“Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.” I like that translation of 1 Peter 5:8. A more common translation is, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” I like that the first translation I shared states, “Keep your mind clear.” There is a translation that states, “Control yourselves and be careful!” And another, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert.”
This verse came to mind today as I was reading about our Lord’s Passion, especially the part where the soldiers blindfolded Him and tormented Him asking Him to identify who had hit or spit on Him. Wouldn’t you agree it’s scary as all get out when we can’t see who or what is attacking us?!
Have you ever pondered our Lord blindfolded, beaten, and spit on by the soldiers? I do every year during Lent especially. It’s a tough meditation.
“In His darkened hour in the garden of Olives an angel came to comfort Him, but here, He saw naught but the cruel soldiers mocking and reviling Him. Even His enemies were shut off from Him by the dirty cloth with which He was blindfolded.”
–Reflections on the Passion
If I were given the chance to only keep a handful of books, the above book would be a no-brainer keep. I read it every year during Lent. The reflections are short enough to be completely manageable, yet so incredibly deep I find them coming to mind throughout the year for meditation.
I think the blindfolding of Jesus is such a tough meditation for me because I know how unsettling it can be when I can’t “see” my attacker. This attacker may be an anonymous, ugly commenter on The Littlest Way or a social media account. This attacker may be a “Well, I heard…” It may be a slight remark from my spouse or child that makes me think, “Whao! I had no idea there was a problem…and what’s their problem?!?”
For me though the worst attacks take place within–tricks my mind plays on me, lies my heart believes, and fiery darts that pummel me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Some days it feels like I’m wildly twisting and turning trying to discern where the attacks are coming from. And then my analytical brain goes into overdrive trying to figure out why. I can easily spend a lot of time trying to figure out the “Who” and “Why” of my attacks.
Have you ever suffered an anxiety attack? They are awful to the most awful degree! There are a couple of contributing factors to their ‘awfulness.’ First, they can attack out of nowhere. You don’t have to feel stressed, anxious, worried, anything like that and then KAPOW! Out of nowhere, you think you just might die.
Second, when you have the sensation or overwhelming feeling that you just might die right then and there, your body goes into full-on ‘fight or flight’. Suddenly every part of your body, all systems and structures are trying to save themselves or get ready to fight to the death.
If you’ve never suffered with an anxiety attack, can you even imagine what that must feel like? Can you image your entire mind, body, and soul preparing for a fight to the death or having to run for their lives?
(Note, I am most certainly not a doctor or medical professional although I do play one at midnight with feverish children. I am not diagnosing or treating you. I am sharing what has worked for me as I’ve battled anxiety.)
So, keeping all that in mind, the first step in combating an anxiety attack is recognizing the enemy. I do this by verbally saying, “I know what this is. This is just some out of the blue anxiety attack.” I am calling my enemy out into the light and giving it its proper name. I’m telling all systems in my body, “Don’t freak out! We know what this is. This will pass. And it will pass quicker if I don’t get all tangled up in it. Keep breathing.”
Then, not in these words exactly but in similar thought, I start applying all my training, much like someone in the military. They do drills and are trained upon training for a particular moment in time. Because of their extensive training, they can almost go into an autopilot mode to fight.
And what is my training? My daily affirmations, especially my Scripture affirmations. My training also includes routines I’ve put into place, things like daily (or almost daily) Bible reading, reading good books, and a consistent prayer routine.
If I can do anything in this post and offer any encouragement, my hope is that rather than wildly battle an unseen enemy we can learn to call our attacker into the light…and not so coincidentally, Who is the Light? Jesus!
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12