When I asked the Holy Spirit what I could write on today, I heard, “Your mom.” My mom? What about my mom?
He said, “What do you like about your mom?” The first thing that I thought of is that she stops the domino effect.
My mom has had her fair share of trials, though most wouldn’t know. Some of these came at exactly the worst time, which I imagine Satan threw at her to try and discourage her. I’ve seen the trials hurt her, but what I love about my mom is that, in those trials, she didn’t turn to frustration with God, or doubt or panic. She didn’t embrace sin as a way to cope. She suffered and she prayed and cried, but she denied Satan the opportunity to let the one hardship lead to distance between her and God.
I think it is interesting to think about how Satan uses trials to try and distance us from God. This is probably why The Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books. We know he comes to steal and kill and destroy, but how? I believe he often works with a domino effect.
I’ll avoid giving details about my mom’s life, so I’ll use some random examples instead to demonstrate what I mean. Satan could attack someone with a sickness (the equivalent of knocking one domino down), but what starts as a sickness, turns to frustration that God isn’t healing (the first domino hits a second), which turns to doubt that there is a God (the second knocks down a third), which then turns to living without talking to God at all. The one domino knocks down a whole line of dominos.
Another example is maybe someone is sexually abused. Satan could whisper to someone that they aren’t loved, and that maybe their bodies aren’t worth anything anyway. In fact, this is exactly what he did to some teens I worked with that were taken out of the sex industry. Many of them had been sexually abused as kids so, as teens, they were happy to be prostituting with a pimp. They disassociated from their bodies and thought of sex as nothing, and they could get some money. Then this lifestyle led them to embrace some lies about who they really were, and embrace the lie that God didn’t love them.
Trials and temptations will come. This is Biblical. But how much power we give them to shape other parts of our lives is not determined by the struggle, it is determined by us.
To see what giving power to a trial looks like, just look at any villain on TV. There was something bad that happened to them as a kid or an adult. Then, in that hurt and frustration, they became hardened in some way. Maybe they were bullied. But instead of getting healed from that bullying, they decide to live their lives in vengeance. One trial turned to a whole life of emotional pain.
Can’t we see that when trials come our way, Satan has two purposes? One purpose is to harm us with the trial itself and the other purpose is to lead us to more harm in other areas of our lives through this domino effect. What my mom did through her life, and what I hope to do as best I can, is not let the one attack affect every area of life. In trials, I hope to check my mind, to believe God is good even when I can’t understand, to pray to Him because I know He is on my side, to trust Him, to seek inner healing from Him, and to let His truth (and not my shame and pain) form my beliefs. I desire to stop the domino effect.
I believe when Satan sends a trial, he wants for the whole chain of dominos to fall just from knocking down the one. If he knocks down the one, I want it just to be the one… or none! I know God can heal and that domino can get put right back up!
While I know this is easier said than done, thinking about my mom’s life gives me so much hope that resisting the domino effect is possible. I realize that there were many opportunities for her to pity herself, turn to sin, doubt God, or doubt her worth, but she didn’t. She held onto the fact that God loved her, even in the mysteries of suffering, and she turned to Him and gave her life to Him. This is what I love about my mom and this is what I want to grow in continually through my life- resisting the domino effect.
And since I mentioned The Screwtape Letters, this is a quote from that book. One demon was talking to another demon. (They are talking about God when they talk about their enemy)
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
― C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters