By Sharon Carnahan

Talk Back

Hear us, O Spirits of Darkness
So you will know where we stand
We are his people, purchased with scars
Bought by the blood of the Lamb
The blood of the Lamb
 
From "People of God" by Wayne Watson
© 1982 Singspiration Music 
 
I overheard a tired parent in the grocery store the other day.  In answer to a persistent, whiny request for candy, repeated even after the parent patiently described the treat’s evil side, she finally said (in a voice that allowed for nothing further), "NO BACKTALK!"
 
Backtalk is precisely what I need today, and on many days, when my endless supply of self-doubt is inflated by the voices of my worst nature, repetitively chanting in a dull, keening monotone. 
You start things and don’t finish them...
A really caring mother wouldn’t yell like that...
All these years of work, and what do you have to show for it?...
You’ll fail. Again.  
There’s no one who really understands...
You are all alone...
You’ll never be an insider...
They like you now, but just wait!”
How do we talk back to the spirits of darkness? How do we call on the Spirit who loves us? What does “standing fast” look like when the voice of condemnation calls out to you in the dead of night with its shrill entreaty to give up?
 
Personified, tangible evil is a less recognized part of our culture today than in the Apostle Paul’s time, when he assured us that “...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 28-29).  
 
 
Paul understood the importance of backtalk — of not letting a lie stand unchallenged. 
 
That’s the first key:  recognize the lie and confront it immediately.  The God who loves me, who saved humankind, would not allow his child to be talked about in such a way.  Let the spirits of darkness know where you stand.
 
The second key is to know what to say when you talk back, or what to do if you have no words. Scripture helps, especially the Psalms.  So do songs, poetry, touching the back of a baby’s neck, an hour immersed in a familiar novel, or a cat, asleep in my lap.
 
Finally, the third key is to refuse to let your children, friends, co-workers or loved ones perpetuate the deceit:  to decline to entertain such nonsense, and avoid time with liars.
 
Remembering the truth about God’s love is an active, daily process.  Only when I know is love can I claim my birthright, shut down the spirits of darkness, and live in peace — well, if not peace, then with a blessed silence.
 
Talk back!
 
About the Author

Sharon Carnahan is Professor of Psychology and Cornell Professor of Service at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where she also directs a laboratory preschool.  A graduate of Hope College, UNC Chapel Hill, and the Proctor Insititute on Child Advocacy Ministry (Children's Defense Fund), Dr. Carnahan is a developmental psychologist who teaches child and adolescent development, child assessment and developmental screening, cross-cultural child psychology, and the psychology of religious experiences. She is a prevention scientist who studies the application of developmental principles to the problems of children and families. 

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