I had a rough weekend. We are having a pretty challenging time with one of the kiddos. I found myself at a point where I just felt done. Done with experiencing all of the anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness and crazy that comes along with this particular situation. And so I turned back to old coping mechanisms, dancing with my demons, aiming to dull the feelings and attain some semblance of control.
But then Saturday night, I was faced with the Gospel reading for Sunday, and found myself in the story.
Mark 1:21-28 They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
The Gospel story is interesting, because Jesus had not called the man to him, nor had anyone shoved him forward to be healed. But he cries out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are…” bringing attention to himself, whether he wanted it or not. He could have just left the synagogue, without speaking to Jesus, but there had to have been something about being in the presence and authority of Jesus that drew the man out.
I relate to the man with the unclean spirit. When I hold hands with my demons, God is always right there, waiting for me to engage with Him, so that He can heal me. But it can be a struggle. His presence draws me, and yet, my demons whisper to me, “Why would God want anything to do with you? If anything, he’s here to destroy you. I know who He is….too holy for you!”
And so, with my demons, I hear myself cry out in distrust, “Why are you here? You’re going to destroy me! I know who You are, but I want to be in control!”
So I’ve engaged with Him, me and my demons, and as the demons continue yelling their lies, God says, “Silence!” and calls me to Himself, away from them. And in their silence, my feelings rush in and I feel utterly out of control. He is destroying me – my self-will and fear and shame and addiction and the untrue things I have been told and believed about myself. He destroys my self-reliance and the control I try to maintain for dealing with the hard things in my life, and that feels like death to me. But He’s freeing me. I can’t look at Him at first. But He sweetly calls, “Jennifer, my dear one.” And I can’t resist the way He says my name, so I look at Him through my tears. And I find nothing but gentle compassion.
I know who He is – the one with authority over life and death, feelings, and my very breath.
I know who He is – the One who has called me His Beloved, silencing my demons once more. So, I walk on in recovery and life, hand-in-hand with the One who loves me through it all.