MY PROBLEM WITH ANGELS
Whenever someone tells me that
some force intervened in their life to change things for the better
I think I understand completely.
I remember times in my own life,
and many times in other people’s lives,
when a sudden change seemed to come out of nowhere to make all the difference.
But I can’t understand why people prefer to think of such things
as coming from outside of themselves instead of from within.
WHY DON’T THEY CALL IT ‘ME’?
Something guides me and protects me and loves me.
Something will always care about me and about everyone I love.
I call this something “me,”
and I find it deep inside,
and I know I can count on it to be there.
Whether you think of this force as yourself or as an angel,
please know that you own it – and nourish it – and decide what it does.
Know you can count on your own “angel.”
Think about the last time you saw a newborn.
Remember the special joy you felt
to be in its presence,
to experience the miracle of new life,
and to recall for just a few seconds what it once felt like to be an infant.
Can you possibly imagine that this child is evil?
Can you possibly imagine that this child was “born bad”?
Did you see even some tiny sign of evil in that infant’s face?
Of course not.
Many people who believe in angels
also believe that we were all “born bad.”
That’s why they just can’t comprehend
how mere humans can do wonderful things.
That’s why they need to believe
that angels must to intervene
to rescue us from ourselves.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH PSYCHOLOGY?
This isn’t just some philosophical issue.
Whether we believe in our own inherent evil
goes to the heart of every psychological problem.
Whatever we feel bad about
– whether we are anxious, or depressed,
or addicted, or we keep having bad relationships –
we all need to feel hopeful
to summon the energy it takes
to work on our changes.
If you believe human nature is evil,
you can easily feel hopeless.
If you believe human nature is good or even neutral,
you can much more easily feel hopeful.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH RELIGION?
Since I was raised in the Christian tradition,
I will be using Christianity as a starting point here…
Christians who feel hopeless about this life tend to believe we are born bad
and spend our lives struggling against temptation
to try to earn our way into heaven.
Their God continually tests them and is always ready to punish.
Christians who feel hopeful about this life tend to believe
we are born good (or at least “neutral”)
and we spend our lives absorbing and spreading His love.
Their God continually loves them and is always ready to accept them.
Fortunately, there is plenty of room in Christianity
for both the hopeless people and the hopeful people.
Every large religion makes room
for those who feel hopeful and those who don’t.
Regardless of which religion we choose,
and whether we choose any religion at all,
we all make our own choices about these three
central, life-sustaining questions:
Are we born bad, good, or neither?
Does goodness come from within or without?
Is our life hopeful or hopeless?
WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME?
It’s just a few weeks before Christmas as I write this.
That’s why I’m thinking about hope and despair, angels and infants.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOU?
Whether your think your goodness comes from within you or from the heavens,
and whether you think you were born bad, good, or neither,
what you believe about these things will play a huge role in the outcome of your journey.
Adults decide their own beliefs.
They aren’t necessarily stuck with the beliefs of their parents.
Take responsibility for your beliefs
and for whether you choose to keep or change each one.