Remember the old cartoons that would personify your conscience arguing with itself by placing an angel-self on one shoulder and a devil-self on the other? Okay, maybe not just the old cartoons. Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove did the same with one beloved character Kronk. Anyway, I ask if you remember because I’m wondering if I’m the only person who feels that way sometimes. Maybe you’re not as cartoony as myself. Be that the case, picture instead the character Gollum in The Two Towers, formerly called Smeagol. He argues with himself between what he knows to be true and what he fears could be true.
I currently have an Angel-Amy on one shoulder and a Devil-Amy on the other. Angel-Amy remembers the professional and personal successes and achievements she’s worked hard to attain. Devil-Amy gently reminds her of all the failures and self-conscious insecurities that just won’t seem to go away. It’s a constant argument between the two, which their voices only growing louder, as escalating arguments tend to do.
These happen when a big life change comes along, especially when God is calling us to step out in faith. We like to think of all the possibilities and opportunities that lay before us in this next chapter, and we’re excited for what God could have in store. Then we remember the times we failed, how much that hurt, how hard we had to work, and we’re scared that it’s all going to go wrong…maybe we misheard God, misunderstood what He was calling us to, maybe we’re not as skilled as we thought, there’s just so much out there that we don’t know about and don’t understand…and besides, there’s so many people out there who are better than me, who am I to think I can keep up with them? I’m not qualified enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m just not “enough” anything…
Can you tell which voice I’m starting to pay attention to? It’s not necessarily getting louder, but that’s the message I’m letting in.
I know neither voice is supposed to be the “one” that I pay attention to. I know it is the Holy Spirit of God that I’m supposed to listen to. I know this. This is not new information. To quote Mia in the second Princess Diaries movie: “The concept is grasped! The execution is…a little elusive!”
I wish I could tell you there’s a happy ending to this argument in my head. Maybe the happy ending would be a straitjacket and a padded room, since I’m apparently hearing voices in my head and that would concern some people… I’m still on the journey though. I have no promise that everything will work out fine. I don’t know there’s a happy ending or a rainbow or something better than I could imagine. I don’t know what lies in the future.
I know this: no matter what happens, God is in control. I heard a story of Martin Luther this past week (forgive the paraphrase): while struggling with discouragement, depression, and despair, his loving wife approached him and said, “God is dead.” Luther was shocked and retorted, “God is not dead!” To which she responded, “It sure seems that way, the way you’re acting.”
If you need it in a more cliche, bumper sticker phraseology to remember: “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds the future.” Catchy, ain’t it? I’ve heard it so many times, I’m sorry I can’t credit the origin.
He lives. He loves me. I am His child. He won’t protect me from everything that’s difficult or a struggle, but I’m not out of His sight while I’m growing and learning through the tough stuff. I will fall down. I will make a mistake. He’s there with me. He still loves me. He still lives. I’m scared. I doubt myself. I don’t need to doubt Him. But trusting Him does not mean a happily ever after. But I still trust Him. He lives.
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NLT)