He is I And I am He

Even if you can’t say anything else about this series, you have to admit that How to Hug a Vampire is probably the most festive title that you’ve heard lately for a sermon series.

The first sermon in the series was very interesting. The first line in my notes from Sunday – which refer to the metaphorical vampires the series is about – says, “People who suck (the life out of you).” What makes it even more interesting is the next sentence reads, “This week, we’re talking about you.”

“Um, what?”

Pastor Alan went on to describe spiritual vampires as people who suck the life from you and make it all about them.

“I believe you said something about this being about me.”

He went on to characterize them:

  • Seek attention, reject affection
  • Never gratitude, lots of attitude
  • Demand rights, forsake responsibilities

“What was that part about me?”

They always complain. They’re one-uppers.

“But that’s not me!”

That’s what I thought too. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m far from perfect. But surely I don’t suck the life out of people. Surely I’m not that big of a drag to be around.

In truth, whether we realize it or not, we’re all someone’s vampire.

A little humbling to hear. Doesn’t really make you feel like a rainbow on the inside, does it? I don’t think most people set out to make others feel awful and to actually take life away from them. If you do, you have much more pressing issues than what you’ve read in this blog. But whether we intentionally suck the life out of other people or not, and whether we realize it or not, it remains that it still happens.

Romans 7:14-21 was the scripture that followed this bummer of a reality. The thing about this passage is that if you don’t read it carefully and/or read it from certain translations, it can be super confusing. So you can read the entirety of it from whichever version your heart desires if you so wish, but I’m going to type out what I believe to be the most important verses from the passage (for the purpose of this post) from my usual NRSV translation.

“I do not understand my own actions. For do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me… For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:15, 17, 19)

No matter how darling of a child of God someone may be, sin is still in their nature. Accepting Christ as our Savior does not change the fact that we’re human. Until we leave this world, we’re all just flesh and bones, filled with faults and loved by an astounding God.

If you’re interested in becoming less of a vampire and getting rid of some of the fanged creatures in your own life, there are three ways to do this. Set up boundaries, don’t always say, “Yes,” and hand things over to Jesus.

Setting up boundaries means that every individual only has access to the parts of your life that you allow them to. It seems like a pretty simple thing, but how often do we really do it? When I think of the problems that come up in my life because I said something to someone that I shouldn’t have or because I confided in someone when I shouldn’t have, it seems like I should’ve learned this lesson a long time ago.

Then we have to realize that it’s okay to turn people down from time to time. By saying, “Yes,” to everyone and every little thing, we take on a lot of responsibilities that aren’t truly ours. That adds up after a while. We begin to stretch really thin. What happens after that is that holes begin to appear and it becomes easy for things to fall through, and of course, people aren’t going to be too pumped up about the situation when it’s their issues that begin to slip out of our grasp. As Alan said Sunday, “A life full of yes leaves you with a lot of distress.”

It seems like we talk about handing things over to Jesus a lot. In fact, it may even sound pretty cliché. But the reason it’s so important is because it’s what we’re supposed to do, yet we seldom actually do it. We’re to take everything horrible that we do and put it on Christ.

“Well, that’s awful.”

What do you think He came here for? Jesus didn’t come to earth for a walk in the park. He came to be our Savior, and in doing so, accepted every responsibility and part of that role, including taking all of our terrible junk that we have inside of us. He gladly takes it all because He deeply loves us.

I encourage you to start looking at how you may be another person’s vampire. If you remain unaware of it, you’ll never be able to change it. After you see how you’re affecting these people, start implementing these steps. Consciously and actively be more considerate of the people in your life. The less life each of us sucks out of people, the more life and love there is to go around.

And don’t forget to be aware of the vampires in your own life. After all, it’s important that you feel alive and happy as well. God wouldn’t have it any other way. Don’t be afraid to set up boundaries with the life-suckers you can’t seem to ditch, don’t take on so much responsibility that it starts to stress you out, and hand everything over to Christ so that He, being the expert He is, can take care of it all for you. Yes, people do suck the life out of us, but only if we let them.

By Carrie Prevette

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