Our demons too often speak for us, drawing us into stories and lives that aren't really ours. But what are these demons?
It's a good question, particularly because it is one that I don't think most of us can answer well. Our eyes are so fixed on the things seen that we struggle with the unseen world, and this is very much to our detriment. Especially when fighting demons.
Maybe we give our demons "feeling" words - words like fear, shame, insecurity, anger, doubt, or any of the other number of words we might put here. It certainly feels like these are the things of darkness, these are the things that limit our thriving in the world. It certainly seems like these are the kinds of things that stand between us and God. But these things are generally dragons, not demons.
These things, as unpleasant as they often are, are not necessarily evil things. Fear, shame, insecurity, anger, doubt, or whatever word we might put here can be tremendously beautiful things, embraced in the right way. These things can draw us closer to God. A demon can never do that. A demon cannot be a beautiful thing. You can never reach a point in your life where you are thankful for a demon. That's why these things are smoke and mirrors, fire from the dragon's nostrils. You might one day understand what does not make sense today.
Maybe we give our demons "story" words - scenes from our lives that we can't come to terms with, moments we had to live that we know broke us. Sometimes, we call these "memories." These are the things we are so afraid will define us forever, the experiences we'll never be able to live down. These are the stories we can't seem to get out of, that others keep reminding us of, that we keep reminding ourselves of. It's easy to say that our stories are our demons because it feels like they keep us from living God's story. We're trapped in another narrative. But stories, too, no matter how painful, are dragons, not demons.
See, you have to be able to cast demons out and still be standing. You can't do that if your demons are your story. Without your story, you're not "something less;" you're nothing at all. Without every single scene from your life, you do not exist. And contrary to popular belief, that's not what demons want from you. They don't want you to disappear. They don't want you to be nothing. They want you to be empty.
If our demons are not what is seen about us, even when they seem to do all the talking - if they are not our feelings or our stories - then what are they? What are we fighting against?
We're fighting against the darkness that tells us these things are not beautiful.
That's it, really. Our demons are our darkness. They are the things that blind our eyes. They are the thoughts, the ideas, the notions we have that this is all there is, that we're trapped in whatever we're in right now, that we'll never be more because we're far too busy being left, and that broken can never be beautiful.
If you want to fight the demons in your life, turn on the light. Turn on the light and discover that shame doesn't have to be a bad thing. When Adam and Eve were bound by shame, they discovered the tender hand of God as He helped them to cover what felt so exposed. Turn on the light and discover that insecurity doesn't have to be a bad things. Insecurity often drives us into the arms of a God who is sure. Turn on the light and discover a story where all the little scenes are woven together into an incredible you, where you make perfect sense, and where everything you've been through and everything you know - good and bad and worse - makes you a beautiful creation of a loving God.
Turn on the light and discover your dragons. They're not there to scare you; you are merely in their keep. There is something amazingly precious about you that your dragons are set to guard. Dragons don't guard chambermaids; they protect princesses. If you have dragons in your life, you're a princess. And the light always comes through the windows in even the tallest towers.
That's what we're fighting against. Not fire-breathing dragons, but light-stealing demons. Our fight is not against the very things that make us who we are, that make us something, that make us precious in the eyes of God. Our fight is against the darkness that keeps us from seeing the light.
And our demons will do everything in their power to keep us from seeing that.
You want to know what your demons are? Stop looking for them. Darkness is always unseen; it's a game of shadows. Smoke and mirrors. You want to know what your demons are? Start looking around and seeing what it is you cannot see. Open your eyes and search for the light, for one small glimmer of light that even the darkest of darkness cannot drive out. Open your eyes until they adjust to the dimness, until you can almost begin to see. There are your demons. Forms in the darkness, shadows in the night.
Turn on the light.