all of the selves we Have ever been
“The devil made me do it.”
That was a line made famous by the comedian Flip Wilson.
Another of Wilson’s personas was the Reverend Leroy of the Church of What’s Happening Now.
When Reverend Leroy got to preachin’, it “wasn’t about how it used to be or how it’s gonna be in the future,” it was about NOW.
So here’s what’s happening now. It is early March. As we prepare to spring ahead into daylight savings time, another fresh beginning, we become painfully aware of all of those resolutions we made on January 1st, all those behaviors we meant to change, do, or give up.
My mother, like all parents, had a handful of often repeated expressions. Of course, there was the universal classic, “I hope you have ten children just like you!” But the one that is most memorable and frequently rings in my ears to this day is “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
As a child this warning was conveyed to me at times when I whined, “But I didn’t mean to…” Perhaps I left the lid off a jar and the contents dried out, or I let the pot on the stove boil dry while I talked to a friend on the phone. Sometimes I was guilty of “meaning to,” like I meant to empty the dishwasher before dinner, but I forgot. Each time my mother would invoke the warning of eternal damnation. With so many youthful transgressions, I was surely parked outside the gates of hell by the time I was ten. No wonder adult life is so hard!
Do any of us really intend to wreck our health or our finances? Let our homes and personal spaces deteriorate? Let down the people we love? The devil makes us do it; he gets us with a fatal dose of false optimism. The devil doesn’t hold out an apple. Heck, that could lead to healthy eating habits. No, the devil holds out the promise of LATER. We’ll get started tomorrow. Next year, we’ll take that trip or enroll in those classes.
I am convinced that the devil’s day job is in marketing. He fills our heads with fancy advertising and new products. The devil convinces us that the road to our personal salvation is merely a matter of the right equipment. If I just had the right baskets, I could really get this place cleaned up and organized. My own treadmill would resolve the exercise deficit in my life. So we schedule future dates, and we buy stuff. All the while, the devil is licking his chops.
The NOW is filled with a lot of repetition and drudgery. “Just do it” says the fancy advertising. If only I had the right shoes, maybe I could…
If my mother was right, the line into heaven will be fast moving. Those will be the folks who acted on all of their good intentions. Per her predictions, I’ll be in the longer, slower-moving line waiting patiently as each soul ahead of me explains all of the things they meant to do…
I did get away with one thing though…I did not have ten children just like me. But, then again, I did not