A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘The one I feed the most.’ –George Benard Shaw
I’m just going to say it…I was a mischievous child. No, really, I was! Not mean or malicious…but I had ‘an ornery streak a mile wide’ as my mother put it.
I think it came to me honestly. No, it didn’t come from my mother or father, but from my Aunt Sue. Many the times my mother would get angry at me for being impish and call me Sue instead of Sonia. (Not that I minded that one bit!)
Let me give you an example. At bedtime, I would go to my mother and kiss her goodnight. Now, I’m sure at the beginning, I had every intention of merely kissing her on the cheek, but for some reason, one night, instead of kissing her…I licked her glasses.
Boy oh boy, did this make my mother mad! She would come up out of her chair and I would run, laughing all the way to bed. When she’d come into my room, I would try my best to straighten up and look as innocent and repentant as possible. I’d hold my arms out and beg for one more chance, but no, once a night was all she would tolerate. It didn’t matter how much I begged or pled temporary insanity (at this age, “the Devil made me do it” was probably the excuse of choice)…she wasn’t “born yesterday” as she loved to tell me. And so, I would go to bed, very indignant, with pretend “hurt feelings” because my mother didn’t trust me enough to let me kiss her goodnight.
Now before anyone starts feeling so bad for my mother let me assure you that I have been paid back twice fold. You see, there is such a thing as “the Mother’s curse.” In the words of Bill Cosby, “I hope when you grow up and get married that you have a child that acts exactly like you!”
Believe me…it works!
You know, even as a child, I knew what I was doing was wrong. It really did upset my mom when I did it. And even though I would have the best of intentions the next night, something would come over me and I couldn’t resist. Or…I wouldn’t resist.
Oh, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Do you remember in Romans 7:15, when Paul said “I do not understand what I do? For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Oh, I can so totally relate to that. I have such good intentions. But then why do I do the exact opposite? Why do I continue to struggle to control my thoughts, actions, deeds?
I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure Paul did either…except to say, “…when I want to do good, evil is right there with me…what a wretched man I am? Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Thankfully we have a God of forgiveness…of understanding. A God who knows we struggle constantly to do what if right and just. A God waiting for us to come to him and lay our struggles down…and just be…just be quiet and be in His presence. For the more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we will become.
I have to tell you…this year, while celebrating Christmas at my mother’s house, while Jim was taking the above picture of us, I had an overwhelming urge to lick her glasses again. I really did! You’ll be happy to know I was able to resist the urge…maybe there is hope for me yet!