Living separate lives

Dear Dissonance,

I am really glad to hear that your Patient thinks of her conversion as a done deal, as if faith were like purchasing a house: difficult to fathom the cost at first, and a series of tradeoffs between aspects she likes and dislikes, but a contract completed with her signature, not to be revisited until sale.

You really don’t want her to think of it as something she must wrestle with on a daily basis or integrate into her habits or how she treats her soon-to-be-spouse. What is there to think about, anyway? Have faith, will go to heaven, right? That so many who are ‘born again’ think this way is such a boon for us.

It allows us almost total leeway to direct their day to day lives because what’s the point of studying, for example, if you’ve already gotten into college?  There are those who love to learn and continue to work hard because of that or because of pressure from peers or parents, but ultimately, what’s the point? That is where the Enemy made a big mistake.

He never should have promised anything to humans. That would have kept them on their toes.

Instead, he gave Our Father free reign over human hearts.

One of the best places to see this is in the car. For starters, is it just me or does almost every driver in a major metropolitan area act like a country anticipating invasion? It’s as if the act of merging on a highway on ramp is a declaration of war given how so many people speed up – your Patient included – to prevent people from entering the lane ahead of them. And then there are the dirty looks and constant replays that last well beyond when she parks the car of what she would say to such and such driver for cutting her off if given the opportunity. She is by no means alone in her outrage at the enemy combatants in SUVs, sedans and station wagons swarming around her on the highway. She may be right about the people driving BMWs, especially blue ones, but you get my drift. For this reason rush hour is the most perfect expression of Hell on earth. I never tire of watching it.

And then there is your Patient’s inability to let her fiancé drive without telling him the ‘right’ way to go as if she were an infallible satellite GPS system. It almost never seems to enter her mind that he could have a better suggestion and when it does, she can’t stop herself from offering an alternate route. None of these actions trigger self-reflection on her part. They are just who she is in her mind, her beliefs proven something too precious to invite into the nitty gritty of everyday life.

Her attitude and actions in the car are just two examples among many of how the Enemy plays such a diminished role in her life. What about the fact that she has no problem not answering the phone when her Mom calls or gossiping about people at work? I could go on and on with examples.  If we could place one of those magnified vanity mirrors that shows every laugh line and enlarged pore to her life, it would reveal a pockmarked disaster zone requiring immediate plastic surgery.

But that is not our job. Our job — your job, specifically — is to keep her actions and her beliefs in separate compartments in her head. There must be no ‘aha’ moment that makes her think about the fact that the Enemy wants all of her life, not just her theoretical consent to his existence.

If that happens, we lose our power.

Your job is to help her press the pedal down harder on the highway and to keep the loop of grievances against drivers she doesn’t know playing in her head. If you can do that, you’ve won the day, and quite likely the battle.

Your affectionate aunt,

Pandemonium


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