I have a pastor who preaches like he’s talking to me over a cup of coffee—which is how I try to write, by the way.
This past Sunday he told a Cherokee story I had never heard—at least not that I recall.
It was a story just as fit for Native Americans in the 1800’s as it is for New Americans in this media-driven age.
There are several versions of the legend, I’ve discovered. But they all end with two hungry wolves.
A Cherokee boy was upset, and he took the problem to his grandfather.
“There’s a battle going on inside you,” the grandfather said.
“Two wolves are fighting. One is evil. He’s angry, selfish, and greedy. All he wants is to stir up trouble. The other is good. He’s kind, compassionate, and generous. What he wants most of all is peace.”
“Which wolf will win?” the boy asked.
“The one you feed.”
It’s hard not to feed the big, bad wolf.
I feed him every time I think about some people who’ve done me wrong—or worse, who’ve done something low-down and good-for-nothing to my wife or one of my kids.
In fact, I’m feeding the wolf right now as I think about someone I’d love to sucker punch into a mud hole.
Oh rats, now another person is coming to mind.
See what I mean?
In merely writing this blog post, I can feed the bad wolf.
I can feed him, too, when I turn on the radio or TV. Especially the news.
Some of those “news” channels really can howl.
They don’t howl to inform us.
They howl to stir us up.
The Cherokees should have made this a fox story.
Here’s an idea. It comes from the Apostle Paul. When we land on the wrong channel or when the face of the spawn of Satan pops into our head:
“Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things…. Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful” (Philippians 4:8, 4, NIRV).
Which raises a question I’m wondering at the moment.
What does feeding the good wolf look like to you?
Great post today, Steve! I have heard this story before, and it was quite fitting during Sunday’s sermon. I like how you pointed out that just writing about this topic fired your mind to start feeding the bad wolf, I can relate. My mind (read: ego), LOVES to get frenzied and furious over people who I interpret as having insulted ME. Personally, my problem is that “ME” and “EGO” are interchangeable and are far too easy to activate. Just this morning, I was thinking about someone who had insulted “ME” and in my mind, automatically, I began to defend the mental position I had identified with, and before you know it, I am having an imaginary argument with this person in my mind, predicting what they will say or do next, how I will handle it, how unfair it is, blah blah blah. But…when this happens to me now, I recognize it as my ego going on a rampage, and the only way I am able to stop feeding my ego wolf is to pray pray pray. Prayer does something supernatural…it takes “ME” out of the picture and puts Christ at the center, and I am able to once again develop a desire to serve, act with humility, and forgive. I am able to see beyond labels and names and forms and whatever stupid mental position “MY” mind is identifying with. I am able to recognize that if my greatest worry is dealing with a difficult person, then I truly have no worries, and I am able to become grateful, even for that difficult person, because they draw me closer to Christ and farther from “ME”. But…I have to do it constantly. A lot of bathroom prayers at work. A lot of prayers to and from work. Morning. Night. In addition to prayer, I also listen to inspiring music, mantras, gregorian chants and Buddhist chants. I google “poverty in India” and see pictures of mothers, fathers and children who have REAL worries and problems. Because my EGO wolf is hungry, and he will not completely vanish as long as I am in this body, in this world. Thank God for, well, God. I cannot do this on my own.
Stephen M. Miller
Thanks, Erin. I have those imaginary arguments, too. In my head, I win them all. But in my spirit, they beat me down. I need to work harder on walking away from those mind debates. I hope you have a wonderful week.
I thought this was a very good post today – I found the greatest way to deal with a wolf has been forgiveness. I went through a devastating trial for over six years after my Father’ s death – my health and spiritual life was being drained out of me by a close family member. I was so hopeless but I cried out to God daily – in fact, as the time went by my time with the Lord became more intimate and things started changing in me also. Most of my prayers have been answered, except one which I would covet everyone’s prayers.
Stephen M. Miller
Thanks Wayne. I’ll keep that request in my prayers.