There is a dark thing that hides at the fringes of my faith. I can feel it there. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting.

Waiting for the day that the diaper genie bag rips stinky wide open when I try to remove it last thing at night.

Waiting for the unkind word from someone I work with, church with, or raise children with.

Waiting for a 90 degree commute stuck in bumper-to-bumper gridlock in the car with no air conditioning.

Waiting for the blog that is prettier, bigger, or more beloved than mine to catch my attention.

Waiting for the mom that is more organized, more disciplined, more engaged than I am.

And in that moment I feel it slink out of the shadows and onto my shoulder. Gently it strokes my hair, caresses my neck, and begins to whisper in my ear.

It whispers, “Unfair. Poor you. You deserve more.”

It understands me. It pets me. It tells me, “You should be angry. It’s your right to feel frustrated. They don’t know how hard you have it.”

It offers me the opportunity to rant and sulk and feel justified in doing so. More often than I care to admit, I allow the dark thing to cover my mouth with a hard, hot hand and speak petty words on my mute behalf. It is never pretty.

But sometimes, sometimes I remember what a lie sounds like.

I recognize it by how it always puts me at the center of an equation and everyone else in the red. How it leaves out important elements and twists others to suit its own ends.

And on those occasions, I crane my neck around to address the creature squatting on my neck. It does not like that.

“Liar,” I say. “Cheat!”

“You are trying to sneaky sneaky snatch my peace, my contentment, and my patience away from me. But you cannot tug-of-war me away from my faith. And you do not speak for me.”

With each word I gain courage and volume. And with each word the thing deflates before my eyes until I can reach up with one hand and pull it off me.

Free.

And I do what we do with any parasite found at the end of a long day spent out in the sun – I crush it, burn it, flush it. And apply the appropriate ointment:

1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.

5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;

6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth—

Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43: 1-7.

The best way to identify a lie is to compare it to the truth.

And when I see my value through my Savior’s eyes, all other comparisons dissolve into irrelevance.

And the fringes of my faith grown stronger and better at keeping out the dark.

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