Dare to Change

This morning, Father B’s homily rankled…at first.

The priest at St. George’s message was taken from the Gospel story in Luke about Jesus commanding the “legion” of demons to leave the long-time tormented man.  Father B started out by asking what makes people, such as successful rock stars and actors, commit suicide?  He posed that many people need more than money and fame to be happy.  (So far, so good.)  Then the priest made a rapid shift to call those ‘things that make us unhappy’ …those needs and addictions…our demons.

Now, before I go on, I would like to fill in what immediately came to my mind:   I was correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder around 1998.  Many people, myself included, often think that the demons referred to in the Bible are actually what we today call mental illness.

Father B’s next point was: “These are demons of our own creation.”   What!?!

The power of a sermon is largely due to the tradition of sitting there quietly and listening…all the way through.

While he was talking, and I was taking notes, I was also recalling other aspects of the issue:  A fellow blogger wrote recently about how diseases (including mental illness and cancer) are physical manifestations of spiritual brokenness.  He received a great deal of disagreement from his readers.  In fact, I wanted to disagree…but could not; last year, after I prayed fervently but clearly to be healed of bipolar disorder, I was.  My healing required that I concurrently forgive myself and all people who had abused or neglected me from birth to the present.  I had also been through several exercises in spiritual healing (described on my blog “A Ward of Jesus.”)  The spiritual cleaning resulted in my physical healing of bipolar disorder.  I cannot deny it.

The priest went on to say, “our demons exist because we are comfortable with them.”

I have struggled with the question Jesus posed to the crippled man who lay at the side of the pool in the temple.  Jesus asked him:  “Do you want to be well?”   When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was prescribed Lithium, the classic medication for bipolar mania.  But my initial concern was, who would I be…if I were without my disorder?  I had known for over 30 years that I was unstable, emotionally, but it was a known entity to me…unpredictable, but known.  Father B had me hooked.

A habit I picked up while bipolar was the tendency to spend money I either cannot afford to spend or do not need to spend.  The reasons I have given (to God and others) for this habit, have to do with how I was raised.  But, I have been healed of those issues and I have been healed of bipolar disorder.  So, the question stands:  Am I more comfortable with this residual demon…than I would be without it?

I also know how easy it is to become attached to labels and sound-bites; it saves time (“I am bipolar.”  “I have a spending addiction.”  “I’ve had a hard life.”  “I’m a single mom.”) and covers a lot of territory.  But, are those labels, demons, too?  Father B suggests we love our demons.  I suspect they help identify us…for better or for worse.  Father B suggests that we like our demons because they make us comfortable; I would say we like them because they are familiar.  An abused wife will stay in the bad marriage because, while it is a hell, it is a known hell.

Once again, and ultimately, I have to agree with Father B.  The only thing I would add is to ask for Jesus’ help.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help identify demons and for help in shedding those demons.  There may be some ancillary confessing and forgiving to be done to allow the release of demons, but Jesus will highlight what is necessary.

Thanks be to God, and to Father B, and to God be the Glory.

 

(Challenge:  What are your demons?  What is holding you back?  Smoking?  Weight?  Mental illness?  Prejudice?  Poverty?  Hate?  Not sure?  Ask God to reveal your demons.  If you are ready to be well…post your demons in a comment here…or just say, “in process.”)

20 thoughts on “Dare to Change

  1. Those “familiar” spirits. Love the post. I do agree that we will stay in a familiar hell. Because many are more comfortable with what they know, they do prolong the agony. This also poses the problem that many have with change. Change is necessary to move forward but also requires work. It is necessary to become conscious of your actions and be deliberate in choices. That’s work. When someone gets sick and tired of being sick and tired, they will take the necessary steps to change. All that said, God is the ultimate deliverer and healer. One of the significant points in the post is that Jesus asked them, “Do you want to be well?” The choice was theirs.

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          1. Quit smoking and gambling for over 8 years. When I left my ex moved to Vegas Andy demons resurfaced in my time of weakness and vulnerability. No excuses, it is what it is. One of the things I learned in taking ownership.

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          2. Do we want to be well? I am asking as I shove Cheetos in my mouth. You said, “It is what it is.”. I used that same saying recently and I need to look back and see where and why because I think that IS an excuse…at least when I said it.

            I need to ask Father B about the connection and distinction between “our demons” and demonic forces because I suspect that during those times of weakness and vulnerability, as you say, the evil one attempts to convince us that we are defeated, weak, and powerless to do anything about it…and he is WRONG (hand closes Cheetos bag.)

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          3. Lol..Sometimes, it is what it is, is just that. Everything is not an excuse. I use the phrase when I need to move out of the way (especially when I cross boundaries in helping others), or changes need to come in the future in God’s timing. Sometimes it is a place u can move forward from. You can’t move forward when you can’t accept what a thing is.

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          4. Got ya.
            Along the lines of weight…tomorrow I find out if I have diabetes.. yippie…or worsened thyroid issues…more yippie. I think my days of cheetoes are over.

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          5. My former church in Asheville holds a healing service every Tuesday night. On one Tuesday a month, the healing service is a special generational healing where they focus on issues, diseases, addictions, abuses, etc. that have been in the family for generations.

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          6. New…and old. if you are interested, check out the Episcopal churches in your area. Or, search online for the Order of St. Luke. Than is a cross-denominational order of healing ministers. Highly recommended.

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  2. “Who would I be without my disorder?” A question that really gets me thinking. Who would I be if I would only eat because I am hungry instead of using food as comfort, something for when I am bored etc. Going to have to ponder this one. Thanks for making me think.

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  3. Trusting God into the unknown is hard. Like the Israelites leaving Egypt. They were being freed from their bondage, but complained along the way. They didn’t like the food (manna was weird) and longed for the “way it used to be”. But look at what God had in store for them! Receiving healing is also trusting in Him. I recently stepped out of bondage and I’m headed to the promise land. I miss the old ways from time to time, but God has been faithful with His provision and promises along the way. He’s good. He’s faithful and trustworthy and when I get to the promise land, I’ll be even more grateful for “wanting to get well”! Praying for you!

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  4. As you may have alluded to sometimes even while sharing the gospel to the hunting we reduce the complex into “sound bites”. I’m glad father b had the opportunity to clarify before you tuned out of the message. I am happy also that you heard him all the out. The sickness we all suffer from is sin. It manifest in different ways. We classify certain symptoms far harsher than others. The temptation to disobey God was introduced by the enemy but ultimately we chose or choose to sin. Like many addictions they began harmoniously. In others words it liked us and we liked it. Sin or disobedience to God is the greatest addiction and the symptoms are merely the addictions. Christ is our hope, and deliverance from the plague of death that sickness brings.

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    1. Boiling it down into a ‘sound-bite,’ I think of anything …good or bad…that distracts us from God (preoccupation with winning converts, pride in my own ability to communicate directly with Jesus, reluctance to trust and making lists of what not to forget to pack, caring more about my dress and hat than listening to His whispers in the words of other church goers, … all of these are sin. Anything and everything that is not connection with God is sin.

      It is so simple: God wants one thing…our connection to Him. Everything else gets in the way of that; everything else is sin.

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