“The secret side of me//I never let you see// I keep it caged// But I can’t control it
So stay away from me//The beast is ugly//I feel the rage//And I just can’t hold it”
…From the song, Monster by Skillet
I’m afraid of the dark because darkness is where evil finds its power. Perhaps the darkest reality is found in knowing that monsters don’t hide under your bed; rather, they live inside of you.
I’ve exposed a little bit about myself over the past number of months with sharing what’s on my mind and what’s in my heart. Today is no different. Today I share another layer. The difference is today I expose a darker side of who I am.
I have a monster living inside of me. He’s angry, confused and filled with hate.
I really sort of “discovered” the monster when I was in the Air Force and life just took a turn for the worse. It was the first time in my life I was removed from friends and family. My support structure was gone; I was working all the time and I wasn’t popular on my flight. Now, I had done anything wrong but I wasn’t considered to be a “standout troop” like some of the others.
I remember contacting my pastor back home and discussing some of the struggles I was facing. He of course informed me it was a “spiritual attack.” I thought that was the lamest and poorest excuse one could fabricate. I mean, I wasn’t a stellar Christian, I wasn’t attending a local church because I worked almost every Sunday and I wasn’t sharing my faith. I always felt that spiritual attacks came both while you were sharing your faith and making Jesus known or immediately after obedience to that. I was neither one of those; I was hiding my faith inside.
I started out with just a lot of confusion asking God “Why is this happening?” I couldn’t handle this on my own. Confusion turned to loneliness, loneliness turned to emptiness and emptiness turned into despair. I finally reached the place where I believed I had been forsaken. The one thing God said he would never do, he did.
Alone, broken, confused I became angry. I turned from the way I lived-which was only listening to music that was considered “Christian” and I stopped reading anything that had to do with God. I stopped pretending to be a Christian really.
I got angry and kept it to myself a lot of times. I would live in internal agony, hating everyone and everything around me. Those who became my friends discovered my monster because I would become angry with them and yell at them. Even if my friends were being nice to me, the slightest gesture could awaken the monster in me and all hell broke loose.
Nothing I did and nothing I said ever made anything better. I found moments in the day to get me through. I had few moments that helped me and they were few and far between. Happiness was an illusion. Emptiness was my new reality and I had one choice-cope.
It sucks being depressed but became a way of life for me. Even after I left the military the sadness deepened and lingered and I continued to drown inside. For so long I did everything I could to put on a happy face and smile as if everything was okay. I knew the truth that nothing was okay.
Then thoughts of suicide were born.
Ending it all seemed to be the only way out. Ending my life was the only escape from the hellish nightmare that I lived. I remember going through almost a week straight of lying awake in bed at night, wishing I could sleep but only thoughts of ending my life were so loud I couldn’t even shut my eyes.
Then, I did something I hadn’t done in years. I did something I thought I never would do again, I prayed. I didn’t want God to take the rage inside of me. I didn’t ask God to remove the sadness that was my reality. No, no, no-I simply asked God to let me fall asleep one night. That’s all I wanted. I prayed a simple prayer to a God I didn’t know if I believed in anymore, I closed my eyes and I fell asleep.
I fell asleep.
I fell asleep!
I fell asleep-something so simple and it was something I hadn’t been able to do for some time. I fell asleep and slept through the night. There were no thoughts of suicide, no amount of sadness kept me awake. I just closed my eyes and slept. I wish the story ended there but it didn’t.
I continued to live with the monster of depression for years. The monster slowly faded away.
“A hero’s not afraid to give his life// A hero’s gonna save me just in time// I’ve got a hero living in me.”
…From the song, Hero by Skillet
One of my favorite “hero” movies is The Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale as Batman. In this movie, Batman has to face off against Cat woman (who betrays him) into the hands of Bane, a ruthless mercenary who has one goal-to destroy Gotham City. Bane breaks Batman’s spine and exiles him to an underground prison where escaping is nearly impossible.
The Dark Knight rises though, as he heals from his back injury and escapes the prison and returns to Gotham City for one final showdown with Bane. In order to save the city from a bomb though, Batman has to give Gotham City one final offering, his very life. Batman has to die so others might live.
So it is with the hero inside of me. He had to die so I could live. It’s kind of crazy to think that ANYONE would want to die for me, knowing how much I have screwed up this thing called life. I’ve made such a mess of things that I sure wouldn’t spend my time saving myself. I would’ve considered myself a lost cause and moved on. Not the hero though, he believed I was worth dying for, he believed I was worth reaching out to, he believed I was worth saving.
He had to die though. He had to die so he could rise again on the third day and give me a new nature. He made a new creation and he gave me a new heart. The hero in me wants me to live my best life now; he wants me to prosper because he believes in me. The hero in me wants me to experience true life and only in my pursuit of knowing the hero will I be a hero myself.
So, what I find in my life is this: monsters and heroes battle inside my mind. It is a war between who I was and who I am being transformed into. Over the past week, the monster has reared its ugly head. Sadness and darkness have enveloped over me. Sometimes I have to admit that the monster wins. Other times, the hero comes out on top. In the moments and days when the monster wins, I believe in lies. Lies such as I am not accepted, I’m not worthy of doing anything, I’m not doing anything, I’m not going anywhere and I’ll never get anywhere. I’m stuck where I am at and tied down and noting will ever change and I should accept my place in life as a loser.
When the monster wins I allow negativity to rule over my life and it shines in the way I treat others. Sometimes I feed the monster and live out the lies it breathes inside of me. Other times though, the hero shines. Sometimes, I am just crazy enough to listen to the voice of love and find that I am loved and I am accepted and I have overcome many battles in my life. Sometimes, I realize I am becoming a hero in my own life.
Some days I know I am important and the little things I am doing, while they don’t seem like they have much impact, do have some impact and that’s important too. Some days I know I am simply a child of the hero inside.
In the end, the hero died and is alive. The monster is dying and one day will die. I will know the day because I will see the hero in front of me. I will see the hero that he is making out of me.