In the few years that I’ve lived in France, I have found people to be patient and kind when foreigners try to speak French. More often than not, they are very encouraging when I speak and my accent is a source of “cuteness” instead of annoyance. However, one day a “messenger of Satan” (2 Cor. 12:7), as I teasingly call her, came into my life. It was a brief encounter, but she made her mark. She was the stereotype: ruthless with her precious language, expecting perfection from all. She, unfortunately for me, sat near the front of an anti-trafficking training that my colleague and I were leading. She took it upon herself to correct any mistake we made, policing any pronunciation that wasn’t just right. How’d she do this? Under her breath but loud enough for me to hear. The topic was already a difficult one to teach in English; it was even more complicated in another language. I tried to smile and just keep going, but this “messenger” messed with my head. Honestly, I think she meant well, but it was anything but helpful.
Despite the best of intentions, people can become “messengers of Satan,” pushing our buttons where we are most vulnerable. They seem to have a sixth sense for where insecurities lie. I tease when I label them this way, but I think you understand what I’m talking about. They are the ones who know what is best and they don’t mind telling you how to improve your life whether you asked for their input or not. When these messengers come, we must wage war. The battle isn’t with the person, despite the desire we may have to slap them silly. The battle is with the insecurity that surfaces. It’s a fight against those thoughts that want to perpetually tell you: “You’ll never get it right (a.k.a. perfect)” or “You are stupid” or whatever else the lie might be for you. We must be ruthless with these thoughts, recognizing their toxicity and then putting them in their place—to death. They have no place in our lives and they really must go.
While it is true in this scenario that I will never be perfect in French, I don’t have to be a casualty from this discouraging encounter. The reality is that I am improving each day. In some ways, she has done me a great favor. She highlighted where I need to let God do some more work in my heart. Thankfully, that’s where I find another layer of freedom for my life.
What is your “messenger of Satan” showing you about your insecurities? What is the lie you need to put to death today?