In an old house I used to live in, there were weeds that nestled right up to the walls. They wrapped around the house, seemingly seeking to hold it, when really they sought to strangle it. I have always thought of my failure this way, the darkness in me. Snuggled right up next to who I am, but unable to infect it.
Then one day we found a weed literally growing through the wall inside the house. The owners had added an extension onto the house, and it was more susceptible to the plants, and they were growing through it. In it. When I saw this plant I remember feeling a sort of nauseous feeling, like there was an animal burrowing under my skin, and I wondered as we talked to our landlord about the problem, how will they remove those vines without destroying the house?
There are sins that are so separate from identity that they are clear to see. Sins that you hate and can yank down easily without them threatening the house – the identity – in any way. And then there are some that are so intertwined they find there way inside of you and to remove them will take a deep surgery. It will take absolute precision. You cannot simply hack at them, not unless you want to destroy yourself in the process.
There are two things I have realized.
#1 Sin and love are not as seperate as we have been taught.
Darkness hides in the bright center of your goodness. It was rarely a lack of love for people that causes us to make terrible choices. It is a love that is too ultimate, too high. Love that does not need to be diminished but that needs to be overtaken by love for Another.
I learned the hard way what it feels like to find the real enemy that you think you barricaded out was actually born inside the walls and has been living in my heart for years. That the real enemy didn’t feel like evil intention, but wrapped himself up in the motives of love. That the real enemy is a security blanket – he is not the one who makes you afraid, but the one who makes you feel safe. That’s the one you have to be torn away from when you are ready to fight the real battles.
And that’s the pain of life. God some how tearing away the security blanket that was your friend; that you genuinely believed might have kept you feeling okay through all the chaos. Because – no matter how comfortable you are with it – it’s slowly tearing you apart.
If you want to find your darkest instincts, don’t look outside the house, look inside the walls of your love.
#2 The darkness is utterly sepearte from the love.
Darkness might have made it’s home in the deepest part of me – but we are utterly different substances. I am not the things I have done and nor am I the things that I think. Nor am I these feelings. I am so much more and so much less. I am this boiling center of heat and light born of dust once, and reborn through blood that is not mine and still being shaped and formed into who I will be – which is who I always was – the substance of me that has been set since before the foundation.
And tearing out the darkness at the cost of tearing out the light is the same mistake the pharisees made and is a more dangerous error than almost anything else you could do.
Beware: there is a way to eradicate the darkness, to make sure you never act out of fear, to make sure you never get angry, to make sure you never put your hands on someone else’s body: destroy love, tear down the house altogether. It is the fastest and easiest way to make sure that there is no place for darkness to dwell – destroy it all.
But the way of His children is not this way. He is in the business of destroying plants because He treasures houses, so tearing down houses – while it may be an efficient way to destroy plants – is missing the point entirely. The way of a believer is more painful, more slow, and sometimes it involves a darker story than you ever dreamed. Sometimes the plant has to become embarrassingly visible, before it is possible to pluck it out without destroying the incredible house that is you. Sometimes it has to grow along time til there is enough of it to get ahold of to be sure you can tear out the root.
But don’t be afraid.
We know a great surgeon who is perfect in precision and patient in His power. And He is a more obsessive homeowner than we could ever imagine. And He will always win.