This One Is For Your Soul

Petrina Hicks, Antidote, 2015

Petrina Hicks, Antidote, 2015

By Carolyn Shields

It was one of those days.

Better yet, it was a Monday.

My whole attitude was bitter and irritable for no reason other than pms, but I felt like such a crab driving to confession and cursing at the drivers and swearing at the narrow streets of South Philly. Did you catch that? I was driving to confession. It's always a sketchy area too, and it wasn't long before I passed a guy shooting crack up his nose at 11am.

I was especially irritable about the non-fun parts of my job and why I had to do them. Why am I the one who has to find a random little chain at Lowes? Why do we never have card stock? Why am I so bloated? Why am I agonizing over a three dollar purchase? Why does my mouse always seem to die, and why do we never have batteries?

You get the picture.

I literally went home at 3pm with the intention to finish my day from my couch where it was safe and I wouldn't sour anyone's day because of my attitude. The day itself was good too! I went to confession, the sun was out, I played a game of extreme tug of war with my partner in the middle of the lobby, and I EVEN BOUGHT A BABY BOTTLE POP. But when I got home and pitched the six pieces of junk mail that clogged up my little mailbox into the trash, all addressed to past tenants, damn them, I threw on my ripped jeans and then literally hid under a blanket and watched ten minutes of New Girl.

I eventually took my head out from under my blanket. Mostly because it was hot.

Here's the thing though, I soon realized. Little things matter a lot to me. I've always been acute to them and really, really appreciative of little graces. My days are made when these details line up. An empty sink, a new library book, vanilla coffee creamer at work...they form this litany of praise and they're how God wins me over.

But I think the devil finally caught on. Satan is so manipulative. He doesn’t always use the obvious to draw you away from Holy. Sometimes we easily recognize lust, or envy, or whatever else we were taught in grade school. Our red flags go up. But his attacks are personal. He specializes in studying us. There’s a scene in Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis where a man is contemplating beauty at an art gallery, and Satan sees this and realizes it’s not good because beauty will lead us to Christ, right? So instead, Satan makes the man aware of the grumblings of his stomach, and suddenly, all the man can think about is how hungry he is.

Shoot, man.

That’s shrewd. But if we know this, we can recognize his workings and stop it from seeping into our habits. That, and the knowledge that if we give him an inch—an inch—he’s going to draw it out into miles. One tipsy kiss could lead you down a dark road fast. Caving once on your Lenten promise could be the end of it.

So for me? He’s preying on those little things that can mean a lot to me, but he’s been shifting my focus from flowers on my bathroom sink, homemade bread, and a nice jog to whining about bad drivers, an empty fridge, and a bad stench.

No, when we recognize this, we won’t be able to stop his advances immediately, but two can play this game. And by two, I mean him and the One who already won. Because you’re the battlefield, sweet woman. You may get hurt in this war, but there’s healing to be found in the confessional in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

So. I got up from the couch and started my day anew…at four pm in the afternoon.