Haunted By the Old Lady

By on July 1, 2011

By Karen Lembo –

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)

The other day, I was startled to realize I’ve been haunted by an old lady for years now. She sits on the side of my bed while I sleep and complains when I have to get up. She hates exercise. As I start my day, she follows me around with a running commentary: “Look at those dishes still in the sink. Didn’t your husband say he was going to do those? And look at the stuff strewn around the family room. Can’t anyone pick up after themselves? No, apparently you are the only one who knows how to pick things up.” Other times she starts picking on my choices: “Why do you stay home? Other people are out there working and look at you. You’re never going to amount to anything. Do you think you’re going to succeed at this? You’re crazy, you know?” Late at night she starts demanding unhealthy food. She has an insatiable appetite: “Give me something sweet. No, that wasn’t enough. I want something salty now…”

This old lady drains my energy and my patience. When my children or my husband need me, I feel exhausted and resentful. I don’t want to be this way. I want to love freely, but find I have nothing to give. Who is this old lady and why is she haunting me?

Well, I just began to realize she is my old self, back from the dead, and she keeps rattling her chains, trying to keep me a slave to her demands. For the most part she is successful because I don’t realize she is there. We are so closely connected that I don’t realize her influence. Before you call a psychiatrist to report my multiple personality disorder, read this:

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires…For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:6-7, 11-12, 14)

I don’t have to obey this old lady. I need to send her back to the grave. The one I need to obey is the Spirit of God:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)

I have seen the enemy and she is me. But I’m onto her. It’s time to obey my new Master and send the old lady packing. But how do I do that when my old habits are so persistent?

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) The sin nature will persistently tempt me to react selfishly every time I face an uncomfortable circumstance. I must retrain myself to avoid “knee jerk” reactions, take a breath, and obey my new Master. This requires rigorous training because the “old lady” doesn’t give up easily!

The “old lady” has terrible habits and when I listen to her, all I reap are negative consequences. “What benefit did you reap…from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21) Instead, when I deliberately obey my Master, “the benefit [I] reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22b)

Perhaps you’ve been bossed around by your own “old lady” lately. Try this experiment with me today: when you feel the urge to blow up, have a pity party, complain, or gossip, take a breath and pray, “Holy Spirit, please help me say ‘no’ to the ‘old lady’ and my sinful inclinations and ‘yes’ to your guidance. I recommit myself to obeying you. Please give me the strength to do what is right. Amen.

Karen Lembo is a writer and artist currently residing in Salisbury, MD with her husband Art, and their three children, Emily, Arthur, and Katie. She has extensive experience as a Bible study and small group leader, children’s minister, and Moms in Touch prayer group leader. Karen’s blog, “Living Above the Laundry Pile”, and her artwork can be accessed at www.karenlembo.com.

Karen Lembo

About Karen Lembo

Karen Lembo is a writer and artist currently residing in Salisbury, MD with her husband Art, and their three children, Emily, Arthur, and Katie. She has extensive experience as a Bible study and small group leader, children’s minister, and Moms in Touch prayer group leader. Karen’s blog, “Living Above the Laundry Pile”, and her artwork can be accessed at www.karenlembo.com.

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Haunted By the Old Lady