There is an old Cherokee story that has floated around the e-mail world for a few years and I got it again this week from a relative who has been forwarding me e-mail since 1992. (thanks!) I thought I’d post it here to save it as it is always a good reminder to think about.
A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One wolf is evil and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance.”
“The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep vision.”
“This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other human as well.”
The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said. Then he finally cried out; “Oyee! Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The elder Cherokee replied, “The wolf that you feed.”
Every day we face new problems or simply reminders of past hurt and we must always choose, are we going to feed the hurt and allow it to become bitterness or will we genuinely forgive and let go leaving it to God entirely?
In another version of the above Cherokee story the father says to his son that “hating your enemy doesn’t hurt your enemy, it is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” It does you no good to focus on hurt and pain and anger. You must let it go. Don’t feed that wolf, or it will feed on you!
I remember in Star Wars when this inner conflict was the focus of a conversation between Yoda and Luke on Dagoba. The ancient guru is explaining, “Always in conflict they are, the dark and the light side.” He warns “once you give in to the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny.” The young student asks the sage, “Is the dark side of the Force stronger?” Yoda answers, “No, but it is more deceptive.” Negative thoughts lure us into thinking that we are licking our wounds when in reality we are preventing our wounds from healing. The more we focus on how we have been wronged the longer it will take us to learn and grow and move on. They soon will dominate us and take over us and magnify whatever the original hurt was so that the end result is even worse than anything anyone could have done to us. Don’t feed that wolf!
And of course, God speaks of this inner battle in Galatians 5:17 and offers the solution in Philippians chapter 4:
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. – Galatians 5:17
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:7-8
The Apostle Paul certainly had plenty he could complain about or dwell on that was negative but he wisely admonished:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
The past forms us, teaches us and if we allow it, can develop and transform us – but it should not bind us nor retrain us from whole hearted devotion to God and a relentless pursuit of knowing Him and abiding in Him. Feed that wolf and let God take care of the rest.
The choice is yours – which wolf will you feed today?