It's like a swirling, thick, morphing smoke monster . . . which you keep alive by looking into it, fiddling with it, re-animating it. Expectations . . . are doom. It's just a slight step away, so close, to be in another world, another reality, in the spirit. Oh, the effort . . . the struggle . . . the burden . . . maintaining hold on the old self with all its issues, hurts resentments, expectations . . . as it seeks to control others' . . . get their favor . . . wanting recognition but not getting it the way it thinks it ought . . . .
And then there is the mighty secret . . . to just drop it. Give up. Let it go. Turn away and turn to God, to Jesus instead. Such a simple, blunt move. No finessing, no wrangling with the details (where the devil lies) . . . . It is just a hair's breadth away, yet it is a world away--another dimension, so that, while you literally leave one world behind and move to another, it is not so far that you still don't see others, care for others, maintain your basic personality and God-given proclivities . . . . What you are, you are . . . and that remains. But all the smoke you create by trying to change others . . . wanting others to appreciate you--what you do and have done for them . . . but they don't . . . and it hurts . . . . You just step away from it--turn the other direction and look at Jesus. No need to figure out all the doctrine and looming questions at that point.
Simply, when the temptation comes to delve mentally into all the concerns, attachments, wishes . . . of the smoke monster . . . simply drop it and look at Jesus. Just look at Him. Grab hold and nestle into His comforting embrace, needing to say nothing more. He knows all . . . . HE will work the rest out . . . .
A great and liberating freedom is found . . . when . . . you face the reality . . . that all of the stories you have made in your head . . . about how life is, how it should be (for you) . . . what others have done or not done to you . . . for you . . . that you think they ought . . . . And then you realize that all of the noise, all of the wrangling and fretting and attempts to rectify . . . are like a moving, billowing smoke in your being. Smoke, but no fire, no light. And you can just walk away from it--step out, let go, stop holding to it. YOU are the one animating the anxiety, the worry and care . . . keeping the old self animated where it then pulls you down, covers you in darkness, bringing negative emotions like envy, jealousy, resentment, fear, competitiveness, needy for attention . . . for it is the attention you give it that keeps it "alive" and oppressing you.
But . . . oh blessed day . . . that you finally recognize and face . . . that it's all in your head. A bunch of smoke, taking shapes . . . and that . . . nobody cares. No one--no fellow creature is ever going to appreciate what you think you deserve or need or should be recognized for. They are too busy with their own smoke monsters. Everyone is selfishly working to take care of their own stories--crafting them, portraying them to others . . . . When one of these happens to do something nice or appreciative for you, it is most likely because it fit in with their own agenda. It happened to help you . . . but really, they will instantly be back to their own business, regardless of the selfless and sacrificial claims they try to portray and claim.
You are . . . alone . . . with God. Though we spend our whole lives loving and serving and even worshiping God's creatures . . . you must realize that all such time spent and effort made . . . is nothing. Our whole purpose for being . . . which we have forgotten . . . or never have yet realized . . . is to be looking at, loving and being in direct relationship with God!
So many distractions and temptations and allurements take us away from this, however. And we try to convince ourselves that while we are loving and serving and glorifying other creatures, we are actually doing so for God.
But no. This is a lie. Smoke and mirrors. This is the smoke monster keeping you confused and mislead. All you are doing is wrangling with the smoke . . . with the rising dead smoke of the old, fallen, buried self.
Instead, when we drop that old thing . . . and turn only and forcefully and determinedly to God FIRST and ABOVE ALL . . . THEN . . . we are actually in a state of being where God works through us, using us . . . then to help, love and serve others.
But until that drastic shift is made . . . despite how we cloak it . . . we are still just self seeking, puffing and dressing up the monster.
The monster--the dead self--is to be deprived. And when you keep staying on task, by instantly and continuously turning away from it, TO GOD, TO JESUS/YESHUAH SPECIFICALLY, then you stop giving the old creature life. You stop feeding it. And right quickly, its edges begin to yellow . . . go brittle and dry . . . and wither away. As you keep going . . . more and more of it . . . dies away . . . and drifts and blows away . . . like a lifeless charcoal statue . . . which once had form--had your shape and form--but now chunks are breaking off . . . disintegrating . . . crumbling, desiccated . . . and falling away into dust in the wind.
Meanwhile, you are over here--alive . . . God breathing through you, showing you holy things, and you are above the fray . . . like the fragrant lily hovering above the muck of the pond . . . .
You do things as you have done before . . . but expectations for return and gratification are gone. No expectations, but guilelessly doing, acting, working, loving, serving . . . with no thought for recognition and compensation. Now it is just what you do, because the Spirit of the Lord is in you . . . and HE rains on the just and the unjust--giving, giving, radiating out like the warmth of the sun, in all directions, so that whoever comes into view, into relative contact with you . . . He, through you, radiates on them, and, finally, where you use to seek and strive and finagle constantly to try and be content, loving, happy, at peace . . . NOW you just are those things . . . because you--the old, pining away and complaining and hankering you--is not there to gum up the works.
You have turned to God, to Jesus . . . and away from animating the smoke monster (your old attached thoughts, desires, will, selfish machinations, manipulating, controlling impulses etc.) . . . and almost immediately . . . that whirl of confusion--the smoke you kept pumped up--begins to die down, begins to settle . . . and distance is created between the new you and it . . . so that, increasingly, as you KEEP turning away (from sin) and stay facing the Lord . . . the air clears . . . and you can finally SEE . . . . In time, situations and issues that use to knock you off your peace . . . and drag you down into selfish complaints and attempts to control . . . no longer have power to grab you. Oh, you might feel a little twinge--a very slight, sad pain . . . but fleetingly . . . . You are NOT torn from your peace in the Lord. You remain fast, steadfast.
And not only that . . . but now . . . you have the holy craving to avoid situations and especially old ways of thinking and feeling . . . because this new peace and power in Spirit is so precious, you do not want it sullied; so that, while you walk through the darkest of dens of iniquity, where the heathen rage and where enemies lie in wait to snare . . . and where all manner of carnal filth and debasement is the order of the day, nevertheless, you stay untouched, "above" it all.
No, you no longer take the bait to follow after your internal self-made stories and fallen self-seeking agenda . . . so you stay away from that . . . but, you may find yourself--and likely will, because the Lord will be using a useful vessel like you--in the haunts of the world, among unbelievers, walking by and through the lost . . . but this time . . . you are in another world altogether, like another dimension, so that none of that touches you inwardly and it does not pull you down or disrupt your joy or stir back up the smoke and dust of the dead and buried self. Yes, you are still in the world, but you are not of the world. You are like an alien landed in a foreign land. And you keep looking to and recognizing the "alien righteousness" which is now in you--WHO is now in you . . . and living and moving from that--.
Most everything that bothers you, aggravates you . . . pulls you down . . . creates tension and anxiety and fear and anger . . . and envy . . . and competitiveness . . . is nothing but smoke. Smoke and no light, no fire.
It's all the silly, selfish stories you tell yourself in your head and then the attempt to control others and reality to conform to the story you've made . . . to feel important, special.
It's garbage. It's not you and it's not them. It's just fantasy, childish, juvenile fantasy you yet cling to.
It is a happy day . . . when you realize you can just drop it . . . totally! And walk away. No more tinkering with it. No more trying to fix it, shape it a little better . . . . No more trying to get others to conform to your storyline.
Oh, it looks so terrible and scary, like you will cease to exist if you let go, or that the world somehow wants and needs you to hold onto it. But it's all a big shadow play. Nothing is there. Only the old, dead and doomed self trying to maintain it's existence in you. It will try to get you to feel sorry for it, pleading, warning you not to abandon it.
But it's an evil liar. And it's a tool of the liar to keep you from enjoying the presence of God in you, because you keep looking at and playing with the smoke monster, with your back to Jesus while you do.
Repent . . . . Turn away from it . . . . Turn to the Lord. Just face Him, hold the hem of His robe. Sit with Him, saying nothing, and His presence will comfort you and begin to heal and protect you.
DON'T look back to the wailing old beast trying to get back your attention. Just look to God, pray that He takes you deeper into His comfort, praying for the Holy Spirit to indwell and guide and take you over . . . .
Just . . . stop, drop . . . and walk away . . . from the smoke monster, turning to Jesus . . . . I pray, Amen.