Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fear and Demons

The Scratching Monster
My first demon, the Scratching Monster, appeared at my Grandmother Brown's window screen when my sister, Susi, and I spent the night.  The Scratching Monster didn't appreciate two little girls, ages four and five, sleeping in his room while he slept on the sofa. Decades before post traumatic stress disorder showed up in a psychological journal, my grandparents went along with it, laughed, and nodded when our fourteen year old Uncle Jimmy asked, "Did you girls hear the scratching monster last night?" Identifying him as the Scratching Monster made it slightly less scary, but when he scratched again, we were frightened.

Another childhood demon was our National "Guardian" daddy walking into our dark bedroom wearing a gas mask. Although mom stood next to him laughing, we were terrified.  Then there was the completely inept babysitter who gathered me, Susi, and our four cousins into the den until our parents returned because "someone was in the kitchen." No one was in the kitchen, so needless to say, she never babysat for us again.

Something sinister at the Anderson County Fair haunted house snatched my plastic headband right off my head, so other than Disney's humorous Haunted Mansion, I never visited another haunted house until my senior year of high school.  Persuaded by my church youth group, I walked through the Anderson Mall haunted house but couldn't tell you what it was like since I was led through it, eyes closed, squeezing tightly the arms of friends.

Due West, S.C.
Main Street, Due West, S.C.
And since I don't learn lessons easily, my childhood best friend, Allyson, and I sat through the first hour of Friday the 13th with our eyes closed before running out of the theater.  And months later, at the end of Halloween, my date vowed to never take me to another scary movie.  That's ok, I didn't need him.  I saw Halloween II with college friends. A few nights later, I walked from the Erskine library back to my dorm in the middle of the street.  Due West, with its old homes and tree lined sidewalks, looked eerily like the fictional Haddonfield. 

Obviously, I'm easily frightened, so I married a horror movie buff who thought it would be funny to play the Halloween movie theme on our piano at night or on the church organ in the dark chapel when I went back to look for my bible one Sunday night. Now that I'm a tough grown up, though, I don't mind an occasional scary movie on the sofa with my eyes closed.

Also as a tough grown up, I'm not afraid to be alone at night, except for the time the scratching monster tried to open my dining room window screen. I knew my Uncle Jimmy wasn't in town, and my vicious Labrador Hershey was absolutely no help, so I called 911 with the house phone. With my cell phone, I called Clay, my neighbor who probably regrets giving me his number after shining his flashlight under a tree. "Is that what you heard?"  My new scratching monster was a cat.    

As a child, I was afraid of cemeteries and mortuaries and had to sleep with my mom after a scary movie.  "Katy, it isn't the people under the ground or the monsters in the movies you should be afraid of.  It's the live ones." How true, Mom, how true.  

It is a few of the live ones we need to fear, especially the live one in the mirror. One of my favorite songs is "Demons" by Imagine Dragons. They sing, "look into my eyes, it's where my demons hide."

We don't see many people possessed by evil spirits today.  We now refer to demons as life's fears not caused by haunted houses or the scratching monster. They're caused by us and live inside. Why did or didn't I do that? What will happen and how will I live with it? Why did this sin happen again and why can't I forget? What kind of parent am I and what will happen to my children? How do I solve problems I've created?

Other demons, more frightening and dangerous than the ones on television or the scratching monster, are often handed to us at a young age from people we love and trust, intentionally or unintentionally.  These insecurities and fears are the most difficult, and as much as we try to erase them with busyness, alcohol, drugs, food, money, relationships, or STUFF, they hide for decades, waiting to destroy us until we realize who they actually fear.

"Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon - an evil spirit - began shouting at Jesus, "Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" Luke 4:33-34

This is Good News for us and bad news for those demons.  Yes, He did come to destroy them. Yes, they fear him.  I love Jesus' response.

"Jesus cut him short. 'Be quiet! Come out of the man.' Luke 4:35

The Message says, Jesus shut him up.  And he will.  

"I cried to Him, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4
Fears and demons sometimes make us cry.  He'll calm our fears and dry our tears, but when they return to destroy us, because we're human, He'll pull them out from behind our eyes and command them to leave again. His Holiness cuts them short.  Fear and demons leave with His presence.