Two days before Thanksgiving I found myself in the baking aisle of my local Walmart.
It was crowded. It was frantic. And while I navigated the aisles with a typical why-don’t-I-roll-around-on-the-floor-and-cause-general-mayhem exceedingly active four-year-old boy, I could all but hear the judgment dripping from my Walmart comrades-in-arms.
Really. Can’t she control that kid?
If that were my son, do you know what I’d do?
Mothers today. Hmph. In my day, we didn’t put up with any of that nonsense.
Of course, no one said any of that to me. In fact, I probably got more smiles and nods than I did glares. Those who did glare were most likely wrapped up in their own pre-holiday craziness or personal struggles.
But I have an active Wormwood — and he takes direction very well.
Consolations, Desolations, and Hearing the Voice of God
There’s a meme rolling around the internet. You’ve probably seen it some iteration of it:
While I generally take most faith-based graphics with a grain of salt (especially if I don’t know the provenance), this one gave me pause. That voice in the graphic — the one attributed to Satan? That is the voice I hear more often than not.
Like many women, I struggle with feelings of worthlessness and fraudulence. The truth is they are not from God. Rather, they are a form of desolation: a spiritual attack first highlighted by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Their counterpart consolations are soothing reminders of hope.
- turns us in on ourselves
- drives us down the spiral ever deeper into our own negative feelings
- cuts us off from community
- makes us want to give up on things that used to be important to us
- takes over our whole consciousness and crowds out our distant vision
- covers up all our landmarks
- drains us of energy
- directs our focus outside and beyond ourselves
- lifts our hearts so that we can see the joys and sorrows of other people
- bonds us more closely to our human community
- generates new inspiration and ideas
- restores balance and refreshes our inner vision
- shows us where God is active in our lives and where he is leading us
- releases new energy in us
Seems familiar, right? It’s the same principle evinced in the graphic, made evident via feelings instead of words. But if, like me, you play host to particularly effective Wormwood, knowing the name of a thing isn’t as helpful as seeing how it works. Here are seven concrete examples of the desolations Satan sends you, followed by their consolation counterparts.
God’s voice stills you; Satan’s voice rushes you
What you say to yourself: I don’t have time for this! Why do I have to play “Chutes and Ladders” for the 5,674th time? It’s going to be 4 o’clock before I know it and I still haven’t gotten anything done. WHY WON’T MY CHILDREN JUST PLAY BY THEMSELVES?!?
What God whispers: “Be still. Know me. I will help you accomplish what needs to be done.”
God’s voice leads you; Satan’s voice pushes you
What you say to yourself: “I ate too much at dinner last night and then I had those cookies. I’m going to have to run an extra mile on the treadmill. Maybe I should work out twice?”
What God whispers: “Today is a new day. Look at yourself through my eyes. Let me show you how I see the woman I have made.”
God’s voice reassures you; Satan’s voice frightens you
What you say to yourself: What if I’m not enough? What if I can’t raise these children the way I’m supposed to? What if I’m not a good wife?
What God whispers: “My grace is sufficient for you. I have made you in my image. I promise you are more than enough.”
God’s voice enlightens you; Satan’s voice confuses you
What you say to yourself: I’m so lost. I don’t know what to do. I’m terrible at making decisions anyway. Someone else needs to do this for me.
What God whispers: “Listen to my voice. Let me quiet your heart. My Holy Spirit will guide you.”
God’s voice comforts you; Satan’s voice worries you
What you say to yourself: (3 AM) What am I going to do? I should have followed up on this months ago. Now it’s too late, and I can’t do anything about it.
What God whispers: “I am with you. Trust me. I will carry you through this.”
God’s voice calms you; Satan’s voice obsesses you
What you say to yourself: “Everyone’s going to know I messed up and they’re never going to forget it. I’ll be ostracized. I should be ostracized. Honestly, they should probably take my children away.”
What God whispers: “My child, I love you. Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
God’s voice convicts you; Satan’s voice condemns you
What you say to yourself: I’m worthless. I’m fat, I’m a terrible mother, and I can’t even have a decent conversation with my husband without saying something snarky.
What God whispers: “I have planned you from the beginning of time. You were made for greatness, my Child. Now go and do what I have called you to do.”
God made you. He loves you. You are not worthless, a failure, or a fraud.
Even if your fellow Walmart shoppers look at you sideways, that judgment doesn’t matter. What does matter is the voice of God, who can count every hair on your head and has found each one to be pleasing.
Mama, don’t believe the lies of your Wormwood. Cling to the God of love in your heart.
Copyright 2018 Ginny Kochis