One of my monument goals in life is to be a honorable man for my God, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, and my enemies (though they are thankfully few and far between). In order to be the best Christian, father, husband, son, brother, friend, peer, leader, etc., I must better myself by working on my weaknesses. How? By maintaining a constant state of learning.
A friend recently lent me The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the same beloved author of The Chronicles of Narnia series. I fully expected the story to dwell in the realm of fantasy with Mr. Tumnus, Aslan and the White Witch. To my surprise, the book takes place between Hell and Earth.
The book is collection of letters from one of the highest demons (Screwtape) of THE Devil to his nephew (Wormwood). Individual demons are charged with the task of securing the damnation of individual human souls. The veteran Screwtape mentors the rookie Wormwood throughout his task with tips and tricks used to lure his "patient" away from the righteous path. Wormwood speaks towards the more traditional evil ways our modern culture has portrayed a path to Hell (sex, riches, etc.) while the experienced Screwtape reminds his nephew in Letter XII, "...the safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." Screwtape focuses on planting seeds such as doubt, impatience, temptations and other distractions.
Screwtape's ideas of seeds are the very weaknesses with which I struggle and must rule in order to live up to my objective of being honorable. Are you ready for my epiphany moment? Each of those seeds are negative ideals, beliefs, or practices. I began to see life and every decision, big or small, as a constant battle between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, God and Satan, Luke and Vader, etc. Every time I give in to a negative, the Enemy wins that moment's battle. Every time I rise above the temptation of a negative, I win that moment's battle for the good, right, etc.
Each of us has a variety of demons catered specifically to our dispositions regardless of religious tendencies: impatience, a loose tongue, lack of respect, frustration, gluttony (not defined by only food), any type of addiction (not specified to only social taboos), etc.
Being a teacher at an alternative behavioral program offers the greatest practice grounds. I have been yelled at, sworn at, had books, chairs, desks, and doors slammed, and called every name in the book, yet in each of those moments I recognize the challenge the Enemy is presenting; for those of you who aren't familiar with me, I don't like to lose challenges. Yelling, calling a student names, insulting their intelligence or their mother would only bring me down where the Enemy wants me, thereby securing his victory in that battle. Funny thing about losing battles with the Enemy, it tends to pile on more challenges after you lose. If I were to call a student a name or even throw something back, do you think the challenge is over simply because I lost in that moment? Of course not! I would have that student's parents, my bosses, and the administration to deal with next.
Keep in mind, when I say Enemy I am not always referring to the Devil. For you, the Enemy could be some non-religious demon. (AH! I used the title of the post!) Like the founders of Crossfit, I find that people tend to rise to challenges with more vigor when the idea of points or competition are put in place. Look at your demons, your negatives, as the opponent. By referring to your opponent as "the Enemy" you not only bring them to life, you create character. Capitalizing the word "Enemy" signifies importance, personifying whatever it is your personal "Enemy" may be.
With love and honor,