This past year I found myself in a situation we’ve all had to deal with: My responsibilities at church forced me to spend a lot of time with someone with whom I rarely saw eye-to-eye.
Regardless of the topic, common ground eluded us. In fact, this person seemed determined not to like me. The nicer I was, the less kind she seemed to become.
After months of spinning my wheels, my frustration mounted. Eventually I threw in the towel. I stopped being nice. I even stopped going to church.
And when “turning the other cheek” didn’t work with this person, I stopped turning the other cheek in other situations. My unwillingness to confront my own feelings, my own “demons,” my own disappointment about the situation began to turn me into a kind of monster—quick to anger, slow to see others’ points of view.
When I look around me lately, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. This tense political season in America seems to be getting the best of many of us. Compassion seems to be lacking everywhere: in traffic, in line at the grocery store, especially on the evening news.
Oddly enough, though, Halloween brings me comfort.
Seeing all the monsters and goblins decorating people’s lawns, the billboards for haunted houses, reminds me how easy it can be to run from what scares me – to avoid the difficult, terrifying truths about myself, about others.
[bctt tweet=”…facing my demons–my ghosts–is not just transformative, but necessary.” username=”womenoftheelca”]
In his book The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction, Peter Rollins writes:
“There is a deep sense in which we are all ghost towns. We are all haunted by…those with whom we feel we have unfinished business … The problem, however, is that we tend to spend a great deal of energy in attempting to avoid the truth. We construct an image of ourselves that seeks to shield us from a confrontation with our ghosts.”
Ghosts, Rollins says, are all around us. We can choose to pretend they’re not there, but salvation only comes when we confront them, when we, as Jesus commanded, take the log out of our own eyes so that we may more clearly see the speck in our neighbor’s.
Halloween reminds me that facing my demons–my ghosts–is not just transformative, but necessary.