A tiny demon stands on each of my shoulders, whispering distress into my ear, directly to my brain. To my soul. They’re not the cartoon, red-hued, pitch fork toting, maniacally laughing demons of imagination.
They’re more real than that.
On my left is a pioneer woman. Not The Pioneer Woman (love that lady). Think Dust Bowl. Think wind-burned, chapped-hands, faded calico, prairie woman, with a hungry baby or two, faces hidden in her skirts.
On my right is a small, orphaned child. He works in a garbage dump, digging through the refuse for bits and pieces he can sell, hands riddled with scars and feet tender with open sores.
Now, they could be angels, right? Reminding me, when needed, to be grateful for what I have. Grateful for modern appliances and Western medicine.
But, I am certain they are not.
Because they whisper to me when I am already fearful. When I am already low. When I already doubt and grieve and cry and despair.
They lean in and say,
“How dare you? How dare you sit there, overwhelmed by your laundry and your dishes and your chores? Look at my chapped hands! Use a washboard, make your own soap, afford only 2 changes of clothes and then you can feel sorry for yourself!”
“How dare you?! How dare you sit there in your mommy-guilt, obsessing over discipline failures, preschool choices and her non-balanced lunch? I don’t go to school! I don’t have parents! I don’t eat! Find something worth your time to worry about!”
And I sink. I sink lower and lower into the grey, into the mucky darkness, until I am paralyzed. I can’t move, for disturbing the demons. I’m so afraid to wake them. Wake their insidious ire.
Nothing I do will ever satisfy them. Nothing I do is good enough, hard enough, gentle enough…worthy of their admiration. Worthy of their praise.
And I wake up. I realize I don’t want that. I don’t want the love of demons.
They are of fear, and fear is not of God.
Fear is not of God.
That becomes my mantra, over and over.
Until it is my battle cry.
Fear is not of God!
And I flick. Flick the demons off my shoulders. It is a tiny movement, but heavy and hard. So very hard.
Only as they spiral away do I see their true form. Their evil form. The stuff of nightmares. And I am happy to be free.
Not free of guilt. Not free of worry and sadness and hard times.
But free of the whispers…
And free of the fear.