Monkey on my back; devil on my shoulder
In The Great Divorce, one character is portrayed as being kept from heaven by his own bitterness. A woman sent to him almost convinces him to release his petty pride, to forget the slights and arrows of life, so that he can embrace peace and redemption. But every time he almost allows himself to be won over by this woman, this begrudging, resentful voice always calls him back to the darkness.
Unfortunately, I find that I identify too much with this angry character. A spirit of criticism and pride linger around me like a cloud of pollution. God’s grace beckons me to be graceful, and sometimes my better angels win the day (and I trust that ultimately they will fully have the victory); but so often I find this darker, angry voice persuades me and coaxes me instead. I’m drawn into criticizing and attacking, biting and cutting. My life brings me face-to-face with this regularly. My job is practically to be critical and argumentative. My vanity suggests to me that this is an important part of who I am. Even blogging presents a constant temptation to air my grievances.
Encountering God is my only hope. Often in prayer, I have this imagery of my heart being like a tomb, full of darkness and the stench of death, and then God opens the door and lets the fresh wind of his Spirit and the cleansing light of His holiness purify the crypt. Meeting God also humbles me, because in His presence, I can see my critical nature is damnable filth at best, both compared to God’s immeasurably superior judgment as well as the grace by which He has made my own failures null and void, replacing them with his own tender righteousness.