It’s been quite a roller coaster the past 4-5 weeks. Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart. And Spiritual Warfare is real.
Let me back up. There was a time when people would mention that they believed they were being attacked spiritually and I honestly didn’t know what they meant. I always prayed for them, of course, but I sometimes wondered what it must feel like to know you are being spiritually attacked. I have always believed spiritual attack was real, but just wasn’t ever sure I was experiencing it — at least never in the present. I could often look back at times in my life and see that Satan and his demons were having quite a time with me, but rarely did I ever believe it was happening to me as it was happening to me.
That has changed, and I am not sure if it is simply the fact that I am trying to see it when it happens to me or if the attack has been kicked up a notch. It’s probably a little bit of both, if I have to come up with a reason.
Several months ago, I noticed a change in how I was treating my husband. The awareness was clearly a gift from the Holy Spirit because it was through it that I started to feel the negative forces at work in my heart. Some examples that I noticed was that everything he did that typically annoyed me a little bit started annoying me A LOT. Like, I couldn’t even hide my stupid reaction. Some of these things were things he had always done and that I’d always just sort of glossed over figuring they were no big deal. But suddenly, for a few months, these things were all HELLA BIG DEALS and I was mad or annoyed.
It got to the point when he did something that was wrong on all levels, it angered me to a point I had not been before with him. Looking back, when he did this, I still would have been angry had I not already been annoyed with him for the previous few months. But the anger I felt was to a point that it scared me. I am not kidding. I was furious and all kinds of rage-y angry. The thing about me is…when I get angry, I shut down. I rarely yell, I don’t want to talk and I internalize. Part of this internalization is leftover from my abuse days where I would seek to find my fault in what someone else did. Completely stupid and irrational, but that’s the mindset of someone who has been manipulated for years on end.
Anyway, I’m glad I thought about how I felt and I called in some reserves in the prayer department and asked for some big prayers for my marriage because I believed that our marriage had been attacked for a few months and this action on my husband’s part gave the dark and evil spiritual forces just the opening they needed to try cause even more division in our marriage.
I was angry for about a week…like, I didn’t even feel like talking to my husband for a few days — that kind of angry. This was the first time in our marriage that I had been that angry at him. My husband rarely makes me angry even in a mild sense, so these days were very trying for me. The prayers must have worked well because finally I was at a point where I decided to simply let him know how angry I felt and why. I think part of the reason I had gotten so angry was that I was afraid to tell him the depth of my feelings so then I refused myself the validation that I needed that it was okay to be that angry.
And once I told him and tried to make it clear just how upset and hurt and angry I was, do you know what he did? He apologized. Plain and simple. And I started to feel better and I became less angry. We went to confession that weekend (it had been several months) and I became even less angry and the sadness started to go away, too.
Over the next few weeks, i started to be less annoyed at the things my husband did. Everything isn’t and wasn’t perfect, of course, but I was aware and I realized that I wasn’t preferring nails on a chalkboard over my husband, and that made me believe that the prayers were working, the graces we found in confession were working and that we had tapped into those graces we received when we married, too.
But here is where the reality of spiritual warfare kicked in for me. Recently, we’ve had a couple of things going on with our middle school daughters. They are separate things — one “biggie” thing for Dani and one long, drawn-out “biggie” thing for Helen — but when i put these things together, i start to see that the evil spiritual forces didn’t leave us alone, they simply changed course. Satan and his demons figure, “If we can’t break up their marriage directly, let’s attack their children and divide them there.”
I love that in our Catholic faith we are encouraged to ask for prayers from other faithful Christians. And I cast a very wide net — I was asking people to pray for us that I probably hadn’t spoken to in quite a few months, but I didn’t care. I knew that if I simply told them, “This is serious and I can’t give you any details, but know that we need you to storm heaven for our daughter,” that they would do so. Lots of them came back letting me know that they could be there for me no matter what, and I appreciated that. In Dani’s case it wasn’t my story to spread widely and it still isn’t, so I won’t be going into details here. I will share something that sticks out as a moment that I identified how Satan works: on a night in the middle of a few very troubling days as we dealt with the “biggie” Dani thing, I noticed, all of a sudden, that Dani’s birth stone had fallen out of my mother’s ring. I was so angry when I saw that! Now, sure…yes, it very well could have fallen out even if we hadn’t been dealing with stuff at that time. But the fact that it DID fall out at that precise moment is why I was completely aware that Satan and his demons were chipping away at me, trying to get me to either turn my back on my husband or my daughter and I refuse to ever do either. But it is these little occurrences that we must be aware of to identify the spiritual warfare going on in our lives. And to remember that it will never stop.
What the last year has shown me is that Satan needs only the smallest of openings…if he thinks he can convince you that your husband is a bastard who doesn’t care about you, he will jump at that chance even if all your husband has done is some minor annoyance. And when you overcome his attacks, he will go after your children. He doesn’t give two shits about them and if he sees it as a way to get to you and your marriage, he will do it in a nanosecond. And he’s relentless. When he sees you handle one thing well and it only brings you and your husband closer together, that just pisses him off and he will tackle the kid that hits you hardest.
The thing is…God loves us and He wins. Every. Damn. Time. And so far, God has helped our marriage win and we are helping our children. They were already claimed for Christ in their baptism and it will be over my dead body (and even then it won’t happen) that he gets close to trying to claim my children’s souls.
A prayer I have been praying multiple times a day for many weeks now is the St. Michael prayer. I cling to it. I cry when I pray it. I say it with force. Because I know it will work. I pray it over my children, I pray it with my children, I pray it as I drive away from my house and I pray it as I come into my house.
The amount of comfort that prayer brings me is indescribable. A few weeks ago, I even wondered why it had become my “go-to” prayer. And in hindsight I realized that it had because even though I wasn’t fully conscious of what has been going on, I knew I needed it.
I could probably sit here and come up with a list of times it should have been more evident to me that there was spiritual attack going on in my life, but that’s not really where I wanted to go with this. Basically, I think it’s important to validate to everyone who needs it that spiritual attack is real, it has many forms, and most likely we’ll experience a variety of attacks in our lives. Remember those prayers, remember that God is with us always and that He won already. Remember that you will probably have to fight for your children at some point as well as make sure they grow up strong enough to fight for themselves.