We Are Many
I wanted to start this as an open letter to the church with the title "We are Many" but then it dawned on me that it's not just the church that needs to hear it. To that regard, most people don't even care about open letters anymore and write them off as spam or some sort of bitter diatribe about that persons most recent offense. I'm torn on whether or not I still want to state this as an open letter, but for the time being, we'll just leave it open (yes I crack myself up lol) and address the church.
I was having a conversation very recently with someone that I highly respect and admire and they said something to me that resonated in a way it never had before even though I had heard it probably a hundred times at least. Actually, there were a couple of things that were said to me that hit home rather hard. I'm sure most of you have heard them - or maybe you haven't - but I really felt impressed to spread what I have gleaned from it. Gleaned sounds so pompous sometimes, amitrite?! lol Essentially it just means that I took something away from the differing topics of the conversation. I promise it's not rocket science and I'm not touting a change in anything in your life that you don't want to change (but an expansive vocabulary is never bad to have. *wink*)
All of my life, I have been a heap of a mess that sludges her way through life and experiences and seems to only really ever absorb all the bad things that have ever happened to me. I don't deserve anything other than pain because that's all that's ever been given to me, right? My sludge bore me a victimhood mentality that I masked with "strength" and "compassion" and "acceptance". None of those things individually are bad attributes to have, but when you use them to cover up or hide yourself from the prying, judgmental eyes of the world, it turns you into something else. Something worse than just a victim... you become a horror house of mirrors that shows you that you just are who you are, mess, upon mess, upon mess. You recognize the distortions and the blemishes, the scars and the open wounds, and you use them as a way to attack others and justify your behavior. You decide that this is who you are now, or maybe have always been. You've bought into the lies.
"Well, this is just who I am, so take it or leave it."
"I was made into this and there's no hope for me."
"I was born this way so it isn't my fault."
"No one accepts me because they can't understand."
"You try dealing with what I've dealt with and then talk to me about my behavior."
"You have NO idea what I've been through so you don't get to tell me how to live my life."
"A leopard can't change it's spots anymore than I can change who I am."
"I'm biologicially predispositioned to be alone and misunderstood."
Do any of those sound familiar to you? Have you said something similar to that in your life? Do you feel like you are special and so unique that you can't possibly relate to anyone else because they haven't had it as bad as you? Do you push everyone away with your scars and wounds and carry them like a thousand pound gorilla on your back that whispers failure after failure in your ear? Have you let your past and your hurts consume you to the point that you can't even see how toxic your behavior has become and how it's left you alone and hurting even more because you refuse to put on your big girl/big boy pants and acknowledge there needs to be a change?
I could keep up with that line of thought and fill a few pages with all the excuses and lines and denial that come with a life lived like that, because I used to live that life. If I'm being honest, it still hangs around like a tick you don't know is there. It kills you slowly and you feed it with every negative thought, feeling, or action you have. You're an accomplice to spiritual homocide.
Now I know you're thinking, "Hold up, hold up, HOLD UP! I am not! How dare you presume to know what I am like, you don't KNOW me!" Oh contrare mon ami... I know you better than you know yourself, because I AM you. If you'll just stay with me a bit longer, I promise I'm coming to a point.
I was a participant in something that was universally harmless in the natural world, I expressed what took place with someone I was supposed to, and the response I got was resoundingly not what I thought it was going to be. See, all my life, with my sludge and mess, I've searched out people who are like me. I cling to them thinking it will make me better somehow. We all do it, let's not lie, k?
When I came into church I would gravitate toward the people that felt the most like me because that's where I felt most comfortable. That scriptures (there are many) about familiar spirits and so on... yea, that's a real thing and it's something that we need to pray against and safeguard our minds against. I felt so disconnected from people in church who didn't look like me, talk like me, act like me, or think like me and it sent me searching for the people in church who did. Up until recently I found that to be a comfort and a way to grow spiritually without all the condemnation and shame of not being demure and prim and proper. I'm an acquired taste, y'all, I REALLY am. lol It's hard to feel like you connect with people who look like they have it at least partially together.
So when I was presented with a scenario totally not involving me, but in a way, completely and inadvertently involving me, what was said hit me like a ton of bricks and I just wanted to weep. I've always thought that people who have come before me and are like me, who have been in ministry, have a great anointing on their lives, and for all intents and purposes seemed healthy, that they would be the ones to help me grow through my mess and become spiritually more mature.
This is a trap, don't listen to that voice!
I know we all want to feel like we belong somewhere and that we can only really learn from someone who has endured what we have, but the thing about that is, we really don't learn anything and we never grow or bear fruit unless THEY do. We keep cycling each other through each others messes and we stagnate for so long that we don't even realize that we are even more unhealthy than when we started. It's not something we realize, as I said earlier, it's like a tick that slowly feeds on you till spiritual death.
Bear with me a little longer, as I make this analogy, and please try to be open minded and not stone me. It's just my opinion and we all know what those are worth, right? But this is what dawned on me... You know that scripture about the demoniac and how he was possessed with legion?
"And Jesus asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
What if, in our modern day, the best way to come against the church is to use the broken, messed up and hopeless to cannibalize itself slowly from within because we become offended or hurt and refuse to step out of our mess and grow spiritually. What if WE have become legion because we are many? The demoniac ran to the feet of Jesus and pleaded to be delivered from the evil that possessed and tormented him. He asked and he received.
So that begs the question, do we run to the feet of Jesus or do we run to another church or another Pastor or fall away from church all together because we don't find what we are looking for, for what soothes the demons inside of us? Legion may have been contained in one man in biblical times, but the spirit of legion skips through our churches like it's a playground, just looking to find the right person to take hold of. It is the spirit of the air right now, just look at our culture and society... we get offended by everything and we expect everyone to just accept us for who we are because we "can't" change what is fundamentally in our DNA. Collectively, the ones of us that never grow, are continuously unhappy, blame everyone else for our sorrows, take no responsibility for our actions, and show no real spiritual maturity have now become another piece of legion. If I'm wrong, say so... If this makes sense then spread it like wildfire.
1 Peter 5:8 says...
"Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
The mindset that we are just who we are and we can't change, means that the devil has had you locked in his sights and his devils have been working on you so long that you've assimilated into his "legion". You, me, us.. we really are one of the many now. He doesn't have to devour you flesh and bone, but spiritually you can be picked clean to it.
I hope this scares you enough to open your eyes and reevaluate the things you say, the way you act, and beg God to help release you from your torment. It's no coincidence to me that people who suffer with the most anguish cut themselves. It's the spirit of legion working in their lives just like the demoniac.
Find someone who is NOT like you, probably the farthest thing from you, and request that they give you guidance or counsel. Let them be a shining example to you so that you don't spend so many wasted years stuck with the voices of the enemy in your head. Crawl tooth and nail to the feet of Jesus until you start to see real change in your life. He doesn't want to see you spiritually dead being feasted on by the darkness of this world.
Yes things have happened that have shaped your character, but your patterns and behaviors don't have to reflect the horror house of mirrors you've lived with your whole life. Only God can know the motives of a man's heart, the rest of us just speculate off their ethics and behaviors. Let God help you shatter each mirror one at a time and be the kind of person who is ethically sound and behaviorally bears the fruit of the spirit.
When I realized that I was searching out people like me to mentor, guide and friend me, God convicted me down to my bones and told me that if I kept on this path, I would not be effective in my family, with my kids, in ministry, with friends, with those who don't know Jesus, I would stroke and coddle my victim metality into a lull, to the point I end up right in the pits of hell. So, if there is anything that I can leave you with, it's this...
Never presume to know the motives of a mans heart, decide who he is based on his actions and growth, and never let yourself fall into the trap of a legion mindset that keeps you from being real and honest and working toward spiritual maturity and growth. Cling to the people that exhibit these behaviors in their lives and shadow them either closely or from afar. And tell the devil that you will no longer be one of the many! It will bless you in times of drought and struggle, I promise.
Even flowers grow in the desert. Your dysfunction and mess is just a season of dry spells and the oasis of living water is just a few steps away. Take the first steps to the throne room and lay it all down at the feet of Jesus, He's waiting to turn the release valve on and let His living water flow through your belly as it's always been meant to.
Thanks for listening to me ramble and throw out some ideas that might not be well received, but I believe to be real and pertinent. Connect with your body today, reach out, and maybe invite someone out to coffee that you never would have taken a second glance at. Don't talk about yourself but ask about them. Be interested in their story and what they have to say. Start to unify with your church family and tell the devil that legion needs to take a nosedive off a cliff because you won't perpetuate that spirit in your life or church anymore.
God Bless you for listening and I hope that has encouraged you or at the very least gotten your wheels turning. ♥♥
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