For [Satan] hath no power over the hearts of the people,
for they dwell in righteousness. -1 Nephi 22:26
I originally wrote this on my private family blog. It was August 28, 2011. Felice, Sheridan, Heather, Robyn and I were in the process of selecting the final cover for our book in addition to revising, editing, and polishing the essays and stories we were eager to share with all of you. But Satan was hard at work on us. He did not want The Gift of Giving Life in the hands of the women of the world. He did not want my friendships with my TGOGL sisters to crystalize into the forever kind. But he failed. The book is out there. Little by little, it is touching hearts and changing lives. And the love I have for my TGOGL sisters has deepened with a fierceness that takes my breath away.
This morning I felt impressed that I should share this post, revised today with added insight. God wants you to take the bricks Satan throws at you and build a magnificent house with them. Four ways you can do that…
1) Protect the Achilles’ heels.
Satan has been perfecting his skills for thousands and thousands of years. He knows where you are weakest. He knows where your loved ones are weakest. An article by Elder Hales, “A Little Heaven on Earth,” in September’s Ensign really struck me. He says:
Everyone has weaknesses. The adversary knows the Achilles’ heel of your loved ones, your friends, your roommates, your brothers and sisters, and your parents. Do you understand your Achilles’ heel? The secret to a happy marriage [or any relationship] is to protect the Achilles’ heel and not take advantage of the weaknesses of those you know best, love the most, and ultimately can hurt the most.
I know that’s the truth. I love the image of protecting our loved ones’ Achilles’ heels and our own. If there’s one place we have to reinforce our armor, that’s the place! I’ve resolved to do better at protecting my loved ones and myself from those awful exploitations.
2) Disarm with love.
Those negative thoughts that sneak into your head–those assumptions, suspicions, and suggestions about a person’s ill intentions–you can pretty much rest assured that those come from the master of all lies. He wants you to feel hurt and angry and upset. So, really, when you feel hurt by someone, the counter-intuitive thing is actually the best thing you could do. Put a stopper in your emotional gut reaction, bridle yourself, step back and recognize what’s happening (i.e. Satan is trying to hurt both of you), smile because you’ve beat him in his game, and do the one thing Satan doesn’t want you to do… send love to that person. The people in your life are squeezing you in just the right ways to show you what’s inside of you, teaching you. Some of these people will be crucial in your life’s most important missions. Disarm him (and them) with love.
3) Take courage if you encounter interference.
When you’re feeling especially hard-hit by the adversary, take note. He will try to tear apart the projects and relationships that have the potential to be the most positive things in your life and the lives of those around you. My sister shared a really wonderful story with me years ago. I’ll cut and paste it from her email here:
A couple of years ago we had a Stake RS Enrichment meeting where a woman spoke who was from Africa. Her unique circumstances growing up made her ideally suited to translate the Book of Mormon into an obscure native language. She accepted the assignment and then Satan set to work trying to stop her. She experienced extreme trials with her family, and in other relationships, as well as financially, among other things. Listening to those experiences made me wonder if I could/would have given up in her situation. She persevered, however, and was able to finish the task she’d started. She spoke of how glad she was that she didn’t let Satan stop her, and how it was so worth all of the trials she faced, knowing that the people who spoke this language would now have the Book of Mormon. In fact, I remember her saying that the severity of the trials she experienced showed her just how important her assignment was, that Satan would work that hard to stop her. It was a very inspiring story!
There are people Satan is desperate to tear away from you. There are things Satan is desperate to keep you from doing. These are the areas where you must accelerate your efforts. When Satan hits you hard, don’t give up. Arm yourself, fill yourself with love, and work even harder ’cause whatever you’re doing is probably going to be magnificently wonderful… which is why he can’t stand it!
4) Shield yourself, and establish clear boundaries.
Yes, we are instructed to love our enemies. Yes, sometimes strained relationships are those we should cling to with even more fierceness. BUT… boundaries are important. Shield yourself. Every day. Multiple times a day. Ask God to place a shield of light and love around you. Loving a person despite their weaknesses is good. But allowing someone’s toxic behavior to weaken you is not. If you find there is someone in your life whose behavior is damaging to your soul, establish clear boundaries. Protect yourself and your family in whatever ways God directs you, always sending love to that person. Sometimes strained relationships can blossom into something beautiful. But toxic relationships can also be very harmful. Satan will try to confuse you. But God will guide you to know exactly how to respond to a toxic situation.
When I was in my freshman year of college, a dear friend and I used to repeat a favorite statement to encourage each other: “Bind Satan now.” We know there will come a time when Satan will be literally bound and unable to influence us, but my friend and I often talked about our deep desires to “bind Satan now” within our own hearts and lives, to strive in every way we could to put ourselves beyond his reach.
I often think of the scene in one of the Harry Potter movies where Voldemort gets inside of Harry, torturing him with horrible thoughts and images. Harry writhes on the floor, in agony. And then he starts to fight back, filling his mind with happy memories and people who love him. And love wins. Voldemort can’t withstand the power of love and flees Harry. It is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes.
I have felt that struggle between evil/darkness/hate and good/light/love within my own self. When we feed the love, the light within us burns brighter and brighter until the powers of evil cannot tolerate our presence. As the scriptures teach, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you” (D&C 50:24-25).
That kind of brightness is within our reach. Keep reaching. Keep on pushing back the dark.