“What the bleepity bleep are you doing you ugly bleepity bleep bleeper?! You are bleepity bleepin’ UGLY!”
A few weeks ago, as I was getting off the bus on my commute home, a man randomly yelled words I would not want Grace to hear and called me names a woman should never be called. He also called me ugly, multiple times, while shouting and staring me down. The experience was absolutely rattling. It came on suddenly and without being provoked, and, of course, no one should be treated that way in the first place. While it was certainly hurtful and scary (I started crying as I walked away), I paid little heed to his insults of being called ugly. If he had told me I didn’t have a thigh gap or that he could see the blackheads on my nose, maybe I would have felt truly insulted, and gone home to obsess over those “imperfections,” because those comments are true. However, I do not believe that I am ugly, so those words of his did not affect me.
On the other hand, as I was thinking about publishing this journal, there were many moments I felt scared, inadequate, and timid. A voice stirred in me, threatening, people won’t like your writing, or this journal won’t resonate with people. On many occasions, I doubted the vision I had for this journal, thus coming to the momentary conclusion that I should not go through with it. This was not a scary man yelling in my face; this was a voice in my own head. Yet, this voice frightened me one hundred fold more than my encounter with that unkind stranger. This was the devil talking.
My spiritual director, Fr. John Kartje, once told me that the devil does not bother attacking us at our strengths, but rather he attacks our weak points. The devil tempts us where he knows he has a chance to win; he does not want to waste his energy. The devil is a cocktail to an alcoholic, it’s just one drink, you’ll be fine, no one will know, it whispers. He speaks through our vices, our weaknesses. Personally, I tend to get overly concerned about validation from others (maybe because I am a words of affirmation person) rather than being secure in my value as a child of God. The devil knows that, and uses that fact to his advantage. Recall the words that the voice in my head—the devil—used to tempt me: people will not like my writing, it will not resonate with people. He speaks precisely to our weaknesses. Similarly, when I get overly concerned with my body image, the voice in my head is not questioning whether I am healthy (I know I am!), but rather my appearance and body type—something inherently related to the validation of others. Conversely, the devil does not bother tempting me where I am confident and strong. The devil does not tell me that I cannot persevere or work hard enough for a task, for in that I am confident. Likewise, he does not tempt me with lies or provoke anxiety about my marriage, for he knows in that I am secure—strong and protected, like a fortress.
While the devil produces anxiety, Jesus instills peace. Shortly before releasing this journal, I went to Eucharistic adoration with the fears and doubts the devil had instilled in me regarding its release to the public. I came to Jesus, in His presence, bearing these insecurities and temptations. I left with a sense of peace and confidence, and soon stumbled upon this quote from Pope John Paul II, “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” This perfectly described my motivation behind With A Little Grace and this, as JPII says, was all ignited by Jesus! Jesus inspired the vision and mission of this journal. So, it makes sense that the devil would vehemently try to oppose my mission. But I could not let the devil win this battle; I published With A Little Grace the next day!
In the places where the devil stirs up doubts, in the wounds where he whispers lies, in our weaknesses where he tempts us, Jesus encourages us. It is precisely in those dark places where Jesus wants to bring His light. Jesus eagerly awaits for us to come to Him in our weakness, with our open wounds, and to ask for His strength and healing there: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness” (Corinthians 12:9). Reflect on where the devil is talking in your life. We all have weaknesses, doubts, and vulnerabilities where the devil festers. While it is easier to keep our wounds hidden, Jesus longs for us to reveal them to Him, so he can heal with his saving grace.