Friday, September 4, 2015

A Peak Inside the Devil's Playbook

He is relentless

This past Sunday I was able to attend my second Holy League meeting for our deanery.  I've only attended twice but have experienced powerful consolation, healing, and insight into my own spiritual life.  I know it must be a great thing for me because I never want to go!

That's how the devil likes to work in my life.  I believe he knows that certain things will bump me back onto the right path and so he likes to steer me in other directions.

Going in to this particular meeting I was feeling deep depression and despair about my life.  I've been struggling with meaningful work for myself, the possibility of my wife needing to go back to work to support us, etc., which is really depressing for me.  We have this system or way of life that we enjoy and it appears that things are going to change dramatically.  So, all of this and other things have been making me feel like less than a man.  Queue devil pounce....

In the days leading up to the Holy League event I felt more and more pressure to abandon the idea of attending. Should I really be taking time away from the family?  Couldn't you be working on the deck which needs stained?  How about not wasting 2-3 hours and instead looking for a job?  You know, you could spend this time writing your next book?

I knew in my heart that this was happening to me.  It wasn't something of my own thoughts and emotions.  I decided to commit.  I told my wife I was going.  She wants me to go to such events and so now I would have to come up with a really good excuse not to go!

The event, as I mentioned, was incredible.  We start with 30 minutes of discussion about problems facing masculine spirituality.  Then, we move to the church for a Holy Hour and Confession.  It is here that the "fog of war" begins to lift.  It was here that I began to see what was happening to me with my cooperation.

Modus Operandi

Since the garden, the modus operandi of Satan hasn't changed - doubt, sin, despair (rinse and repeat).  At any given moment things can not go as I planned and the Evil One is there by my side in an instant.  Really, you still think God loves you after this?  How's that daily rosary working for you when this happens?  Prayer life?  Seems more like you are talking to God and He's playing on His iPhone.  Has God really answered any of your prayers, you know, the really important ones, like ones not even for yourself but for the good of others?  and on and on....

Once that seed of doubt is firmly planted my natural sinful response is to comfort myself with some sin, big or small.  I think, if God isn't there or doesn't care and I need to feel loved, I'll comfort myself with 1) Indulging in surfing the internet, 2) Drinking to drunkenness, 3) Looking at pornography, 4) Gambling, 5) Eating to excess, 6) Playing video games, 7) Hiding from my family and obligations in my man cave, 8) _____________________ (insert favorite personal sin here).

It is at this point that The Tempter transforms into The Accuser and despair enters.  Too often the despair is a catalyst for more comfort sin and the cycle continues to spiral downward.

I've learned that this is always the game plan.  However, I almost never see it coming.  Knowing that I'm often like a spiritual Bill Murry in Groundhog day, I wrote it all down here for you and for me to come back to again and again, day after day.

3 Fold Solution to a 3 Fold Problem

The solution is simple, almost too simple.  It's so simple that Satan will be at your side in an instant and say that it can't really be the answer or won't really help (DOUBT!!!).  Here's the antidote for his MO.

1. Doubt - Trust: Trust that God loves you.  You can build this trust by having a daily prayer life.  Pray the Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Read Scripture, just do something that puts you in daily communication with God.  It will strengthen you against doubt.

2. Sin - Hedge: Build a hedge around your favorite sin.  In other words, make "avoiding the near occasions of sin" easier.  If your favorite sin is drinking, give your wife a key to the cabinet. If your favorite sin is porn, install filters, make your wife your accountability partner or a close friend.  Ultimately, you want to make your sin hard to get to so when you do doubt, you'll have time to pause and reflect on why you are reaching for the sin.

3. Despair - Confess: Confession is the field hospital of the spiritual life.  But trust me, the devil doesn't want you to make it to triage.  He doesn't want you dead.  He wants P.O.W.'s!!  Period.  If you find yourself resisting Confession, that ain't Jesus doing that brother!  Remember how you were healed the last time you went to Confession and nearly bumped your head on the ceiling of the church?  God wants to give you that again.  (Caution - it is at this poi
nt that doubt, sin, and despair will be strongest, be ready)

His plan is simple, the remedy is simple but none of it is easy.  Come back to this post as often as you need because I know I will, probably in the next day or so...

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