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Facing Your Demons


In the Small Group I lead on Mondays we have been reading CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce. So many things in this story catch my spiritual attention!  For instance how I don’t always love others the way that God loves them, that true love is allowing others freedom to be who they are and freedom to become their best selves rather than what I think they “ought” to be or do.

In both The Great Divorce and Screwtape Letters, Lewis is very clear that the danger of this Christian life isn’t succumbing to we would all call bad or evil as these things are quite clear, but rather those “false religions” which appear to be good on the outside (like motherly love, patriotism, pacifism, devotion to the arts) but are twisted and altered by selfish desire, sin, and extremism. When distorted, these ways of being that may at first appear noble, holy and good, become less than righteous and in truth are void of anything close to love.

Yesterday’s class covered Chapter Eleven.  A Ghost who made it from Gray Town (purgatory, or in some cases Hell for those who end up staying there forever) came towards the main character, who is also a ghost in this story about heaven and hell, with something peculiar on his shoulder.  As Ghosts go he was quite different from the others ones the central character had seen on his journey toward heaven.  This one was dark and oily and had a little red lizard perched on his shoulder that whispered in his ear and whipped its tail around.  Yes, you’ve got it. . . a demon.  This demon taunted the ghost and they argued back and forth about what would happen next even to the point of the ghost not being sure if he would allow the angel to kill the demon- that might be a bit too extreme, he thought.

It makes me think: How do we face our demons if we face them at all?  It can be an excruciating process to face certain demons that plague us. . . bad memories, traumatic experiences, our sin, guilt and grief over the past.

In 1990 I graduated from Ohio University in Athens.  I spent four years there exhibiting moments of absolute brilliance coupled with entire quarters of being lost, in pain, distraught and abused.  Yes, you heard me right.  Abused.  ( I won’t bore you with details.) The worst things that could happen did happen and they have  haunted me for 20+ years.  On the track in Peden Stadium I had an incredible Track and Field career- several school records, a couple of MAC Championships, and four MVP and Most Points Scored Awards.  Because of the emotional situation I was trapped in I had quarters of sheer perfection and stints of absolute apathy.  The result of this emotional roller coaster ride was a decent GPA, graduation with honors, yet not good enough to go on to Medical School.  Disappointing to be sure. . . but all of that has made me who I am today: one in touch with my own demons, my own pain and sinfulness, an awareness of my temporary separation from the One who loves me like no other, and a deep gratitude for God’s forgiveness and love.

So then, 22 years later my daughter makes it for the second time in her young life to the Scripps Howard Regional Spelling Bee which is quite an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a 10 year old in the 5th grade.  And guess where it’s to be held?  The place where the Scripps School of Journalism is located, none other than Ohio University, Athens.  I probably don’t have to tell you that I have mixed emotions about this trip.  I am incredibly excited for my beautiful daughter. . . and yet I am anxious and nervous about returning to this wilderness place.  I have 30 days to prepare myself.  I have a few questions to ask God in my solitude and prayer:  Will You be there?  Will all of the memories rush back?  Will I be able to keep it together?  How will I feel when I’m on Athens soil?

Well the journey back to where I spent four wilderness years turned out to be much less traumatic than I imagined.  Funny how we tend to imagine the worst. . . fear takes ahold of us and keeps us from doing something that turns out to be wonderful.  I saw the places where I used to run and jump, the places that I loved so dearly.  I saw it in a whole new light and through the eyes of my daughter.  Because of my own demons I had blocked out all of the good, well almost all of it!  But returning to the beautiful campus reminded me that God was always there and I simply did not see it or feel his abiding presence.  That’s part of the journey I suppose, seeing in hindsight that Christ was fully present, even then.

I faced my demons and came out better for it.  I was not alone in that face off!  I was bolstered by prayers and I felt at peace that the One who journeys with us was right beside me and it wasn’t so scary after all!  I can actually see one of my children attending Ohio University in the future, visiting them there, making trips back and forth to what might be their school someday. . . something I couldn’t even think about before.  While I was there I was reminded of how much I love that place, how much a part of me it really is. . . it is the most beautiful campus I have ever been on and I will forever be a bobcat.  More importantly I have a deeper understanding of how God used my pain and dark experiences to shape me and form me into who I am today.

I, like the ghost with the red lizard on his shoulder, allowed the angel to kill the demon that plagued me!  I had to choose to let go of it and move forward- what a relief!  What freedom!  Thanks be to God!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 13March2012 09:28

    Thanks be to God, indeed! Holding you close, with Him. Praising Him, with you!

  2. 14March2012 07:45

    Thanks for your transparency; this is a very timely post for me. I’m happy for you that your return to the place of your pain also revealed many positives.

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