As a good church-going kid, I was always a little afraid of the devil. I was afraid he was going to jump up out of nowhere and steal away the things that matter most to me.
Even people who do not believe the devil is a real thing have this fear. That there is something negative waiting around the corner to destroy the things we hold dear.
Even though we may not say it this way, I believe modern America thinks the devil is in failure. That if we make a mistake, we are done for. If we let people see our imperfections, our struggles, it will be the end of us.
One of the professors at the college we work at often says that perfectionism is the only sin we commit outright and are celebrated for. The worst thing one can say when asked about what they did that day is, “nothing”. We wear our stress and our over-commitment as a badge of honor. We imagine having too much to do is affirming because there is so much we are good at, so many people and things vying for our attention. It is the self-serving cult of personality and we lap it up even as it destroys us.
This is just a symptom of the greater disease. The real affliction is the need to keep a façade of perfection. Failure is a stiff wind to our house of cards.
As such, we avoid it at all costs. Even if that means bending the truth or hurting others.
Satan is not trying to get us to make a mistake. He is more clever than that. Satan is trying to reinforce our perspective that mistakes are not okay. He is trying to pile on the narrative that we have to have it all figured out, know everything, and be okay all of the time. He knows the pressure is enough to destroy us. It turns us into addicts. It silences us in a crowd. The weight of perfection is the devil’s subtle whisper.
Fighting with Perseverance
We think we need to be all-the-time victorious in order to defeat the devil. The reality is we need to be all-the-time fighting in order to beat the devil.
Evil only wins by forfeit. It wins when we give in to it because we are tired of the better way. We are tired of the disappointment, confusion, and effort that goes with a life well-lived.
We have believed the lie that struggle equals failure. But struggle is also a part of success. The road to meaning is paved with failure. Evil does not win when we encounter disappointment or mistakes. It wins when our disappointment and mistakes leads us to giving up.
Success in this life is to continue to struggle with courage and vision. When we lose sight of where we are going and start to look for shortcuts because we assume things should be easier, we are on the slippery slope toward giving in.
Failing is a part of life. Imperfection is a part of reality. Having it all figured out is a false-narrative, a trap meant to destroy us and strip us of our worth.
All it takes to defeat evil and the influence of evil is perseverance. Don’t give up.