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  • Writer's pictureEllen Romer Niemiec

Quiet! Come Out!

Not sleeping well is a habit in my family. Most of us have the gift of trying to fall asleep and instead doing inventory after mental inventory. Sometimes these inventories are innocuous and sometimes they take me down deep rabbit holes that become less rational as night wears on. Work, family, children, friends, grocery lists, budgets, something I said in a meeting, etc. Pick a topic and I’ve dug through it in detail while I should be falling asleep. It can get so loud in my mind. How can one sleep when it’s so loud? How can one think clearly?

Quiet! Come out!

I haven’t ever thought of the things that plague my mind as being ‘unclean spirits’ but the more I sit with it the more it feels real. In my moments of deepest self struggle, of negative self-talk, of serious mental health challenges, I have to be actively reminded that those thoughts and those voices within me aren’t simply not my own but they are not of God. They are not loving toward myself or any other person. They do not bring out the best in me and do not drive me toward the fullness God wants for me.

Quiet! Come out!

It’s easy enough to relegate the idea of an unclean spirit to biblical stories or films and television. That would also be a dishonest assessment of the feelings I have felt well and grow within me, toward myself and others. These feelings, these unclean spirits, often don’t amount to much and are not seen explicitly by anyone but my (thankfully) loving and patient spouse. But they sneak in. They close doors in my mind, turning the lock a bit tighter as I lean into harsh judgment. Nudging me closer to walking away and refusing to hear someone out instead of listening more intently. They chip away at my capacity for charity and patience. When that doesn’t land squarely on friends, coworkers, or strangers on social media, it may leak out onto my children and family.

Quiet! Come out!

I crave these words. I want to be free of what plagues my heart, mind and soul and pulls me deeper into darkness and further from God and God’s people. My moments of unkindness, anger and wrath feel so deliciously tempting in the moment and easy to give in to. And it’s in that hangover moment after when I feel unclean and unkind. And there are plenty of times when I am being called by someone to be better that I lash out as did the man in the gospel. I have to work on expelling my own unclean spirits. I have to work on letting go of what grips me and causes me to reject God instead of inviting God closer. I am grateful for the people in my life who help me hear God’s voice inviting me to expel the dark thoughts and ask for forgiveness.

Quiet. Come out.

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