If you grew up in a Christian home, chances are that you remember the story of Solomon and two women who presented a predicament to him. Essentially, there was one good mother and one bad mother. The bad mother was pretending to be the mother of the others child. Okay, I may have just confused you. Go read the story with my hyperlink! It will make more sense.
Anyway, Solomon, in his wisdom, told the mothers that he would cut the baby in half. Naturally the good mother wanted to save her child and the bad mother replied, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”
I don’t remember how old I was at the time, maybe six or seven years old. But I was cast as the bad mother. My best friend was the good mother. My line was simple, “Cut the baby!” I repeated this a few times while my friend said, “Don’t cut the baby!” I was later dragged away by a “prison guard” as the audience cheered.
I would like to think that the assigning of roles was an arbitrary decision but that role I was given has always been something I’ve struggled with. Could I be inherently bad? Was there a reason I so naturally fit into the part of “bad” mother.
I was the kid who was tough to get along with growing up. I grew upset easily with my friends and would start fights all the darn time. Heck, I get annoyed with myself thinking back on it. I was needlessly mean when I wanted to be and I’ve been told I have a natural disposition of saying things that hurt others without realizing it. I’ve been distracted by the things of this world and constantly struggle to be better, to be kinder.
I was pondering whether or not I could be inherently bad for the first time in years and I believe God sent me an answer, oddly enough through Harry Potter. For any Christians raised in ultra conservative households like myself, do you remember when saying you liked Harry Potter was the equivalent of saying that you loved Lucifer? To think of all the time I wasted not reading it!
Harry, like myself, struggled with feeling as though he could be evil, or have the potential to be bad within himself because of his abilities and who he inherently was. Within Hogwarts, the Wizarding school he attended, students were placed into different houses by an all knowing sorting hat. When the sorting hat for houses was placed on his head, he repeated to himself that he didn’t want to be in the Slytherin house and was then placed in Gryffindor. Slytherin was famous for housing every wizard who had ever become bad.
Feeling as though he had the ability to become evil weighed heavily on Harry. But Dumbledore’s advice to him offers me a sense of comfort and reassurance:
“[The sorting hat] only put me in Gryffindor,” said Harry in a defeated voice, “because I asked not to go in Slytherin…”
“Exactly,” said Dumbledore, beaming once more. “Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
I acknowledge that within me is the potential to be awful, selfish and completely unworthy of anything that I have. But isn’t that why scripture tells us in Romans 3:23 that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Just beyond that verse that really exposes all of us for who we really are is a beacon of hope in verse 24, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Every single day I choose again to follow God and accept the salvation he offers to me. I choose to reject my selfish nature and destructive thought patterns. I choose the good that God offers over the beauty and rotting allure of the world. And lastly, I am reminded by Dumbledore, that it is our choices that show us who truly are, far more than our abilities.