Last night I dreamt that I was wrestling with the Devil. He had taken human shape, and tried luring me into a corner, but I knew something was shady, so as soon as he showed his true face, I applied the principle that the best defence is a good offence, and I attacked him, telling him to his face “I hate you, because I love Love”.
Nevertheless, this is not the first time the Devil visits my dreams. It happened in my childhood, and it happened a few years back, during my studies in Leuven, when I discovered that prayer was my most trustworthy weapon and I learned the power of the ista’adha (Muslims start praying by seeking refuge to God, from Satan, the accursed).
During the past few months, Satan, and most precisely, his Fall from Heaven has been my favourite topic of reflection, dwelling into the range of emotions experienced by Lucifer in that instance (fear, guilt, as well as some of the Seven Deadly Sins – wrath, envy, pride). I also had the epiphany that the root-cause of his downfall was actually not erring, but rather disbelieving God’s infinite love and forgiveness.
Every once in a while, parents need to discipline their children, to teach them proper behaviour, and what the child perceives as punishment, does (or should) indeed come from a place of love, from a place of higher understanding, from a place of prevention of greater pain in the future. Yet children feel wronged – victims of injustice, they doubt their parents’ reason and judgement, and oftentimes their love.
The same happens when people refuse to accept the love given to them, or the love they feel. Denying the free flow of emotions, repressing what we feel, especially when we feel the uncomfortable things that make us grow, trying to sweep our soul-searching under the rug feels like trying to prevent water from boiling. You place a lid on top of the pot, but the water has immense strength. It starts seething, bubbling, steaming, sizzling, sputtering, trying to escape, trying to display its majesty. And what then? You turn off the heat. Take the pot off the stove. Put it far away, where it cannot boil, where it cannot make noise, where it cannot be inconvenient.
And you push away the “mirrors”. The people who, with a word, with a glimpse, see right through you, and make you confront your flaws, your imperfections, your errors. The people who make you grow. And you decide to remain the child who’s been grounded and feels misunderstood. Failing to realise that you ostracise yourself, that you bring upon a Hell of your own making, falling from Heaven over and over again, by failing to see love for what it truly is, by refusing to grab onto the arm stretched out to reach you, to catch you, to pull you back up, to pull you into a hug, to reassure you and to wave the flag of reconciliation. I have been that child, and I have been the mirror. It hurts, and it’s a struggle to be on either side.
Last time I solved the issue of the Devil visiting my dreams by understanding and coming to terms with whom I believed God was, so it’s only normal that I solve the same issue now by understanding and coming to terms with whom I believe Satan is. Turns out, Satan is the Child who fears growing, because he sees that as the equivalent of being outcast from Love. God is infinite love, and love is infinitely patient and forgiving. And if I’ve learned anything from the past few months spent at home with my family, the moment after you confront your fear of rejection and abandonment, the moment you recognise who the unnamed, unidentified enemy living within you is, you become invincible, and you discover that you feel stronger, safer and more loved than ever.
So, if Satan is there to hear me, I hope he knows that I forgive him, that I don’t hate him, because he can no longer make me doubt Love. I hope he finds peace, I hope he stops fueling his rage and resentment towards Love, I hope he stops fearing the great love he could receive, if only he reached out and deemed himself worthy of it.
And to you, fellow friend, struggling with inner demons, please know that there’s hope and light and Love on the other side, and it’s only a stretch of an arm away.