This pissed off the religious leaders who chimed in with their accusations to try to discredit Him in front of those who were following.
But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” (v.22)
Here’s what surprises me the most. Jesus, tired, worn-out, hungry, doesn’t give in. He could have said, “You’re right. I am out of my mind. Look at me. I’m just a carpenter.”
I mean Jesus was fully human and how He remained confident in the face of criticism from his own mother and brothers and how He stood strong against the threat of those in authority is astonishing to me. Or maybe I’m just weak and would have jumped to questioning myself rather than ignoring them?
Looking over the various chapters of my life thus far I can see a distinct pattern. When I am actively pursuing God, the forces that rise up to stop me are ever present and seem to grow stronger. This reality is what has caused me to back off or side-step or fall off the wagon altogether.
I simply couldn’t see the ‘devil’ as a distraction. I either ignored it and pretended its presence didn’t exist or at certain times (and in certain church settings) I was trying to “rebuke the devil so he would flee”.
As C.S. Lewis says, both are equal and opposite errors. Giving too much time and attention or blaming your problems on the “Prince of Darkness” is faulty thinking as is thinking opposition is entirely your fault.
When I had my eyes set on missionary work in my early 20s, is when I landed myself in an abusive relationship. When I was trying to be a good mom and sacrifice myself for my family is when I got distracted by an affair. When I tackled my 40-day blogging challenge I dug up so much hurt I ended up back in a therapy office.
I am learning that life comes wrapped with a lot of mysteries and so much of it doesn’t make sense.
I want so desperately to understand myself, to stop repeating patterns that don’t work, to remove blockages that are preventing me from self-actualizing or are dulling out the voice of God and making my work less effective. And that falls on the error side of ‘too much personal responsibility’.
On the other hand, I want to pass Satan 101: The Traps He Lays so I don’t keep stumbling into the pitfalls and getting scraped. But that too is an error in thinking. The evil in the world isn’t that powerful. So to give too much time or attention to figuring that out would also be an error.
Jesus gives us the answer as this scene concludes, Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. (v. 27)
Remember that: Greater is He who is in You than he who is in the world.
What does that mean? For me, today, it means that I don’t need to fear. I don’t need to give away my power to those who think I’m crazy. I don’t need to explain myself or shrink back when opposition comes. I can stand tall and strong. Like the strong man who is not afraid of going into a weaker man’s house. He doesn’t ask permission or give too much time or attention to him. He ignores him and does what he needs to do.
So if you are on a good path today and you feel some resistance know that is normal. Keep going. Don’t allow it to distract you. Don’t give it too much authority. It may show up as self-doubt or self-criticism. It may tell you that you’re not good enough and you’ll never make a difference. It may say that you’re too flawed or that the work you’re doing isn’t important. It may make you think you’re crazy.
If what you’re doing is helping others, if what you’re doing is helping YOU then press on. Let the voices linger in the back of your mind without giving them too much attention. They may not entirely silence but with a bit of deliberate ignoring you can do what you must do and find excitement and miracles exist even when those voices are present.
Believe in yourself because God believes in you. You can do amazing things with God’s help. His power is much greater. Ask for it. Act on it. And watch as the world changes, your world changes, because you didn’t give up or give in.