Burnt out on the Spiritual Drug

It always started with a strange crawling sensation in my scalp. I would see colors and textures flashing in front of my eyes, and then I would hear the voices. I could never understand what they were saying, but they were always angry. Loud angry voices, screaming at me in my head. Sometimes they would get so loud, that it was difficult to hear anything going on around me.

It happened the first time when I was eight years old, and after it came back two or three times over the period of a month, I tried to explain to my Dad what was happening.

Dad listened, and then told me very seriously that this was spiritual. Satan was trying to attack me. He knew because he experienced spiritual attack many times before. He also told me that I had always been spiritually sensitive, and remembered a time when I was a toddler and had woke up screaming in the middle of the night. Apparently, I had run into the living room, and when my parents tried to comfort me I acted as though I was afraid of them. I ran away screaming towards the window, and then recoiled from the glass as if I saw something outside the window. The only thing that had calmed me down was when my Dad rebuked Satan in the name of Jesus, then I had relaxed.

He told me that it was very important that I never try to communicate with these voices, or even try to understand what they were saying. And if it happened again I could come and tell him and as my spiritual authority he would pray for me. I continued hearing the voices from time to time, and I would always go to my Dad who would pray over me rebuking Satan, and every time the voices would go away.

It got more frequent when I was a teen. It would come on so suddenly, and it was often so intense that I felt as though I was going to black out. I would try to pray it away by myself, and sometimes the voices would recede, but most of the time it required the prayer of my Dad. I asked my parents why Satan was after me, and I was told that it could be because I was the oldest child in our family, Satan always wants to get the oldest child. I also had to be careful that I wasn’t opening the door to let Satan in, as long as I stayed obedient to my parents in every way, dressed modestly, never listened to worldly music or read worldly books, I would remain under the umbrella of spiritual protection from my father. If I was rebelling, that was like inviting the devil in.

It got a little better after I got married, but I would still wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety, nightmares, and the voices. I would wake up my husband (since he was now my spiritual protection) and ask him to pray for me. And usually, it would go away.

In the last 18 months, these episodes have gotten fewer and fewer until they stopped entirely. Actually, I’m not even sure when the last time was. I’m not even afraid of it happening anymore. I find myself wondering what it was in the first place. If my parents were correct, and it was spiritual, these attacks should have been increasing. The last two years I have been the least religious I have ever been. Yes, I still go to church (I am the Pastor’s wife after all) but I read very little Bible, pray infrequently, and I’ve questioned the very existence of God. Surely I would be at my most vulnerable at this point in my life?

***********************

My parents talked about God and God’s will all the time. Everything that they did was attributed to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The only reason anyone else did anything differently, was because they hadn’t opened themselves to the Spirit the way my parents had.

I was kind of in awe of my Dad’s spiritual power. My Dad often shared stories of his experiences with God. As a child he had heard God’s voice, been miraculously healed, seen visions, gotten miraculous signs and had prophetic dreams. Dad talked about possible outcomes of future events based on his interpretations of the book of Revelation, he had dreams from God, and he often interpreted my own dreams for me. If only I could have a connection with God like he did.

In my teens, I wanted so badly to have the certainty of God’s love. I remember reading Nicki Cruz’s “Run Baby Run” at age 17 and being blown away by the spiritual encounters he had with God. If only I was able to experience that type of connection with God, then I would be able to feel His love. I told my mom about the book, and she expressed her happiness that God was calling me into a deeper relationship with Him, and told me that her faith life had grown so much when she received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I asked if she had ever received the gift of tongues? Yes, she had, and according to her she often prayed in tongues. I wanted this more than anything I had ever wanted in my entire life.

So I prayed. I fasted. I read and meditated on book after book of my bible. I have a journal of written prayers from that time begging God to draw me closer to him, to help me open myself up to a deeper relationship with Him, to help me to feel His love.

And nothing happened. It was only because I wasn’t open enough right? It certainly couldn’t be God’s fault, it had to be mine. I couldn’t understand why God ignored me. Was it the sin in my life? I was truly trying to submit to my parents and live as godly as I could. I was spending all of my free time searching after him. I was begging him on my knees and on my face, often crying with frustration. Nothing. No warm feelings of God’s presence, no outpouring of God’s spirit, no connection. Not even relief from the “spiritual attacks” that plagued me.

I wasn’t good enough for God. Despite all the ways my parents hurt me, they had God’s blessing and involvement in their lives, God must agree with their criticisms of me, or surely he would respond. I felt so ashamed of being such a “bad christian”. Eventually (after many months) I gave up. I still prayed, and read the word, but I had accepted that I was not going to have a spiritual anointing from God.

***********************

I don’t see charismatic spiritual experience as part of a relationship with God anymore. I think it might be more based on someone’s personality than someone’s relationship with God. Spiritual experience certainly isn’t confined by a certain expression of Christianity. People of all faiths claim to have these anointed, out-of-body, drunk in the spirit, filled with God’s love/presence type of experiences. I think some people have these surreal experiences and others don’t, it has nothing to do with how close they are to God.

I’ve had these warm loving spiritual moments very rarely, (I describe what I consider to be one of them here) if my relationship with God is to measured by my spiritual feelings or experiences, I’ve only had “real” relationship with God a handful of times in my life. Right now? I don’t feel like I have the answers I used to. I still want to believe God is there, and that He is loving. But I am no longer waiting for Him to reveal Himself to me a relational way. If I continue to believe in God, it isn’t because of emotional connection with that God. God isn’t waiting for me to open up enough, or surrender enough, or obey enough, before He makes His presence known in my life. I can’t live my faith life seeking one elusive spiritual high after another, and feeling spiritually dry and starved for God in between.

I believe that all people are worthy of love and acceptance regardless of who they are or what they do. I believe that I can make a difference in the lives of the people around me. And I hold onto my faith not by having warm loving feelings of relationship, but by hoping that there could be something beyond this earth and this life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09971244496160164955 Musings on Motherhood and Ministry

    You are amazingly brave for sharing this personal part of yourself with us, YoungMom. I personally think there should be MUCH more discernment before things inside our head are abscribed to God or Satan. Looking at it from the outside in, your voices seem to me more like mental health issues that could be linked to your upbringing, and they have receded because, well, you are healthier now – you have made a break. For which I thank God.

    You are right, I think, in that charismatic experience is not necessary. Some people have it. Some people don't – they have other ways of learning about God. It can become a badge of honour. There is a fine line between experiential knowledge of God and mental illness. Examine the topic of schizophrenia, for example.

    Given what I read of you, I am amazed how well you have survived (not unscathed, but you have survived) your upbringing. And you have made changes to allow your children to have a different life than you had. I believe God's hand is in that, and I know that's open to question with you. But I think sometimes He has to end our suffering because it's too much to bear. That you can share your experiences to educate and help others is an absolute gift to you, and from you.

    Faith is continuing to believe in Him even when we don't feel He is there. I think your time of questioning is essential as you deconstruct all those 'truths' your family branded onto you. Whether or not you return to faith, I wish you well on your journey.

  • Anonymous

    So brave of you to share these thoughts many keep only to themselves out of fear or shame. Thank you for your writing – I will keep reading. I wish the best for you.
    Dawn

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08135229596877003069 Michelle

    This is quite an outpouring. My feelings are kind of jumbled. My first inclinaton is that my mother has claimed on some occasions in my life to have some kind of charismatic experiences…but I find myself doubting that those were real the more I know her as an adult. Additionally, while I'm sure there's a place for charismatic spirituality in Christianity…I'm usually fairly grateful for my faith's skeptical treatment of such things (for example…private revelations and public revelations are reviewed extensively when reported to through the Catholic Church magesterium). It's not that we ought to NEVER believe that private/public revelations don't take place, but that we must always approach such things with great caution.

    I have no idea what you might have been hearing. I had scary things start happening for me when I was 13…I would wake in the middle of the night and think that I heard someone breathing heavily in my room. This was amplified one day when I came home from school to find playing cards laid face down in perfect paths through the house…splitting at the top of the stairs to go into each room and stopping at closet doors. It was very strange and sometimes when I think back I wonder if I was dreaming…but I know it was real. These occurrences ended when my mom moved our family halfway across the country…but it still bugs me from time to time. I literally thought someone was in our house that was not supposed to be there…but I never saw anyone, only heard the breathing and witnessed the strange things on occasion (another strange thing was when it sounded as though pebbles were dropping into a pipe of some sort…slowly. and one more was when pages of a book were turning, slowly as though someone were looking for something in a book).

    Anyway…I guess I share just to say, that I don't know if it was Satan in my life at that time or if it was some other negative "force" or if it was my head playing tricks on me. I do know that I was vulnerable spiritually since my parents were divorced and my mother was not helping us stay close to God through our faith at the time.

    I often get frustrated by people who claim to have all this interaction one-to-one with God because I feel like sometimes they use it to say, "I'm blessed…if you were better you would be blessed, too" and I think that is wrong. If God chooses to interact with us in our Earthly lives in a physical way, that IS a gift, but as we can see through the crucifixion and resurrection…that gift would be FREELY given…just like our salvation and there would be no way to earn it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05659143242634568450 Me

    Thank you for being incredibly open and sharing these experiences. I also grew up in a home where everything bad or frightening was from Satan, and everything good and charismatic was from God. There were no medical or logical explanations for anything. Psychology was from the devil. Listening to secular music,watching unapproved shows on TV, or reading secular books opened yourself up to demonic oppression and possession. It was imperative that you "plead the blood of Jesus as a hedge of protection" over yourself and your household every day, or you were open to demonic attack. And, if you didn't speak in tongues, there was some sin in your life keeping you separated from the Holy Spirit.

    It took me years to find the truth, grace, and to recover from the years of living in fear. It sounds like you are well on your way to discovering the beauty of God, as opposed to the fear of living everyday wondering how God feels about you.

    I've been enjoying reading your posts!

  • Rebecca in CA

    "Faith is the evidence of things unseen; the substance of things hoped for." You are right; your relationship with God and His love for you and cherishing of you has nothing to do with emotional states or special experiences. In fact, these types of "experiences" can be more ego-centered than anything else. St. Teresa of Avila, the great mystic, considers those who do not seek signs and wonders but are content to walk in faith and often spiritual aridity, to be the most blessed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05598890631695015818 Pippi

    I think your parents were halfway right. They just had the cure a bit skewed. My husband has had many satanic experiences in his life, mostly as a child, not surprising given the nature of the abuse he suffered. He once told me that he only believes in God because he knows Satan is real. And he says that I protect him. I can't vouch for that.

    But a year or so back I began to have very vivid dreams of being stalked and menaced by evil spirits. I knew that Satan was after Mark at the time; not long before that I had changed my plan for having my younger son baptized and had it done sooner, with a different person officiating than the one I had hoped for, because I became convinced that he needed the protection of having been dedicated. So I did not resist the dreams, but merely filed them away as important warnings. After a while, though, it began to really interfere with my sleep and I would not want to go to bed at night. I mentioned it to my Mom and she asked if I had prayed for the dreams to stop. I hadn't, because for some reason I thought God was sending them. After I thought about it, I decided that it was interfering with my health and God wouldn't want that. So I prayed. They stopped immediately.

    Mark says that I am protected because of this covenant I signed when I was about 9 years old. It was written up by the woman who controlled my mother for so long. I had forgotten all about it. When he said that, it upset me, because I started thinking maybe there were things in it that I no longer believed, such as rules about dress or political activism. To my surprise, however, when I went back to read it, there was none of the self-righteous, cult-ish side of what I was raised with. It made me very happy to find that out. Maybe he's right, I don't know; but it left a big impression on me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05598890631695015818 Pippi

    @Michelle – It sounds to me like your new house was haunted. I do believe in that.

  • grace

    I could share so much from this post but can't do it all at once.

    At one time in my life I suffered from mental illness-severe post-partum anxiety and depression. I was treated with a high dose of an antidepressant-shortly after being placed on this drug I developed very violent vivid repetative thoughts of harming myself. Someone suggested SATAN. Of course it must be satan. I wish someone had taken the time to look at the side effects of this medication they would have seen violent suicidal thoughts listed–after coming off of this medication (and feeling better) I figured that out.

    I understand where you are coming from. I see similiar types of unhealthy behavior in members of the (Catholic) church I belong too. I worry about their kids and how they are ever going to overcome the stuff that is laid on them in the name of faith. I believe so strongly in fostering emotional and psychological health in raising our children with faith.

    I hope you can find healing from your past and someday a healthy relationship with God.

  • Rebecca in CA

    Priests who are exorcists will have a psychologist who accompanies them, who can help figure out whether something unusual going on has natural causes or supernatural. Often it is natural.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05354424704358588553 lissla lissar

    I don't have anything useful to say about the scary experiences, except that I'm glad they're receding. I did want to say that I get argumentative when I hear people claiming that emotion or experience means that they're better Christians. I grew up charismatic Anglican (almost an oxymoron), with lots of emotionalism, but using the Book of Common Prayer, which is very liturgical, and except for a brief period in my teens I have always preferred the structure of liturgy to charismatic worship. I think emotional experiences of God are lovely, but they are not proof of devotion, and not something to base your faith around.

    I was very happy when I learned that the Catholic Church calls them 'spiritual consolations'. Not the be-all and end-all, just private gifts from God. Not proof of greater holiness.

    Trying, as a teen, to 'feel' right during worship was crippling. If you don't feel right, does that mean that you're full of sin? That you don't love God enough? It's a form of scrupulosity which turns you from trusting God, and giving him whatever you have, to judging yourself and worrying. I much prefer to pray prayers that are set, that I don't have to muster up an emotional response for, and trust that through the action of turning to God He is perfecting me without me having to worry about my emotional state.

    This is turning into an incoherent novel. Stopping now.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17592869961433973844 be

    Your post made me realize that I also have nearly stopped having nightmares, sleep paralysis, terrifying experiences, and altered mental states since distancing myself from my religious upbringing. Our church wasn't charismatic and there wasn't much all that much emphasis on the supernatural, but I think children have a way of emphasizing the supernatural for themselves. It's not unreasonable to be afraid when you've been told that demons can enter and attack your mind, that your soul is at stake in these encounters, and that you may have already experienced this kind of attack. What an incredible burden of fear! A more general sense of anxiety is still an issue for me but with help, it's getting better.

  • A

    Hi Young Mom, this is Commenter "A" from A Deeper Story. Thank you for writing this post and letting me know when it was up.

    Thank you so much for being so willing to share about your experiences. I want to honor the courage I see that is required for you to "un-learn" so many things you learned in your family as a child. I am inspired by how you are working through this with such honesty.

    Having read about your struggles with perfectionism (and having my own struggles with this), I see perfectionism in what your parents taught about spiritual experience—if you can just be perfect enough, you’ll have the proper experience of God and you’ll be free from all doubt. I firmly believe this type of thought process is a lie.

    I agree with you that there is an element of personality involved in one’s experience of spirituality (and I am the type of person who is not "prone" to spiritual experiences, having had very few and even these were not extremely "intense").

    Your comparison of seeking one spiritual experience after another to a "drug" reminded of a post Jen at Conversion Diary wrote titled "He is not a means, and our joy is not the end." In her post, she included this quote from a book by Peter Kreeft: "We are so addicted to our own positive experiences of joy and happiness that if we experienced Christ more joyfully than we do, we would almost inevitably come to love our experience of Christ more than Christ Himself. We would come to worship our experience, that is, ourselves."

    I think this discussion at A Deeper Story and now here, reveals a desire for permission to have whatever experience it is that one has, not forcing any one kind of experience, but respecting all types of experiences as real and valid. I think we get into trouble when we start telling ourselves or others that we “should” be feeling differently than we actually do. This happens very often though, because honesty takes a lot of courage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09895441887701955298 David T.

    I agree completely with those who have said that it was distancing yourself from your religious upbringing that helped end your negative experiences.
    It is a subject that deserves more time and thought: charismaticism is more than tongues, it can be the simple pride in saying one is in fellowship with spirit more than another. In this way legalistic fundamentalism is just as much charismatic as any Pentecostal group, but in a different way.
    @Pippi: Curious statement about believing in God because one is sure there is a Satan. Never thought about it that way before…

  • http://www.flatheadmama.blogspot.com Rebecca

    I really relate to your description of faith growing up. Partly from influences, partly from my own scrupulous nature, I sought the same kind of feelings and "absolute commitment" you did. Including the speaking in tongues thing.

    I still believe some people have the gift of speaking in tongues. I no longer believe I do. In charismatic churches, there is so much babbling and pretending in order to fit in and be a "really committed" Christian, when all along, Paul said, "Do ALL speak in tongues??" implying, "No!"

    In my teen years, I went into a full on, rigorous attempt to be perfect for two years. Never felt good enough. Tried so hard. It was exhausting. It was partly anxiety and depression, partly the influences in my life.

    It was at this time that I was "converted" to the Lutheran church through the story and teachings of Martin Luther. I so related to Luther's tortured struggles for perfection (which did at times continue even after his conversion). I was so attracted to his view of faith that was fully centered on God's grace.

    I still struggle with the perfectionism, the obsessive scrupulosity. Sometimes I wonder why I must struggle with so many dark nights of the soul. I read a book by Dr. Dobson once called Emotions: Can You Trust Them? He pointed out that even in our faith life, emotions are not what we should rely on, because they naturally go up and down. That helped me a lot.

    Thanks for your continued honesty.

    What if the life of faith is not finding perfection and emotional bliss but being carried by Jesus, even when we cannot walk?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09895441887701955298 David T.

    Another subject you bring up that warrants further investigation is the fact that so many of us spend so much time trying to live like the Pharisees that it profoundly affects our faith walk. We truly believed they had the answers, whether it was because they were our parents, or our trusted mentors, or perhaps we just stood in awe of their seeming spiritual daring-do. Yet we committed the mistake of comparing ourselves among ourselves. It's sort of like a discouraged pastor of a smaller church adopting the practices of a bigger church he knows about in a bid for growth, even though it is not wise.
    Another reason some people follow the Pharisees is because of fear. I see this most amongst the KJVO variety. Once your head has been filled all the "missing verses" in the "Satanic" new age Bibles your consicence is defiled. And so it is with other shibboleths of the Pharisees.
    Unfortunately, those who follow the Pharisees out of fear eventually become Pharisees themselves, because insecurity begets control.
    It's all much worse when your parents are Pharisees. Parents fear for their children's future anyway; couple that with the Pharisee's core insecurity over God (right relationship requires particular holiness codes) and you get lots of helicopter/over-protective parenting that's also spiritually stifling and possibly deadly.
    My Christianity (especially as it comes into contact with the institutionalized church) is one of fighting the power of legalism. While the average Joe sits in the pew demanding APPLICATION and RELEVANT TEACHING he is implicitly saying that he wants no more of studying the word of God but to just lay out rules for a good life. Even something as simple as a sermon series on "How to Raise Your Kids" lends itself to step-making and rule-making which spells legalism.

  • grace

    "Priests who are exorcists will have a psychologist who accompanies them, who can help figure out whether something unusual going on has natural causes or supernatural. Often it is natural. "

    Rebecca, I'm not sure if you were responding to what I wrote. No one thought I needed an exorcism. My Catholic friends were concerned that satan was influencing my thoughts. Unfortunately my psychiarist was not wise enough to put the 2 together and read the stinkin side effects.

    There are many things I love about being Catholic but in reading young mom's experience I see parallels between her experience and my experience as a Catholic. People use satan as an excuse left and right. I don't deny the existance of evil but I think the more people embrace religious fundamentalism (whether Catholic or not) the more pyscholoigcal help they need. From what I see my Catholic fellow believers could use a great deal of psychological intervention to be the whole person God wants them to be.

    Having been someone who needed psychological help and got it I can say it made a world of difference in my ability to serve God effectively and with my intelligence.

    (this is a general statement not a personal one to you–I don't even know you…) I just know that the issues young mom describes are present in the Catholic church too and if her interest in Catholicism grows she should be aware of this.

    I know some fundamenalists that become Catholic and sometimes they just transfer all the unhealthy issues to their place in a different denomination

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15454965172669677301 Bethany

    I read your posts and can relate to each one so much it makes my head spin (figuratively… not in an Exorcist way, since we're on the subject and all… :P). I have grown very cynical about both charismatic anointings and demonic activity though I was raised on a diet of both. We were Southern Baptists, but a charismatic branch, and our church was always hosting revival services in which you could line up to be "slain in the Spirit" or have a holy laughing attack. All I know for sure is this: It wasn't God who knocked me over during those services.

    Our church was also borderline obsessed with demons. We did a Sunday School unit study on them when I was in 5th grade that would have been sufficient in itself to terrify me… but my dad went one step further by bringing home books of demon anecdotes. One night sometime later, my dad claimed that a demon showed up in their bedroom and tried to strangle him but stopped when my mom danced before the Lord. Weird, weird, terrifying stuff. I have unrelenting nightmares to this day each time I visit their house.

    I don't know that I believe it though. I think the human brain is powerful and often underestimated by conservative Christians, and I think that the kind of fear you and I grew up with can really mess with our senses of reality. I'm not denying the fear or the undeniable reality of evil in our world… but demons chattering out loud in your head? Demons strangling my dad? I have just as much trouble believing that as I do believing that God shows up at church at a scheduled time to knock people down upon request. (Same with speaking in tongues; nobody seems to remember that the "tongues" in the New Testament were real, translatable languages and not some private mode of communication with God.)

    What I do believe in are the tiny, seemingly insignificant personal touches that help us feel heard and loved, like the clock your aunt sent… small confirmations that don't change the world or affect natural consequences (I'm wholeheartedly agreeing with your recent post about prayer here) but reach our hearts nonetheless.

  • Rebecca in CA

    Grace, I agree with you completely. I'm not sure why I brought up that point–I guess I want to say that those who really "know what they're doing" in the Catholic Church recognize a distinction between the natural and the supernatural. I agree with you that there is a lot of "fundamentalism" within the Catholic Church–mistrust of psychology as an entire field, etc…part of the problem is that especially in America, our anscestors were mostly puritans, and that really carries through, even if we become Catholic. I've had to shed a lot of stuff in my approach to parenting, my approach to myself, and everything else.

    With my kids, I'm really trying to strike a balance and although I teach them that demons are real, and present, and have an agenda, their guardian angels are way more powerful. Demons can't touch us without the consent of our will so we have nothing to fear from them. Teresa of Avila is very good at having a scornful attitude towards demons, though they went so far as to physically attack her. Anyway, I think it's good to emphasize that we are in God's hands, not Satan's, especially with small children.

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org ‘Becca

    I am so glad that these attacks, whatever they are, have gone away! I agree that there is most likely a psychological component related to your upbringing.

    However, there might be a physical cause, too, in which case it may happen again but less frequently. Read up on migraines. Did you ever have a headache during or shortly after one of these attacks? Even if you didn't, there are forms of migraine that are painless and have only sensory and/or mood symptoms. The crawling sensation on your scalp and the visual flashing sound like migraine symptoms, and auditory hallucinations are a rare but recognized migraine symptom. Migraines often are linked to shifts in hormone levels; this started when you were 8 (a typical age for the first hormonal changes in girls who show obvious puberty around 10) and got more frequent when you were a teenager; was there any pattern related to your cycle or pregnancies? Migraines are more common in perfectionists.

    Because migraine is a disruption of blood circulation in the brain, it can have psychological as well as physical symptoms. I have had migraines for years and am slowly coming to understand that the trouble starts well before the pain, and sometimes I never reach the pain stage. I have never literally heard voices, but I have come to recognize a sensation that I've personified as a little demon on my shoulder (like in cartoons) who gleefully whispers, "Don't tell!" as he pokes his pitchfork behind my ear. It gets worse, but I won't do anything to help myself; I keep pushing myself to do everything perfectly and tell no one about this demon who, though he may be evil and hurting me, is somehow my special secret promising me power. Explaining that makes me feel insane! But it is a very vivid feeling of being partly controlled by an experience I simultaneously dread and crave. I don't think it really IS a demon. I think it's something that physically happens in my brain to challenge me: Will I choose to go wrong, again, granting myself rest only when I reach unbearable pain, or will I stop and heed this sign that I need to take better care of myself?

  • Anonymous

    My oldest son was also tormented by the devil. I had to have my husband (his step-dad) pray over him and cast out satan from our house. I would think since you are questioning God, etc. that you have already let him in therefore he doesn't torment you anymore since he has a hold of you.. get it? If you were to get back into God's word, etc. then he might torment you again. But, in my research it seems he goes after the young far more than the adults. Satan wants us to question God, etc. I would say get back in the Word and stay there!! Ever since the ordeal with my son I will always try my best to stay on God's side. If only people realized how evil the evil one really is.. sickening to see our children tormented!! He feeds on the weak/young.

  • Emily

    I wasn't going to comment, but then I read the last comment (how I wish the last commenter were kidding!) and that provoked me enough. Seriously? He feeds on the weak/young? And youngmom has peace because she's in the devil's grip? That is such nonsense. AND it's a perfect argument to not get "back into God's word.

    But anyway, I do have more substantial things to say. I actually had similar experiences growing up. They were terrifying. I never told my parents about them and my parents actually didn't talk too much about the devil. All those scary ideas came from my crazy aunt who was into apparitions and "end times" crap. You put that kind of stuff into children's heads and their imaginations will run wild. My fearful demonic-like dreams lasted until I had my first child. I think it might have something to do with a) feeling safe with my husband right there and b) having a baby really preoccupied my mind.

    I also have a question, were these dreams? Did they happen as you were trying to fall asleep? Or was it something that would randomly happen at any time during the day when you wide awake? If it was while you were trying to fall asleep or waking up, there's a name for that: sleep paralysis. Your body shuts down before your mind does and you can have hallucinations (like demons attacking or alien abductions). I always noticed that if I was especially exhausted, they would happen more often.

    I actually just watched a Nova Documentary on Netflix called "What Are Dreams?" that I found very helpful. There's a section on nightmares that talks about the difference between children's and adults' nightmares. It's very fascinating.

    You also mentioned fasting. I wonder if that contributed as well? I can't imagine being hungry and exhausted helped, anyway. People who are sleep derived can experience some crazy things. And it does make sense that your mind would focus on fears that kept getting drilled into your head.

    It is downright disgusting what people tell their children about the devil. To be Christian is to be a child of the Light. "once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light" Eph 5:8. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" Seriously, there are hundreds of light quotes in the Bible, not to mention all the passages about not fear anything! Fixating on darkness is absurd.

    Anyway, I'm really glad that things are getting better for you, and I hope I'm not being offensive with my hypotheses and questions about what you may have been experiencing. I'm just curious :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    I wasn’t planning on commenting on this post at all, still a bit touchy for me and I don’t want to get dragged into a debate. But I wanted to thank everyone for sharing their own experiences and encouragement.

    I haven’t actually had this feeling of spiritual oppression in months. I still get the occasional nightmare, but I feel more free and safe than ever before. I think being free from legalism and getting out of perfectionism has contributed in a big way.

    I wanted to answer a few of the questions people asked.

    Becca- I do not remember having headaches tied to the experiences, and I haven’t noticed a huge increase during pregnancies. I think it may have been heavily tied to depression, since I do remember having it happen with more frequency the more depressed I was? The possible tie to physical causes is very interesting to me.

    Emily- I wish she were kidding too. And like you said, if this is being in the grip of the devil, I’ll take it! ;) I have heard of sleep paralysis and I’ve had that type of thing a few times. However, the voices and spiritual attack feelings usually came randomly at any point during the day, I remember it hitting hard while putting clothes in the wash machine one time for example. I think it could be tied to physical exhaustion as well as emotional stress. I’m not sure. I do still have the occasional nightmare, but the spiritually oppressive waking experiences have stopped completely in the last 18 months.

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org ‘Becca

    When migraines are linked to female hormones, the typical pattern is FEWER migraines during pregnancy, possibly one soon after giving birth, then few until the baby begins weaning, at which point they gradually increase. (That's what happened to me.) Some women have worse migraines after every subsequent baby.

    On the other hand, some women's migraines have no hormonal triggers at all. Allergies are another common trigger–a friend of mine is allergic to perfume, for example.

    Anyway, if this ever happens to you again, try taking 400mg of ibuprofen with a big cup of coffee. That can stop it in its tracks by changing circulation in the brain.

  • http://www.badchristian.org Sean R Reid

    A friend from a Facebook group shared this post in response to a discussion I started regarding the topic of Spiritual Warfar.

    To read your experiences and your parent's (irresponsible, even if justified in their minds) response makes me shudder in fear.

    I live with clinical depression and, after many years of counseling and behavior modification therapy, finally sought out medical solutions. Currently I am on medicine for ADD and mood stabilizers. Simply put, I struggled for the better part of my life with significant mental health issues caused by severe chemical imbalances. I will be on medicine for the rest of my life.

    The most interesting part is that the medical solutions came at a time when I had recently converted to Christianity from atheism. I can't prove it, but I can't shake the feeling that there was some degree in providence in that. Currently I'm feeling better than I have in my life with the ability to face life's problems with a clear head. Or, as I like to say, the noise is significantly turned down in my signal-to-noise ratio.

    People's willingness to attribute what are obviously medical issue to satanic repression are, in my opinion, very dangerous. They're practicing "medicine" as if it were the dark ages. Quite honestly, they're only a step or two away from using leeches to cure your humors. It's dangerous, and in the case of exorcisms, quite deadly.

    Furthermore, it's placing God in a *very* tiny box to think that he cannot work through doctors, psychologist, psychiatry, etc… If we address science/medicine as a form of revelation about God's work in the world around us then there is no reason to avoid medical solutions to our mortal problems.

    The over-spiritualization of things, both good and bad, is cutting God off at the knees and, in cases such as your's, damning people to an unnecessary life of pain.

    I am glad you are feeling better currently. From experience, I can tell you that sometimes we're better off starting the simplest answer to our problems than we are assigning everything to the workings of Screwtape. (see C.S. Lewis' brilliant "Screwtape Letters)

    I wish you all the best and continued good health. God bless!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00184616275088281652 Chantal

    What an interesting post. For me recently I was hearing a baby/child crying whenever I went downstairs in my new house. I also thought they may have been the dogs next doors. I wasn't afraid afraid, just annoyed. Whenever I went to check up on the children on the main floor or even the second floor. They were happy and content. Finally I took some blessed water and salt and sprinkled it around the basement. I haven't heard them since. I made a mental note to get my house blessed soon.

    My children, this past year started to be afraid of monsters, ect and usually want to be accompanied if they need to go upstairs to their bedrooms or downstairs. My son yesterday noticed that there is a weird monster with St Micheal. This lead to a talk about angels and yes the Devil.

    Jesus doesn't want us to be afraid. He wants us to be at peace and rest. I told them that they have guardian angel and that Jesus will hold them safe.

    Some people are mystics and have great revelations, but I think Jesus just wants us to quietly live our lives knowing that he loves us and us loving those around us, buddist neighbors, and everyone. ect.

    I'm glad you are getting better and they don't return. I love your blog and your thoughts.


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