Sunday, November 6, 2011
The Devil has been a hot topic of conversation of late. I blame Halloween. The girls started by being DE vils. Feminine devils according to them. They do not have horns, but they look enough like devils to lure them in, and then they shock them with the news of Jesus. ? Yea, don't ask me. All I know for sure is they wear red or black.
My daughters are much like I was. I hated to say in church, "I reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises." I was ready to reject his message, but something seemed wrong about rejecting him. When my girls were parading around the house in their black and red, their clever" brother tried to put them in their place. "If you are a devil, God hates you." My eight year old immediately responded, "God doesn't hate the devils even though they hate Him."
Out of the mouths of babes.
He came up again tonight after dinner. As the younger children talked, the familiar response emerged. "If the devil...I would make him sit on a tack." Fine, I think that makes sense for a six year old, but when my pre-teen had the same response, I had to pause.
"The devil would actually love you to picture him on a tack," I said. "Your six year old sister's threat is truly terrifying to him, but from you, he knows he has you just where he wants you."
Thinking himself very cute he asked, "But mom, if I ever did meet him face to face can I punch him?"
"Oh, but you have met him face to face. Do you remember when you.... do you remember how you knew it was wrong, but something inside you told you to do it anyway? That WAS the devil.
And you did 'punch him in the face.' When you rode your bike to church, and when you told me about it, and when we went to Confession, that was a punch in the face worthy of an 11 year old.
But if you didn't do those things and you kept doing what you knew to be wrong, he wins. You need to remember what you felt like. Remember what it felt like when he was there because he will be back. Maybe next time you can 'punch' him before you give in."
I got the I don't want to talk about this face.
So be it, but I planted the seed. The Joy Joy Joy song plants the seed for the little ones. "If the Devil doesn't like it, he can sit on a tack. Ouch!" Enough for a small child. Someone who deserves the TACK with adult encouragement is scary enough. It doesn't need to be scarier. But as they get older, they need knew images, new scenarios, new ways to recognize not just evil, but the evil one.
I am very careful to never allow my kids to think humans are devils. Humans do bad things, but they are by nature good. Maybe the devil doesn't exist, but I am not willing to take that risk. If there is a spiritual word, and half of it is out to steal my children, I think it is worth the effort to prepare them.
I have felt evil. Sometimes it is from my own sins. Sometimes it is the weight of knowing the horrible things that one human can do to another. But I know it is a weight. It is a physical presence. It is not guilt or fear. It is a pressure in the world that pushes us toward the center of the earth, just as an inspirational story of victory against all odds makes us feel as if we have wings.
Is evil just evil or is the devil real? Faith alone can answer that. But evil seems to exist outside of human actions. Even when an evil act is done by accident or with good motive, the evil still exists. We can still feel it around us, pushing us down.
And so I ere on the side of prudence. "Remember what it felt like when he was there, for as sure as you are human, he will be back."