Step 2: We believe against all odds that sanity is within our grasp.
…At least, we’ve all seen other people who seem startlingly well adjusted. These people do not feel the need to inquire around the table whether it would be offensive to anybody whether they have a glass of wine with dinner, apologize for seconds, or – in my case – feel compelled to check the passports of all involved. (In my family, drinking a glass of wine was only justified if offered by foreigners for the purpose of being an ambassador for Christ.) Sanity must, therefore, be attainable.
Granted, I do sometimes question this. Let’s just take some of my past conversations with demons as an example.
As a teenager, I was pretty much consumed with the idea that these fallen beings (as well as the unfallen variety) were occupying the same space as I was. I had read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and felt fairly confident that if I could just see beyond the thin veil that separates this physical world from the spiritual one, I would spy black winged creatures staring hungrily at me from the corners of my room, just waiting to get a go at my soul with their tragic manicures.
The reason I didn’t collapse into a puddle of nerves every time I was left alone was that I believed just as strongly that I also had angels on duty protecting me from them. Since the ratio of angels to demons given in the Bible is 2:1 when God threw the rebellious ones to the earth, I figured they were sorely outnumbered–so why worry if, while I was sleeping, one was tucked in amongst my line-up of stuffed animals and staring out at me like an unholy ET? I would simply tell it to go away. Speak firmly into the darkness and order it–in Jesus’ name–back to where it belongs.
Or, alternatively, I would try to relate with them.
I mean, the Bible says that the angels who were thrown to the earth had chosen to follow Lucifer in a large-scale rebellion, and I imagined there might be a few who regretted that decision. When I did something wrong, I simply had to ask for forgiveness, but this didn’t seem to be an option for that crew. For that, I explained to the demon in my dust ruffle, I was terribly sorry. It wasn’t my fault that it wanted out and was bitter that I still had a choice. I didn’t make the rules. Maybe if a few of them formed a secret brotherhood, they could approach the Big Guy privately and humbly request a transfer upon completion of a certain amount of community service hours.
All this is to say that it’s not exactly an overnight event that brings a person out of a world of spirits into a world of the physical.
It took time to stop accusing the demons of stealing my keys instead of acknowledging that I am a hopeless mess and simply need to place a key hook by my door.
It took time to stop expecting angels to blow threatening clouds away from my picnic and on to someone else’s.
It took time to stop begging night after night to let me just see a peek of what my guardian angel looks like when I open my eyes (and to please not let me pee my pants if I did).
Like I said, I was obsessed.
And the truth is, I don’t really know what to think about angels and demons right now. They could exist–I don’t know. It’s not really relevant. My point is more that even though I’ve stopped obsessing over what I can’t see, feel, hear, touch or in any way actually perceive aside from the goosebumps I was very likely giving myself, it’s still difficult to not think of myself as being beaten a bit too much by the crazy stick at some point in my life. Why? Because it was extreme. Because every time I make a mistake or misplace something or say something bad about somebody, it feels just a little too convenient to blame a demon for the infraction. It’s something I’ve had to retrain myself over.
I am responsible for the crap I do. Blaming an invisible gremlin is insanity. And the fact that I still knee-jerk react to my own shortcomings as if they are something outside my power (even though I no longer believe it to be the case)…bothers me.
I would so desperately like to embrace the sanity. I’ve seen others do it. And once the angels clear away these clouds of obfuscation, I believe I will be able to do it, too.