I appreciate when an article inspires one of our writers to continue a conversation. This vignette was sent in to me by Jenn after she read a reflection by Abby a few weeks ago. It is such a profound concept, I love revisiting it. Thanks for this, Jenn. ~Eden
I don’t often play piano for our church services – there are only a few songs that I play, and only play them occasionally. Recently I played a song for our Easter worship service. It’s a fun song–quite up-beat once it gets going. I know it well enough that I’m prone to having my mind wander while playing it, if I’m not careful. On this particular Sunday, it was going well, I was staying with it, until about two-thirds of the way through the piece when I just completely up and drew a blank. I knew exactly where I was in the piece, I just couldn’t think of what came next – and even when I looked at the sheet music (which I hadn’t been following), …they were just dots on the page. I might’ve been able to pick up where I left off, but I wanted to find and pick up where I ought to be, had I kept playing, which of course kept moving further and further along in the song.
The congregation managed to pick up and keep singing, and I eventually did start playing again, towards the end, and fortunately finished on somewhat of a good note (literally!), however I had completely and utterly dropped the ball!! Woah; serious fail. My usual reaction would be to immediately plunge into the depths of despair, feeling like a COMPLETE LOSER and failure but somehow, from Somewhere, I just knew that it was the hells who wanted me to feel that way, who wanted me to feel worthless and like an epic failure. I knew it was them, and I knew that this whole piano business was (is) just something of this world, something so superficial and non-game-changing, something I should not get down over. I had a couple of brief moments of ‘plunging’, but they passed really quickly, and I did not get down on myself, did not feel upset for the whole rest of that day. Woah!! It wasn’t that I felt elated or anything, I just didn’t feel….. down. That in itself was pretty amazing.
Not only had I failed to succeed, I had failed in order to succeed.
“[Evil spirits] act in similar ways against the affections for truth that constitute conscience. As soon as they become aware of anything, whatever the nature of it, that is a constituent part of that conscience, they mould an affection out of the falsities and weaknesses that exist with that person, and by means of that affection they dim the light of truth and so pervert it, or else they cause him anxiety and torment. In addition to this they keep his thought firmly fixed on one single thing; and they fill that thought with delusions, at the same time secretly incorporating evil desires within those delusions. Besides this they use countless other devices which cannot possibly be described so as to be understood. These are a few of the ways – and only very general ones – by which they are able to get at a person’s conscience, which above all else they take the greatest delight in destroying.
These few, indeed very few, observations show the nature of temptations – in general that the nature of a person’s temptations is as the nature of his loves. They also show the nature of the Lord’s temptations, that these were the most dreadful of all, for as is the intensity of the love so is the dreadfulness of the temptations. The Lord’s love – a most ardent love – was the salvation of the whole human race; it was therefore a total affection for good and affection for truth in the highest degree. Against these all the hells contended, employing the most malicious forms of guile and venom, but the Lord nevertheless conquered them all by His own power. Victories have this effect, that after they have been won, wicked genii and spirits do not dare to attempt anything; for their life consists in their being able to destroy, but when they perceive that a person is able to withstand them, they flee even when they are making their first assault, as they usually do when they draw near to merely the threshold of heaven. They are straightaway gripped with horror and dread and hurl themselves back in retreat.” Arcana Coelestia 1820.4-5