There is a monster waiting to devour us.
This stealthy Beast masquerades as a gentle giant, begging you to cuddle up with him. He is green with envy, yellow with fear, and red with comparison. Shiny jewels cover his torso, easily hiding an interior of rotting flesh and pending destruction. There are many captive to his whims.
Our culture has befriended this Beast. It has dressed him up to make him look acceptable. It says, “If you want a good life, focus on the Beast. Spend your time, spend your money on the Beast. Accessorize, pamper, and travel with the Beast. When you have met the needs of the Beast, he will release you to meet the needs of others.” And so we do. And our eyes become more distant, and un-fulfillment fills our hearts. And we think, “Maybe I just need MORE time with the Beast. Maybe the people around me don’t allow me enough time with the Beast. Maybe I need different friends, different kids, different spouses who will appreciate the Beast.” So some leave to find a new environment that would better suit the Beast, but the Beast is never satisfied.
And the story goes on. It repeats itself over, and over, and over again.
Then one day, we hear the truth. And the next morning, we stumble to the bathroom mirror, and see the Beast staring us in the face. Shocked, we cower back, not daring to look it in the eye, to see it for what it truly is. But it is too late. The dragon is exposed, and the lies he told us, the goods he sold us, are revealed in the light.
The Beast is self. And the only way to kill the Beast is to lay it down, over and over again.
We will never see the beauty of the image of God reflecting through that mirror – others will never see that, until the scales fall off through self-sacrifice. And this motherhood thing? – there is no other environment I know of that makes me face the Beast head-on more than motherhood.
I lay the Beast down each moment I respond with gentleness when I feel injured, with kindness when someone is cruel. I lay it down when I am patient with a toddler and when I gently listen to a hormonal preteen cry – or laugh – or get mad – for reasons even she doesn’t know. When I give more of me than I thought I had to give, and lean into the love of Christ to see me through, the beast dies a little more. And that death gives way to new life.