Working Through a Spiritual Attack
By Vanessa Palencia
I’ve become pretty open about my faith lately for reasons I can’t explain, which is weird for me to type because I wasn’t always like this. I used to be one of those girls that said she was a Christian but never prayed, never read the bible, and hardly ever went to church. It was one of those identifying labels that you grow up with because your parents or grandparents raise you to be that way.
But last summer, when we made our big move across the country, various drastic changes occurred as a result and catapulted me into a meltdown. With no one to turn to (family was on the other side of the country & my fianceè was working 90 hours a week), I turned to the bible. No, not God, as most people might take that sentence: the bible. I needed hope, faith, and reassurance that everything was going to be okay, and I knew that the bible had verses that could provide all of those things, but I still felt a little awkward pursuing a supposedly omnipresent, ethereal God. I spoke to Him on occasion in the shower, and I prayed when my heart felt fractured the most, but His name still felt foreign on my tongue and in my heart. The bible was the only physical thing that allowed me to develop a stronger spiritual connection and draw immediate comfort from it.
Now, after almost a year of working on my spiritual strength, I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I can graciously say that I am a devout follower of Christ. However, as with all things, my increase in faith as a Protestant Christian has only led me to a much more difficult road.
Even if you aren’t a religious person, per se, I’m sure that you’ve heard that bad things tend to happen to good people. But I believe that these good people are strong people, and those bad things are merely character tests (generally speaking). Think of life as a game, and the only way we can level up and continue growing ourselves is by going through some hardships that will strengthen and mold our characters, and a spiritual attack is just one form of a character test.
What is a spiritual attack? It’s hard to define because it can look different on everyone, but think of it as a sudden onset of negative thoughts or feelings (or both!). For me, it looked more like a tidal wave of every known and unknown insecurity crashing down on me. I knew it was a spiritual attack because things I was once completely confident in, like my relationship with my fianceè and my son, suddenly felt like it stood on a delicate rock. Thoughts that never used to cross my mind overtook me and forged its way into my heart, converting itself into a tangible emotion that made me want to wage war on myself and those around me. One minute, I’d be happily humming a song and the next minute a dark cloud would form over my head and make my question my life’s decisions. I’d be praising God at church on Sunday, and the second I left the campus, I’d feel insecure in my own skin and question my partner’s love.
At one point, I felt so overwhelmed with every negative thought penetrating my brain, and every negative emotion as a result, that I broke into a full-on panic attack. My heart was racing, my body was shaking, and I was on the verge of tears. I had no idea how to defend myself, so I broke out crying. I called it an early night and crawled into bed with my fianceè holding me in his arms. This happened two weeks ago. I’ve learned a lot since those two weeks.
I learned that even though it seems like there’s nothing you can do except succumb to the downward-spiral, you can do something. You can defend your peace by strengthening your mind and your soul. It isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
Strengthening your mind takes a lot of discipline and detox. You need to retrain your mind to think in the positive and see things through a different lens, whether this is in the form of self-development books, the bible, or meditation. Remember, spiritual attacks are designed to take you down by hitting you in all the right places, so you need to know yourself inside and out. Whether you’d like to or not, you need to get comfortable with knowing your biggest insecurities, even the silly ones. This helps you better identify when you’re experiencing a spiritual attack, because you will notice a pattern of all of your insecurities penetrating your mind. This gives you the chance to understand where these negative thoughts are coming from and a chance to dismiss it. Because once you realize that they’re being placed in your head and heart to weaken you, you’ll be able to defend yourself by differentiating between reality and imagination.
Once I had a better understanding of all my insecurities and a better perception of the way I worked, I started to notice a difference in the way I combatted negative thoughts and emotions. Sure, they might still get a good grip on me every now and then, but I never let them linger for long, because I know where they’re coming from. I’m a huge believer that things happen for a reason, and when I look back at the huge break-down I had, I realize that that needed to happen so that I could grow, learn, and share my experience with those who need to hear it, too. If you’re going through a spiritual attack, just know that you’re not alone and know that you can make it through. Our minds are powerful weapons, and it’s up to us whether we train them to work for us or against us.