"Oh by the way, now that you're here, the devil is probably gonna beat the snot out you so just carry on."
He was right. I did get tested. I almost gave up and I saw others deal with trials as well. Some of it was bureaucratic and some of it was personal. This stuck with me and made me somewhat reluctant in my faith journey. Knowing I'd be harassed simply because I was a Christian and that the devil would constantly try and trip me up was unsettling. I really did not want to bring attention to myself and become a target for Satan. But when you're a Christian that is exactly what is happening. Particularly when deepening one's faith.
For me, I noticed when I would pray- particularly the Rosary- disturbing images and thoughts would pop into my mind. I would look at a picture of Jesus and an expletive popped into my head. I mentioned this to a priest and he told me it was actually quite normal for that to happen and that even Saints experienced this. He said to think of it like naughty children throwing tantrums and banging the pots and pans while you're trying to concentrate. He said just to keep praying and not to let it stop me. Interestingly enough after my conversation with that priest, things settled down.
Now that some bigger trials have been coming in, I notice the devil is at it again. Concerns over my little boy have been on my mind. I've been turning it over to Jesus and enlisting the intercession of Mary. As I usually do when I'm troubled and vulnerable, I went to the chapel to be in His Presence. I had my usual conversation and wrote down what I believed to be Jesus' words. I felt at peace and got a boost of courage and hope. I marveled at how spending time in this little room containing the Blessed Sacrament could make such a difference. I felt lifted up and confident that everything would be o.k. But then I went home and then the doubts started to settle back in. I heard in my head that it wasn't Jesus speaking to me and I can't count on it being Him. It's just wishful thinking. Things are hopeless. Life will be unbearable. Give up. He's not talking to you. You're deluded. You're a fool...
These thoughts rolled into my head. Terror and despair took over. I kept telling my self to just offer it up to Jesus. Just turn it over to Him. I pleaded to Him and I felt desperate. Darkness settled in and things seemed so bleak. I didn't sleep well and when I finally did I had a nightmare. My house was haunted and the spirits were rattling the furniture. I ignored them at first and my children were playing in my room where the haunted activity was happening. Finally the drawer of my nightstand flew off. I told my children it was time to leave the room. We walked out and I heard a menacing voice taunting me.
"Oh, so you ARE AFRAID OF ME!"
I stopped at the doorway and turned around. My first thought was to tell it to go
"IN THE NAME OF JESUS, I BIND YOU TO THE FOOT OF THE CROSS!"
I was so forceful that I woke while saying it. I looked over to my husband to make sure I didn't wake him up. I was a bit shaken but also too tired and I went back to sleep. I shared the dream with a close friend and she got goosebumps. Her goosebumps usually mean something other worldly happened. The feelings of hopelessness and despair and the subsequent nightmare of my house being haunted all had something to do with Satan messing with me. I've experienced this before where I was in deep despair for no apparent reason and then that night I would have a nightmare of my house being haunted and furniture moving. It didn't occur to me before that the devil was involved but now I know better. The devil wants us to give up. He wants us afraid of him and so we must not fear him. I know this is one thing I have to work on. He wanted me to be afraid and taunted me thinking he won. In my nightmare I overcame my fear and casted him out.
(Edited to add: I realized later on where I stood at our bedroom doorway just happens to be where our crucifix hangs.)
I think of a quote from St. Teresa of Avila and I hope one day I'll be as fearless as she was.
I feared them (the demons) so little, that the terrors, which until now oppressed me, quitted me altogether; and though I saw them occasionally, — I shall speak of this by and by, — I was never again afraid of them — on the contrary, they seemed to be afraid of me. I found myself endowed with a certain authority over them, given me by the Lord of all, so that I cared no more for them than for flies. They seem to be such cowards; for their strength fails them at the sight of any one who despises them. These enemies have not the courage to assail any but those whom they see ready to give in to them, or when God permits them to do so, for the greater good of His servants, whom they may try and torment.