It has been a crazy few weeks. I am not really sure what is going on, but I have felt under severe spiritual attack and it’s not very much fun.
I always wonder about spiritual attack. Like, at what point am I just over reacting and at what point am I under reacting. Actually that is the story of my life. I am always doing either one or the other. I’m a radical, I have a hard time with balance. So for me spiritual warfare comes with a whole other set of problems: me trying to discern exactly what is going on, what God is trying to teach me and clinging to Christ for dear life (because I’m a pansy and I will give up if I don’t).
I think maybe that is why people don’t really talk about it very much. Almost everyone will end up in one of the two groups. The group that thinks sparky (the devil) is so scary that they can’t even read about him or they have nightmares, which means they give him way too much credit, or the group that ignores that he even exists. It’s easy to fall in these two groups. I flip-flop from them. One minute I’m saying “Bring it sparky you jack wagon!!” and the next I’m crying in a fetal position begging God to help me and apologizing for being so prideful and antagonizing the evil one. I made the mistake once of trying to research Spiritual Warfare on my own without spiritual direction. Don’t do that. I ended up thinking that sparky was under every rock and everything going on in my life was him attacking me.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it’s easy to use it to relieve ourselves from any responsibility for our actions. “Oh, the devil made me do it” line of thinking. The fact is that a legion of demons couldn’t make us do anything, that is how powerful our free will is, and that is why they hate us. In the end, me and only me, is responsible for my choices and my actions. I think that we have all lost that sense of personal responsibility on so many levels and that is why we can’t relate to a God who expects us to choose the moral good. We don’t allow children to “lose” a soccer game because it may hurt their feelings. Instead of using it as a teaching moment that says “Hey, we lost, so we will practice harder next time, learn from our mistakes, and become a better team!” Instead we feed our kids this crazy idea that we should be rewarded for just showing up the same as the team who worked their butts off and did what it took to become better players. Not only does that set them up for a long sad life, but it sets them up for sparky to be able to attack them relentlessly. It’s like putting a target on their back for him.
Saints do not become saints by just showing up. Some saints were failures, but it wasn’t for the lack of hard work in changing themselves. Living a Christian life requires a lot of hard work. You can’t just show up and expect to have an easy ride. And Jesus made that very clear when He said “Pick up your CROSS and follow me.” He didn’t say “Oh hey, don’t worry about it, I got this, you just show up and enjoy the good music until you die and get into Heaven without lifting a finger.”
There is a difference between building your child up and sheltering them from any kind of hardship. Not allowing them to learn how to cope through hardship only paralyzes them. That is cruel. I think it is also cruel to do to adults who are coming into the Church or are preparing for marriage in the Church.
We have become obsessed with “feeling good”. We don’t want to suffer. I get it, I hate thinking about suffering at all. But because we avoid suffering at all costs we make “feeling good” an idol and then we pass that on to our kids. Then comes sparky who swoops them up and we are sitting here wondering why they aren’t Catholic anymore. We have to go back to the days of raising children who are striving to be saints,and missionaries; hard work and all.
I am writing this, but that doesn’t mean that my kids are ready to be saints and missionaries. I’m wrestling them all to even go to Mass as I type, but what I am saying is that it takes intentional parenting to raise intentional disciples and the only way to do that is to let our children feel the pain of defeat sometimes. It is nothing compared to the feeling of dusting yourself off and getting back on track.
Our world needs intentional disciples of Christ, and it’s our responsibility as parents to raise them.