Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spiritual attack

I used to sort of scoff at the idea of spiritual warfare. I mean, wasn't that just something used to explain the unexplained in a time when people simply didn't understand science? All those demons Christ expelled, they were just mentally ill people, right? There can't be any actual bad spirits or demons anything like that. This is the modern world here. Right?

I'm not one to go seeing demons around ever corner or claim they are responsible for my sinful behavior; nor am I going to assume that mentally ill people are in fact possessed. But I also can't discount how the spiritual realm touches the natural world. After all, I believe in angels. If there are spiritual beings dedicated to the glory of God, isn't it possible that there are beings who have fallen?

Whatever the literal reality of the spiritual world may be (angels, demons, etc.), for the first time that I am aware, I felt the effects of spiritual attack recently. That's almost weird to type, as if saying it out loud makes me sound kind of crazy. Maybe I'm still coming to grips with admitting that this piece of existence is real.

In any case, I had been on this "I'm so happy I have been obedient to God's call and started homeschooling" kick for a while. Not in a prideful way - I wasn't boasting to my friends about how great a mom I am. It was an internal thing, a realization that God was truly calling me to this life and I listened, despite being unsure. And He was right. It's been a great experience so far and I am thrilled that we chose to pursue it.

So here I am, feeling all full of the Holy Spirit and I wonder if that put a big target on my back. If C.S. Lewis was onto something in The Srewtape Letters, was the demon assigned to me being chastised for allowing me to heed God's call and begin reaping the spiritual fruits of my choice?

Out of nowhere, I got grumpy. I felt PMS-y (yes, I will feel free to make up words), yet it wasn't the right time for that. Hormones didn't explain it. I was tired when I shouldn't be, frustrated over the littlest things, snappy with my kids. I would get to the end of the day and wonder what on earth had been so draining, so awful about the day. Nothing had gone amiss. The kids were typical, the day had been fine. So why was I feeling so crappy?

Yes, we have extra stress in our lives right now. My husband's job search goes on, but even that added stress didn't explain this sudden, random turn of mood that I couldn't seem to get out from under.

And then it occurred to me. Is this what spiritual attack feels like?

Just as I'm riding the high of my new found commitment of obedience to the will of God (and not just in homeschooling - my husband and I have used the job situation as a means to explore our trust in God and it has been a good growing experience despite the stress) - I come crashing down. Nothing external happened to cause my distress, and yet there it was. I was slogging through the mud of self pity and frustration, wet and cold and dirty, despite the sun shining high in the sky.

So I prayed.

I thought about whether this might be what people mean by spiritual attack, and I prayed for protection against it. And you know what happened? I felt better. Instantly. Right then and there. It was as if the only window to the outside world had been wiped clean of dirt and grime, letting the light pour in and warm the room. I felt lighter, less frustrated, renewed. I have felt that way ever since.

Not that I feel happy and perfect every second. I am concerned about my husband's job situation and there are moments when I'm frustrated with my kids and wish I had more hours in the day to get things done. But that oppressive weight that was dragging me down, the weight I couldn't explain, is gone.

I've continued to ask for protection for myself as well as my husband and it has had quite the effect on both of us. I'm glad I have opened my mind to the possibility that spiritual attack is in fact real - otherwise I would have found myself defenseless against it.

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