Lizards and Dragons

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Would you rather battle a lizard or a dragon? I’d pick a lizard any day.

But sometimes we find ourselves facing dragons. Why? Perhaps it’s because we let the lizards grow to become fire-breathing dragons that wreak havoc on others and on ourselves. This may sound a little far-fetched and fantastical, given that dragons are mythical creatures.

But then again … maybe we ignored something at first that has now turned into a pretty bad habit. It would’ve been easier to stop it before it became a habit which we now have to break. Or maybe we let a negative thought or emotion run rampant and take over our peace of mind, when we could have dealt with it in the beginning stages.

Take worry, for example. If we don’t stop worry (worrying about a relationship, stressing out about a grade, fearing something such as rejection) when it first comes to us, it can become like a dragon, breathing down our throats. The anxiety ends up affecting our decision-making process, even our actions. We may even feel trapped by its fierce claws, unable to move or even to think. We lose our confidence. We feel alone, etc.

We need to say “NO!” to worry. Jesus is pretty clear about this in the Sermon on the Mount. He tells us, “Don’t worry” about anything. Rather, we need to think about God first, seek God’s kingdom, figure out how to do what God wants first (Matt 6:25-34). Putting God first helps us refuse to get caught up in dark and dangerous thought patterns that could become dragon-like.

God gives us the courage to stand up and say NO to thoughts, actions, words that simply need to be stopped, whether they’re in the lizard or dragon phase.

  • We can say NO to criticizing, judging, or condemning others or ourselves.
  • We can say NO to gossiping, telling lies, spreading rumors.
  • We can say NO to complaining.
  • We can say NO to starting, continuing, or engaging in any conversation (in person, online, via any electronic device) that would put down another human being, regardless of whether that person is a family member, friend, a person on the street, or even a public figure.
  • We can say NO to speaking sarcastically, which tears down the other.
  • We can say NO to showing contempt for another.
  • We can say NO to devaluing any human being, including ourselves.
  • We can say NO to partaking in drug or alcohol abuse (because “even the slightest use is abuse”).
  • WE can say NO to cheating, lying, or stealing of any kind.
  • We can say NO to engaging in negative or destructive peer pressure.
  • We can say NO to defining ourselves or others by what things we have.
  • We can say NO to being on electronic devices and technology most, if not all, of the time.
  • We can say NO to cyber or old-fashioned bullying.
  • We can say NO to defacing or degrading our God-given identities in any way.
  • We can say NO to any thoughts or feelings that would allow a dragon to take over our consciousness.

Now, we don’t just say “NO” and do nothing else. We don’t ignore our feelings, allow hurtful situations to continue, or pretend everything is just fine. That’s enabling the lizards to become dragons. Rather, we actively defend ourselves from negativity. We confront whatever we need to confront and see it for what it is. And because dragons are imaginary creatures, having no power over us unless we give them power, we have the upper hand. As we listen to God, we’ll know what to think and do. God guides and guards us each step of the way.

The more we guard our thinking, the easier it is to maintain a balanced, worry-free attitude. It’s not easy, just easier. And it’s so vital that we do it because our thinking determines our speech, our actions, and essentially, the quality of our lives. Why battle a dragon if you don’t have to? Scare the lizard away instead!