I used to love horror movies as a kid. We had an old show called Sir Ghastly Graves that featured classic horror movies from the past – Dracula, the Werewolf, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and various other creepy characters that sent delicious chills down my spine. I would run inside promptly at show time and watch, slack jawed, as scary creatures chased down unsuspecting victims. Yet somehow these creatures were always defeated in the end. There were crosses, holy water, stakes, garlic, silver bullets, fire – it was all quite fascinating to me.
Then one Saturday morning it all changed. Up until that point all the victims I saw were adults. In my young mind I reasoned children were immune. On this particular morning, there was a vampire movie where an innocent child was bitten and turned into a “creature of the night.” I realized I wasn’t immune from evil after all.
I still watched Sir Ghastly Graves every Saturday after that fateful day, but I also had nightmares every night for two years afterwards and slept with a stuffed animal or doll at my neck just to be safe. Did I know there were no such things as monsters? Of course. In the middle of the blackness of night, alone in the silence of my room, however, it was a little bit harder to convince myself.
As horrible as that sounds, what eventually helped me defeat my nightmares was truth. I would mentally bring out each monster before me, address it by name, look at its powers, and then tell it, “but you aren’t real.” I would force myself to examine the worst it could do. Then I would remind myself not only was the creature not real, but it had no power over me. Then the monster would simply fade away. It only took a few weeks of consistently confronting my demons before they fled permanently.
As adults, I think we all have a tendency to carry around demons and ghosts of a different nature. That one fateful, thoughtless decision we made, the horrible and unfair treatment we received at the hands of another, the circumstances we should have been able to control but couldn’t, or the ugly ways we’ve treated someone we genuinely cared about come back to haunt us, overpowering us with fear, despair and lack of worth. We still can lay awake at night, unable to sleep, consumed by the memories that haunt us. We keep ourselves incredibly busy so we don’t have time to think, or get sucked into the swamp of defeatist thinking.
Interestingly, I have found truth to still be the most powerful weapon in defeating my own emotional monsters I have had to battle. Anger, depression, self-pity, sadness, anger, you name it. Truth slays it every time. How? Great question! This is what Jesus says, “If you hear my voice and abide in my word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the truth, and that truth will give you freedom,” (Jn. 8:31-32 VOICE).
So truth brings freedom. But what is that truth? Consider Romans 8:28,31-35-37:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose … What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all –how will he not also, along with him graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also pleading for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
God’s unconditional love and acceptance are my truth. My demons have no power of me. Oh, there are certainly lessons to be learned, possible apologies to be given or forgiveness to be granted—none of which are necessarily easy—but there is nothing I haven’t already been forgiven for. Nothing. If God doesn’t condemn me, if Jesus thought I was worth enough to give up his life for, who am I to condemn myself and hold onto the guilt and shame that’s already been taken away? And if I’ve been forgiven of so much, who am I to withhold forgiveness from another? Most importantly, if I’m loved so very deeply, which God makes crystal clear I am, who am I to not love myself in return?
So on the days your demons get the better of you, don’t be afraid to face them head on with God by your side. You are not alone, and you are worthwhile. The process may be hard and it may get messy, but it leads to freedom, grace and peace for those who train themselves by it. Open yourself up to receive!
For further thought: “Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it,” (2 Cor. 3:18 VOICE). Think of a chrysalis metamorphosing into a beautiful butterfly. What are the ways God is trying to help you metamorphose? Feel free to share with the rest of the Dented Fender crowd!