Embrace light, and rebuke the doubter
Sadly, this will be my last column. Thank you so much for reading over the years. I have enjoyed writing for all of you and hope we can keep in touch! You can contact me through my website: SusanSparks.com.
Some days, you just feel it. It's like a disruption in the force, a heaviness, a weight. It can take many different forms – negative voices in our heads, anger, resentment, dread, fear, anxiety or hopelessness. And let's be clear, this intruder has a face.
The great psychotherapist Carl Jung called it our shadow self, our weak spot. It's a voice that says you're not good enough, not important or not loveable. It's a voice that urges us to be right and in control all the time, to think only of ourselves. It's a voice that steals our grounding and encourages us to make bad decisions or act in destructive ways.
While Jung called that voice our shadow self, other sources, such as Greek mythology and Native American traditions, call it a trickster: a character who exhibits intellect or secret knowledge and uses it to play tricks and defy conventional behavior.
Check. I know one or two of those myself.
Although I like the names shadow and trickster, being a Baptist (and a fan of the "Church Lady" from the old Saturday Night Live skits), I prefer to call that voice "Satan."
That's why from the beginning of my ministry, I've had a sign on my desk that says, "Not Today, Satan!" In fact, to fight what I call Satan and his sneaky, corrosive messages, I have devised a sure-fire, three-point plan. It's quick, easy, and simple to remember because the first letters of each step spell P-O-W.
Step 1: P – Pivot out of his line of fire
It's a simple concept. In life, if you see that you're about to get hit, you duck. It's the same with negative voices. We know our weak spots, the things that drive us crazy and wear us down. When we see them coming, we should just pivot!
If it's a person, then pivot and walk away.
If it's the daily headlines, then pivot and take a news break.
If it's the crazy people on Facebook ... then pivot and get offline!
STEP 2: O – Occupy the light
We get so caught up in the dark shadow of negative messages that sometimes we forget what it feels like to walk in the light. Once we pivot out of that shadow, we need to restore ourselves with positive healing. We must occupy the light. It's like the book of Philippians teaches: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
When we pivot out of the line of fire and then occupy the light, the devil has no chance. And that's where step three comes in.
Step 3: W – Whack the devil upside the head
I am reminded of two things here. First, Jesus' words in the book of Matthew: "Get behind me, Satan!" And second, a quote I recently saw on Pinterest: "The devil whispered in my ear, you're not strong enough to withstand the storm. Today, I whispered in the devil's ear, I am the storm."
We can't afford to let our weak spots weaken us. We can't afford to burn energy on infighting and corrosive behavior. There is work to be done. There is life to be lived. So, when the shadows come and the negative voices start to shout (and they will), just pivot, stand in the light and loudly proclaim, "Not today, Satan!"
A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian, and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. A nationally known speaker and preacher, she is the author of four books, including her new devotional, "Grace-Filled Gratitude: A 40-Day Joy Journal" available on Amazon. Contact her through her email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.