I hate to do it, but today we’re talking about Satan.
He is not my favorite subject, but I believe we need to call out his strategies when we see them. And oh man, do I ever see them.
In my research on, and experience with, Latter-day Saint young women I have noticed an alarming trend: these girls are being robbed of their mortal experience.
Most of them don’t know it and think that what they’re experiencing is just how mortality is. But those of us who are older (and hopefully wiser) can help them see the truth of what is happening to them.
Satan Wants You to Be Miserable
The scriptures tell us that “because [Satan] had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.” Or in other words, “he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2: 18, 27)
“The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment.”Joseph Smith
Satan’s ultimate punishment is that he will NEVER progress. He will never have a mortal experience.
“One of the ultimate ironies of eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely because he has no physical body, invites and entices us to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not have and cannot use is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to physical and spiritual destruction.”David A. Bednar
Isn’t that interesting? Satan will not try to lure us to destruction through our spirits– it will be through our bodies!
We know some obvious ones– those who knowingly break the law of chastity or the Word of Wisdom are aware that they are allowing Satan to win the attack on their bodies. Those sins are easily identified.
But what if you keep the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom? Could you be in danger of Satan’s attacks on our physical bodies?
3 Subtle Traps
I believe that some of Satan’s most successful and subtle attacks are on the mortal experiences of teenage girls. Today I want to talk about 3 of the ways Satan is successfully stealing their mortal experiences by causing them to waste it away.
- The Self-Confidence Trap
- The Technology Trap
- The Body Image Trap
Each of these is interrelated, but I want to go in depth on each one.
1. The Self-Confidence Trap
Satan is a master manipulator– after all he has been doing it for thousands of years. He has been working on society in general, and girls especially, to convince them that their worth is negotiable.
The world tells us that there is a long list of things we should and shouldn’t do and be in order to be liked and accepted by others.
Whenever I ask teenagers about this at EFY they are quickly able to tell me what that list is. They’ll say things like:
- I have to be good looking
- I have to be rich
- I have to wear the right clothes
- I have to hang out with the popular kids
- I can’t have really strong opinions about certain topics
- I have to be sort of unique but not too unique
- I need to be really good at sports
- I need to be smart but not brag about it
And the list goes on and on and on.
It always breaks my heart to hear these kids so quickly share what they feel they have to be in order to be accepted. They’re quick to make the list because these things are on their mind constantly.
They are being told by the world– and many are believing it– that their worth is negotiable.
And if the world is where we get our worth, then that’s going to be true for us. We will spend our mortal experience chasing after ideals and standards that are forever changing and never truly attainable. We can never be rich enough, good looking enough, smart enough, or popular enough for the world.
What a waste of a mortal experience that will be!
What if, instead, we encourage our teens (as well as ourselves) to seek confidence from God? Which sounds super cheesy, I know, but go with me on this.
Consider what God would tell you that you need to do or be to be loved and accepted by Him. What would His list look like?
Personally, I believe that He doesn’t have a list. In fact, I KNOW He doesn’t.
“My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”Thoms S. Monson
Can you imagine how different your own teenage experience would have been if you had relied on God for your confidence instead of any other person or thing?
What could you have accomplished? What goals would you have gone after because you weren’t worried about whether you failed or not? What experiences would have been different because you didn’t much care what other people thought about you?
Personally, my life would have been MUCH different. I would have tried out for the school musical, joined the school choir, and never have joined the ski club since I didn’t even know how to ski.
I would have spent a lot more time doing cool things instead of trying to look cool. I would have spent a lot more time enjoying my mortal experience instead of wasting my time trying to earn approval and love from others.
Satan stole a lot of my teenage mortal experience and I hope that we as adults can help the teens in our lives recognize the traps he sets for what they are.
2. The Technology Trap
Oh friends– I’m afraid we’re all in this one, not just the teenagers.
Have you ever set your phone up to show you how much time you’ve spent on it in a day? I have, and the numbers were staggering. Some days my number was as high as 10 hours. TEN HOURS spent using my phone. What in the world was I doing?
“Sadly, some young men and young women in the Church today ignore ‘things as they really are’ and neglect eternal relationships for digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value.”David A. Bednar
Have you ever been on the opposite end of that?
Have you ever been in the room with someone who was so distracted by their phone that they ignored you completely?
Years ago I invited a friend to come stay in my home for a weekend. She lived far away and I looked forward to our visit with great anticipation.
When she arrived we made plans to go out and have some great adventures together. What I didn’t realize was that her phone would be our constant companion on these adventures.
Everywhere we went her phone was out. She was always just “texting real quick” or “checking on something real fast” but it would inevitably leave me staring at the half of her face not covered by her phone and feeling left out.
It was lame.
We ended up having a good weekend, but I believe we could have had a fantastic weekend if her phone had been put away.
And to be honest, I think many of us will look back on our mortal experience and realize that while it was good, it could have been fantastic if we’d just put our phones away.
This is no joke. It’s really not.
As I look back on the days in which I spent TEN HOURS looking at my phone, I wonder what other experiences I could have had.
I want you to consider that as you read the following two quotes:
“If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.”David A. Bednar
“We make many choices between two goods, often involving how we will spend our time. There is nothing bad about playing video games or texting or watching TV or talking on a cell phone. But each of these involves what is called ‘opportunity cost,’ meaning that if we spend time doing one thing, we lose the opportunity to do another. I am sure you can see that we need to measure thoughtfully what we are losing by the time we spend on one activity, even if it is perfectly good in itself.”Dallin H. Oaks
We need to be responsible consumers of technology and media ourselves and encourage it in our teens as well. I’ll be talking about this in another bonus episode, but one of my very favorite resources for this is Family Tech University which is kind of drivers’ ed for cell phone use.
3. The Body Image Trap
Now this is such a hot topic and very tender for so many. If you or someone you love are struggling with an eating disorder, please know that what I’m sharing in this podcast is not meant to demean your very real struggle. That is a mental illness that requires professional care.
But for those of us who simply struggle to accept the body our spirit resides in, this is for you.
If you had to estimate, how much time would you have say you have spent in your lifetime worrying about how you look, judging how you look, worrying about what other people think about you look, making plans to change how you look, working on changing how you look, or simply staring in the mirror and hating what you see?
What would that number be?
Unfortunately for me, I don’t think I would count that in hours it would be years. Years of my life spent worrying about and trying to change what never needed fixing in the first place.
Satan knows he will never have a body, and so he delights in getting us to hate ours. He delights when we look in the mirror and pinch the spots with too much fat, or grumble because we don’t have so-and-so’s body, or simply look away in disgust.
How he must laugh at his success at making us think this is perfectly normal and acceptable behavior.
But it’s NOT!
And women, I’m sorry to say it, but I think we need to really step it up in this area.
“Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it.”Jeffrey R. Holland
If we don’t want our daughters and the other young women around us to grow up hating their bodies, then we need to stop hating ours.
One of Ruby Girl’s power statements is. . .
Your soul is not defined by its shell.
And I believe that with all my heart.
Who you are eternally has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have a thigh gap. Your God-given mission here on earth was not given to you based on your dress size. Your mission, your purpose here on earth, has everything to do with who you are eternally, and nothing to do with the shell your soul is inside.
Women I am calling on all of us to do and be better.
We need to get educated on body image issues, we need to change how we think about and talk about our bodies, and we need to encourage the girls around us to do the same.
Now this is not a sales pitch but I do want to mention some great resources for this, one of which is from Ruby Girl.
We have a Mother-Daughter Unstoppable Confidence Challenge that helps girls and women address their confidence struggles– including body image– and learn to think and act in totally different, healthy, and spiritually empowering ways. You can find more information on that here.
Okay, now that I’ve overwhelmed you with Satan’s attacks on our mortal experiences I want to give you a bit of a boost before we go.
I want you to remember that God sent you to earth at this time because He knew you could succeed — even in the face of all of Satan’s traps, He knew you could be successful.
You were saved for this day on purpose, and I know that part of that purpose was to be a happy and heroic daughter of God, a girl or woman on a mission, who lives her mortal experience fully and completely. I know it!