I divided this blog into 2 parts. So if you haven’t listened or read part 1, go back and do that. It will give you some context. This is Episode 49 Hearing and Hindering part 2.
Today is a subject that I approach with a little trepidation. And the reason for that is that I really don’t want to dwell on something negative. Or give any credit to the adversary. However, I do believe it is incredibly crucial for us to understand how the adversary works, so that we can avoid those fiery darts (or be shielded from) as I talked about last week. And one of the things that I have learned throughout my life is that Satan is especially cunning at getting us to fall for his evil ways.
He’s been successful once or twice in getting me to walk away from the Gospel and the church that I dearly love. I have grown up learning daily how to walk in the ways of Christ. So you would think that would be enough to ward off all of Satan’s ploys. But unfortunately that is not enough. In fact I think he works even harder when we are trying to be obedient and live righteously.
I mean think about it. We have been on this Earth for less than 80 years (most of us less) but the adversary has been around since the beginning of time. So he has had a lot of practice honing his evil skills. Which makes it that much more important for us to be ever vigilant in keeping ourselves prepared and aware of the way that he works on each of us individually.
Last week we talked about specific habits, or patterns that we use to effectively learn how the Lord speaks to us and prompts us. And this week we are going to talk a little bit about the contrast of that. Which is how the adversary lulls and tempts with certain ways or approaches that are tailored, unfortunately, to us as individuals. And works to get us to stop those good habits that we’ve worked so hard to create. So it’s so important that you learn how this happens for you, so you can put those habits back in place. It’s time to fight back.
I will be referring alot to Peter M. Johnson’s talk from October 2019, Power to Overcome Adversity, (one of my Absolute favorites talks of all time).
One thing that I have learned to be wary of, is how slowly Satan works. It happens SO slowly! Think of the 1% marginal gains that we talked about last week. The fiery darts that he throws can be almost imperceptible if you aren’t paying attention. One small act at a time. One small thought at a time. One small step at a time. And before you know it, you’re doing or saying things that you never ever thought you would. Going places that you never imagined. And worse than that is that you have accepted it and even believe that it’s the right way to do things or say things. Or right where you need to be.
Ugggg I hate to even think about how awful he is. I heard Marie Osmond say once that she won’t even give him a name. She call’s him “scratch”. Because sometimes he acts like an itch that just won’t leave you alone.
But the great thing is this! We were being prepared long before this lifetime with all of the tools that we need to fight the battles that will come our way. We are taught by President Nelson that we are “choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work.”
In Doctrine and Covenants 138:56 We read: Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
Which means that we are all pretty skilled already. But those skills do take some honing.
And one of the ways that we do that is to put on the WHOLE Armor of God on! As explained in Ephesians 6:10-18 And we’ll talk about this in a little bit.
In The Book Of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ) Mormon Chapter 8 gives us insight into today’s world, Moroni says he has seen our day, and it includes wars and rumors of wars, great pollutions, murders, robbing, and people who tell us that there is no right or wrong in God’s eyes. He describes people who are filled with pride, caught up in the wearing of expensive clothing, and who make fun of religion. He is shown people who are so obsessed with worldly things that they allow “the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by”3 without being noticed. Sounds a lot like today’s times doesn’t it?
But we should not despair, it is the Lord’s way that will lead us to life eternal!
The prophet David O. Mckay taught: Christ is the light to humanity. In that light man sees his way clearly; when it is rejected, the soul of man stumbles in darkness. No person, no group, no nation can achieve true success without following him who said:
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)
Are any of us exempt from the power of the adversary? Nope, however, through it all, our Savior is with us. He is the advocate to the Father! So even if we fall prey to some of the adversaries’ lies, and make mistakes that we feel keep us from the light, there is always a way back. I am living proof of that!
So in what ways can we learn how Satan works on us as indivduals. Well, Elder Johnson had something to say about that. He said, “You are elect sons and daughters of God. You have the power to overcome the adversary. The adversary, however, is aware of who you are. He knows of your divine heritage and seeks to limit your earthly and heavenly potential by using three Ds:
Now it’s important to note that there are more ways than what Elder Johnson refers to that the adversary uses, like doubt, rejection, stress, etc. But I loved how he used these 3 because I think they are probably common among most people.
Deception, This is a very sneaky way that is used. For example, how many times have you heard commercials or seen ads promising instant weight loss? Or here’s how you can have the body you always wanted in as little as 1 week? I don’t think these people do these things intentionally to hurt us. But I do believe that it is a tool of deception to get us to forget who we are and where we came from. And to focus on our physical bodies rather than our spiritual potential.
]We are sons and daughters of the most high God. And there is no magic pill, or workout that can ever change that. But sometimes we sure feel like we need to be more than we are don’t we? Elder Johnson says, “The adversary attempts to deceive by having us forget who we truly are. If we do not understand who we are, then it is difficult to recognize who we can become.”
Distraction Wow! This is a big one right?! We have everything we could possibly think of to keep our minds busy and too distracted to realize what’s really happening. Remember how slowly I said that the adversary works? Just think about this for a minute. According to statisa.com As of 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day! That’s more than 2 hours, which doesn’t seem too terrible right? I mean our parents probably spent equal amounts of time watching the T.V. before the invention of the smartphone.
But think about it this way. 145 minutes per day is 14 hours per week. 728 hours per year! That’s roughly 30 days out of a 365 day year that we waste staring at our screens looking to be entertained or engaged in some way. Wait what? Nearly one whole month a year? Holy moley! That’s alot.
Now I’m not saying that there are not great things on social media that can be teaching you and helping you to learn and grow. I mean I would consider podcasting/blogging a form of social media so there is that! Haha.
I did my own little experiment of social media a few weeks ago when I went on a trip to visit family. I was there for 10 days and so I thought, “you know”, I am just going to delete all my social media apps so I can be fully present for my family while I’m there. I don’t want any distractions making me waste my time with them. And you know what’s crazy? I hardly missed it at all!
I was having such a good time enjoying my “extra” time with them that I even decided to extend it another week after I returned home so I could be prepared for General Conference. And guess what? That was really hard. I had a little more free time. And I think Satan works extra hard on all members of the church before General Conference. The last thing he wants is for us to receive personal revelation from the Lord through our prophets, seers, and revelators. He’s a sly one!
There are a whole lot more distractions than social media. But I just wanted to give you a peek at one of the ways the adversary uses pretty effectively.
The third D from elder Johnson’s talk is “discouragement. We may get discouraged when we compare ourselves to others or feel we are not living up to expectations, including our own.
I was watching a show the other night with my bonus son. And I couldn’t believe it when I heard a statement that hit me hard. Discouragement is one of the big ways that the adversary uses to get to ME personally.
Last week I talked about how I put on a brave face or sometimes I refer to it as a mask or “the happy face”. I do that so people will think that I’m fine and not be uncomfortable around me. So when I heard this it really sunk in. It said, “A mask doesn’t heal the wounds. A mask only hides them.”
It got me thinking about all the reason’s that other people put on a “mask” Whether it be illness, identity, abuse, etc. Sometimes I even think that as a mom with small children we can put on that brave face even though we are so stressed and so spread thin that we can barely think straight.
But one thing that I’m sure of, is that Satan tries to get us to keep that mask on. He feeds us with even more reasons that we should be discouraged such as, comparing ourselves to other moms or others who have gone through similar things and come out sparkling. He tells us that people won’t believe us, or will laugh at us, or that we will feel even smaller than we already feel. He may make us feel like we aren’t living up to other’s expectations of us, or maybe even our own expectations!
I am inviting you today to join me and take off your mask. Let yourself be vulnerable. It is the only way that we will be able to heal the wounds of the darts that have already found their mark. Most of the thoughts that we have that discourage us are truly just that! Thoughts! So if we can take off that mask we may find out that there are a lot of people who are waiting to support and help us walk our journey.
Elder Johnson goes on to say “please do not let anyone steal your happiness. Do not compare yourself to others. Please remember the loving words of the Savior: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
So how do we do it? How do we find this peace, remember who we are, take off our masks, and overcome the traps of the adversary?
Ironically, alot of the same patterns and habits that we learn to apply to hear the Lord speak to us are the same as those that help us to ward off and stay safe from the adversary’s attacks. So another reason to be very vigilant in making and keeping those good habits. And remember that it is the 1% gains (being consistent with them) each day.
What I wanted to mention today and discuss a little is what I talked about earlier today.
Putting on the whole armor of God. This is something that you have to do ALL THE TIME. ALL DAY, EVERY DAY! You must do all the little things EVERY DAY! Sometimes more than just once a day. You MUST strive to keep yourself unspotted from the world. You must strive to live IN the world but not be OF the world. Notice I added the word “ strive”, because it’s important to remember that it’s an ongoing process. We don’t just adopt and keep habits overnight.
The adversary’s goal is to keep us focused on the distractions, the deception, the discouragement. He wants us to have doubts, be stressed out, feel rejected and left out…all the terrible things.
Those are all the fiery darts that he is throwing at us day in and day out. And President Nelson has said, and it has been repeated over and over, “… in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
So what is the armor of God. Well, let’s just break it down. I remember talking about this when I was in high school seminary. My teacher had an outline of a warrior all dressed up in every piece of the armor and we were to go through and label each piece with what it was guarding. And then we taped it to the inside of our scriptures in Ephesians 6:10-18 with a reference to Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
I remember watching a movie in seminary about warriors that were watching the woods. They had all the armor on and were super cautious. But at one point, one of the warriors got to a waterbed and took off his helmet to get a drink of water. The enemy was waiting for just such a moment and the arrow pierced him quickly. Luckily we are not facing those kinds of threats in our day and time. But the enemy is just as watchful and waiting for the moment that we let our guard down, to pounce.
However, I am comforted to know that I need not fear for He is with me, I know where and how to find the peace that only He can give.
Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63
I am confident that as I purposefully follow the commandments that I will not be led astray again. As I keep and maintain that 1% gains each day I am fortifying my armor.
Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve Apostles has been known to say, “If you read the Book of Mormon (and I might just add all scripture) every day, you will never fall away”.
Now, after talking about all of this, I’d like to just tie this all up in a tight little bow and tell you that if you just keep your habits strong that you will be fully protected. But you know it’s never that easy. And it’s funny how in each of these podcasts that I prepare, it seems like I have to go through my own little test, so to speak, of what I’m trying to share.
So of course last week I had a few days where the adversary got in and tried to use his biggest tool, that he uses with me personally. Which is discouragement. I started thinking, “Is this even worth it?” Does anyone even hear or get anything out of what I’m preparing?’ And for a while I just wanted to quit everything. Well not everything, but you know how when it rains it pours and you tend to just sit down in the middle of the puddle and get soaked?
But it wasn’t long before I remembered, this is Satan’s tool that he is using against me. So I looked at some of my habits. And quickly realized that I’d let a few things slide and that’s when he makes his move.
So this is where I want you to look at your life and see if you can find those patterns that seem to take you away from the good and solid habits that you’re working on daily. Is it deception, discouragement, distraction, rejection, busyness, stress, etc. See if there isn’t a way that you can start to fire back at the adversary using the contrast of those emotions. It’s not easy! The first part is recognizing that it’s even happening.
So my invitation to you today is to just start to notice. Just notice when things seem not quite how you’d like them to be. And then go back and look at what you can change by just 1% to ward off those fiery darts. I know you can do it. You’re strong, you’re capable and you’ve got the Lord on your side! With Him nothing is impossible. That’s it for today my friends. Remember, choose hope, choose joy and choose to stay! Talk to you all again soon!
Oh and if you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast.