When it’s Good to be Stubborn like a Mule.

black and white animal pony not

Mules, the (usually) infertile offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, sometimes get a bad rap for their stubborn attitudes. The truth is not that black and white, though. A horse will try to impress or please its owner by carrying far more than it ought to be carrying, or outworking or outrunning itself (we just watched the movie Secretariat, and that was one of the concerns was that he (the horse-Secretariat) would actually injure himself racing if they just ‘let him run full speed’ without reigning him in. So while a horse runs the risk of hurting itself, if the owner or farmer isn’t careful–when a donkey or a mule reaches its limit–it stops. A farmer, therefore, doesn’t need to be as cautious about overloading or overworking a mule or donkey. They know their limits and when those limits are reached–they stop working. Mules are also far more willing to fight off predators like coyotes, rather than fleeing or rearing up in fear.

It could be said that Mules and Donkeys have really good boundaries and sense of self. The key to setting any good boundary is just that: you have to first know your own limits. An impossible task if you are bent on people pleasing and making whoever owns you happy. And make no mistake, if you are a people pleaser (something I am intimately familiar with being myself!!)–you are owned by someone–that someone being whoever you are trying to impress or keep happy. Doing that will come at  your own expense.

For a Christian this poses a real dilemma. I want to be owned by Jesus. I am HIS servant and no one else’s. But if my actions are consistently horse like; meaning I am ever willing to impress others, even if it injures myself, how can I say that I belong to Him?

As I was pondering this, I thought of the fact that Jesus rode a donkey — not a horse, on Palm Sunday. The donkey wouldn’t have agreed to that if he wasn’t up to the task. A horse, on the other hand, may have been exhausted but he would have given the ride anyway. I don’t believe Jesus wants us to serve Him or anyone else; if we aren’t truly up to the task. He desires that we get to a place of health where we can handle burdens again–before we try carrying them.

I also thought of the story of Balaam and his donkey, the donkey saw the angel of death and refused to move any further which kept Balaam from meeting the angel of death. Does it mean something that the only animal to ever be recording ‘talking’ is a donkey, an animal that will absolutely refused to be pushed beyond its own ability-to-bear-it-limits?

My conclusion is that boundaries are really, really important. Especially if you are a service animal (as Mules and Donkeys are known world wide to be). Especially if you are a servant of Jesus. Having people destroy my boundaries in childhood destroyed my ability to serve God and others without it costing me greatly.

As I learned how to be more like a Mule myself, it involved some hard choices. My horse-like brain wants to people please and make it all better again (at my own expense). It seems I still struggle knowing my value. Mules and Donkeys know their value; horses not so much. So as I made this transition to what some might call ‘stubbornness’, I’ve been called mean, crazy, rigid, unyielding, and even unforgiving. It’s ok. Balaam beat his donkey for its refusal to lead itself, and him, into death. I can expect similar treatment when I start to assert myself with people who once held my reigns.

 

The Evil Inside

(Trigger warning: the following prose touches on suicide)

I am looking the demon in the eye

The one that lives inside my mind

The satanic child, which evil parents,

And evil parents before them, birthed.

The one who thinks it is ok

to behave in terms of me, me, me.

Though I tried to deny it,

Did not want to believe that me

and ‘they’

were one and the same:

There is a reason I cannot go inside small closets

Or airplane lavatories

Or basements

And why I freak out when a dress is too tight on my chest

or the sweater too itchy.

I know why I avoid certain stores at certain hours

And shop online a lot–

For fear of being suffocated, bound up, or caught unaware

In ancient burial clothes in a modern casket.

It is because the evil which was birthed inside of me is suffocating, and killing,

my God given self.

I’m being wrapped in a life-taking shroud

bit by bit

And I know it. Yet I still wanted to deny it.

So I blamed small spaces and past childhood abuses

for all my phobias and excessive needs

And I gave away my scratchy sweaters and too small dresses.

But that wasn’t enough,

To be fully delivered from evil.

I see that I must cut myself off from more than just

‘they’ and ‘them’.

“Be ye separate”

“Do not be unequally yoked”

“What does darkness have to do with light?”

means many things external: sure

For me it means I also must reach inside my heart and soul

My mind

My spirit

and sever a big part of me as well.

I need more than a boundary wall with gates that let the good in and keep the bad out.

I need more than just books on the shelf like ‘not being codependent anymore’

I need an internal exorcism

Of my very self.

 

Which is why I am looking the demon in the eye.

They say it all begins with identification

Admitting there is something bad, no: someone bad, that lives inside my heart.

She is the very same one who denied there was anything evil in there.

She tells me it’s all good, and warm, and empathy

And compassion.

Truth. Not lies.

Lies are the hallmark of evil

And we don’t do any of that deceptive stuff in here

(insisted the demon– from her bedroom in my heart)

She learned in therapy, alongside the righteous parts of me,

That I have rights and boundaries

Needs and feelings that are allowed to be expressed

(Except when it’s not really helpful. Except when doing so is outright mean).

And…Except when the seared child rises up and asserts her satanic birthright.

 

“Your parents are evil and so am I. You inherited me. And now I am your birthright too, to be passed on to others. You can’t live without me. You and I—we are ONE and the same! If I go, you go as well!” She is screaming.

But back when I couldn’t look the demon in the eye, couldn’t quite name what was still wrong,

This is what she said, instead

“I deserve. I deserve. I deserve.” (In a wounded baby voice)

Reminding me of all she’s been through in life.

A hard life. A cold life. Void of love.

Abused in every way.

 

I tried talking sweet to her.

As the therapists all suggested, I wanted to let her grow up, alongside my battered little girl.

But there is no fixing her. There is no pacifying her. She shifts shape and morphs and reacts no matter what I feed her. The trick is to starve her completely.

She deserves the lake of fire, now.

Because she is no innocent child. And my battered little girl, whom she tortured the worst, did eventually mature. She has grown up. She gets it. But even she is tricked now and then by the witch in my own womb.

The symbiotic barnacle on my soul is full of control and contempt

She has abused others, too, in every way. Beloved others. Others who I never would have harmed had she not dwelt inside of me, becoming more and more a part of me.

Father Yah it is time now, to reach in. With the sword of Truth, Your Word, and Your Spirit.

You have been coming to me in dreams and visions

Telling me it is time to surrender. Jesus’ cross looms overhead in these dreams

Urging me to trust it.

I almost gave in the other morning.

I stopped yielding because something told me it wasn’t time yet

That you were merely preparing me for some awakening soon to come.

Today I had the awakening.

I saw the demon inside;

Except I am not sure where the demon stops, and I begin

Because it’s been there so long that the demon is now just a part of me.

And I was horrified.

At first.

Saddened.

At first.

Depressed to the point of just wanting to die.

At first.

And then I got comfortable enough to look at her.

She’s ugly.

I want to cut her out like the deformed growth that she is.

Is this why they were talking about the popularity of Dr. Pimple popper on Christian radio yesterday? And I couldn’t stop listening, turning up the volume and sensing something in my spirit needed to hear it?

“A majority of us get a satisfaction from watching things come out of our bodies that don’t belong there.” The host said with a giggle, as his co-host said ‘eww’ for the hundredth time.

He added that others ‘are completely grossed out by it.’

Indeed. I love popping pimples.

And now I want to watch my own exorcism.

The giant zit has formed a white head, visible to all, and finally: visible to me.

It stares back in the mirror and begs to be pressed in on

Puss and blood will gush out in sweet release

when the witch finally dies

 

Ah, yes, and those recent dreams and visions You have given me

They give me hope

Jesus is calling me forward to the cross

even in this

So long as I move toward Him, so He can put the demon, put me, to death.

He is the doctor who will lance the cursed disease

And rise up in me a new spirit, a new creation

Revealing what He intended for me, to be, all along

He, and I, together, will be like Jael with her tent peg and hammer

Her hand steady enough

to get rid of evil, popped eardrum to popped eardrum, while it slept

on her own lap,

in her own tent,

her own husband colluding with an evil kingdom,

its wicked and powerful soldier-king assuming that she was cut of the same cloth as her husband, thereby trusting in her offer

only to be surprised at his own demise

by a mere woman

 

Ah, Jael, that most blessed of all women in the Old Testament

Who grew up in the midst of evil,

Married into evil

Watched evil get passed again and again

to the next generation

yet she rid her tent of evil just the same.

Can that really be me, as well?
Father, I pray it be so.

Perhaps God reached down to steady her hand

Perhaps He will do the same for me

Because this demon inside is too big for me to kill alone.

I cannot give up the ghost, without Your help. Without first surrendering

Admitting my own powerlessness against the generational curse

The lineage of evil

That was my birthright

 

I can’t return to the womb and go back to the breast, fixing my Oedipal complex myself

Because it is just as the proverb suggests:

The parents eat sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.

The cards were dealt. It was out of my control.

But this inner demon is no innocent child, no mere product of her upbringing. Like the manipulative cretin she is–now that I am on to her, and the mess she has made of my life, she whispers, ‘Have it over with. People with your ACE score are high risk for suicide.’

She is an ancient ghoul, Eden’s blight, bent on the destruction of anything beautiful that remains in me,

and in my family’s lineage.

Like teeth set so on edge that they tense the jaw and wrinkle an already-stressed face

Father Yah said, centuries ago, “NO MORE shall this proverb be a saying in Israel!”

The soul that sins, is the soul that dies.

The children will not be held accountable

For the sins of the father.

Generational curses only exist; so long as we let them.

So long as we oblige, collude with, or ignore, the evil inside our own bodily tent.

 

No more!

I will watch you be removed. I am not too squirmy for such things.

But no demon on earth, or hell below, is going to convince me that my own death is better than my God given lot in life. God is too good a Father for me to believe that lie.

 

Put the demon in me to death now,

please dear Jesus, put her to death.

I surrender all.

Father, deliver me from evil.

Deliver me – from…me.