I usually don’t ascribe things that go wrong in my life to some Dark Force of Evil. (I can do plenty of damage to myself all on my own, thanks.) But if I were Satan and wanted to hurt a lot of people, all I’d have to do is get them to believe one thing: God doesn’t love you.
I was always taught growing up, if I were talking to the sort of Christian that believed in the Devil (not all of them do), that Satan would try to convince me to cheat on tests or exclude someone from the group or abuse alcohol.
But I think all of those little sins are just symptoms of believing that One Big Lie – that we are unloved, that we are probably damned. We cheat because we’re afraid we’ll never be enough. We exclude because we’re afraid that we’ll never be accepted. We abuse substances to numb the fear.
On the other hand, someone who’s absolutely convinced they are loved with a love that stretches out to the ends of the universe is fierce. Dangerous. Wild, because they’ve gone out into the wilderness to meet a wild God. Unafraid to face their own imperfections because those parts are loved too. Convinced that their resources, their gifts can feed not only themselves but five thousand more.
If I were the Devil, I’d certainly want a few less of those around.
Freedom starts when we stop believing that somehow we can outrun God’s love. It’s not an easy task. I manage it for a very small percentage of my life, and the rest of the time I’m back to being anxious.
Sometimes I try to think how ludicrous it is to believe I, little me, could change something that’s been written in the stars, declared in scripture, and woven into human history. But that’s logical, and this fear, like most fears, comes from a place beyond logic.
So instead of trying to reason with myself, I read poetry. (This seems to be more effective.) I take walks, make soup on cold days, and journal. I get up early in the morning to write. I ask for help when I can’t figure things out on my own.
In fact, every act of kindness towards myself seems to pry open a door that got shut when I believed the One Big Lie. I’m not sure why this is, except that maybe doing these things aligns with the will and purpose of a loving God.
This is not a solitary pursuit. Many times I’ve had the courage to be kind to myself only because I witnessed someone else taking their health and their passions seriously, even though they weren’t quite sure how to go about it. Most of the time, when you chose to be kind to yourself, someone else is watching and learning (maybe me). You could be opening doors for people you know nothing about.
I used to think unbelief was not a problem for me. (If God’s not real, then who the hell is talking in my head? Kidding…kind of.) But believing God is real and believing God loves me no matter what, because that’s who he is and it has nothing to do with me, are two different things.
Perhaps if you catch me being unkind to myself, a sure sign that I don’t believe in God’s love on that particular day, you could gently call me out.