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Forty years later, sitting in my computer chair, reliving this painful ordeal, my face flamed and I wanted to crawl beneath my desk. In retrospect, as a mother myself, I realized that Mama hadn’t meant to hurt me, just jolt me into listening to an admonition I’d ignored a hundred times. She was trying to mold me into a human being instead of a gorilla. My head understood. But my heart still felt that gut-searing shame like the embarrassing episode had just happened.
The long-repressed memory seemed to roll up the shades in my brain and beam light into a corner that’s been dark most of my life. All of a sudden the angels sang that full-bodied, eight-note “Ahhhh” chord that means something important just happened.
What an epiphany! I finally got it! I’ve never been able to explain why I continue to wear, year after unfashionable year, those “embarrassing” hats that my kids used to beg me to hide when their friends were around. Why I just have to buy every perky bonnet I see. Why I once chose to leave a basketball game rather than remove my hat when informed that headgear was not allowed in the gym.
My hat fetish was really those nasty vultures all along—those despicable spirit-eaters hovering over my shoulder, threatening further humiliation, and doing their durndest to build a nest in my hair.
So how am I to rid myself of these fear marauders whose circling shadows make embarrassment feel inevitable?
My clue to how to defeat the spiritual vultures came from the real vultures infesting my neighbor’s property. As I crossed the lawn to get a closer look at their rooftop hangout, the hideous creatures first stared me down and spread their wings to threaten me. When I stood my ground, they flew away. My presence frightened them. Vultures aren’t intimidated by lifeless carrion, but pit them against a vibrant life force and they’re overwhelmed. Outclassed. Outta here.
Then it occurred to me: That’s it! That’s how we get rid of our spiritual vultures, too—we seek help from the biggest, most powerful life force there is. Those unseen carnivores bringing us down can’t remain in His presence. They’re totally intimidated. . . overwhelmed. . .outclassed. They’re outta here.
“The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT). at, dear sister, is the difference between an unholy spirit and the Holy Spirit. One has a BB gun and the other has an AK-47. And the Enforcer is on our side.
Spiritual warfare in a nutshell.
I have a feeling your next question is, “So, Deb, are you still wearing hats?” The answer is yes, but not out of compulsion anymore. When I don the plucky Princess Kate number I bought in England (my, oh my, don’t those Brits do hats right!), I hold my head high, smile with confidence, and never glance over my shoulder for hungry, winged predators.
Because I know who has my back. And He’s packing some heat.
So. . . are there any vultures lurking around your roof? I know a great Exterminator.
This is an excerpt from Debora Coty's latest book, Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate: Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life's Worries (Barbour Publishing). Coty is the author of 10 books, newspaper columnist, orthopedic occupational therapist and tennis addict. Follow Debora on Twitter @deboracoty.
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