Satan, the Boy Next Door
by Kathy Penrod
Go to the costume section and you will inevitably find a devil costume with red horns and a tail. Watch a horror movie and see Satan depicted as an ugly frightening beast. He's scary and loud and invokes fear. This particular Satan we run from, don't let him come anywhere near us. We have our guard up against THAT Satan! But that's not the effective Satan, the one that leads us carefully down to Hell.
I was at a point in my life that I was really trying hard to live the Gospel to the fullest. I had purged my life of some of the "worldly" things that could keep the Spirit from being fully present. I was reading and praying and serving. I was truly wanting to be the best I could be. Ironically, during this same time, I started to doubt my worth. I began to have thoughts like "you'll never be good enough" or "sure I know God loves me, but He is disappointed in my lame efforts". I would even pray and express these feelings to the Lord and ask Him to let me know I was doing Ok. I would have little glimpses of Light assuring me I was good. But then, the whispers of "you're just a loser in the Kingdom of God" would reappear. "You have nothing to offer" became my truth. And, of course, I took that as the answer to my prayer. I still continued to try my best to live right, I love how I feel when I'm obedient and feeling the Spirit. But I also lived with the cloud over my head that as much as I tried, I just would never be good enough. That's a very sad life.
One day while in the Temple, I had the true answer to my prayers. The answer was this: Satan isn't always mean and scary, he is actually very charming and cunning. He twists and seduces with a sweet voice. He even comes across as caring! Heavenly Father would never demean. He would never tell me to stop trying because I was useless. Those are words of the Destroyer. I was deceived by the Boy Next Door. The sweet and charming and caring Satan that I wasn't prepared for. He wanted me to give up, to lose site of my potential and divine nature. Elder James E. Faust said this:
Who has not heard and felt the enticings of the devil? His voice often sounds so reasonable and his message so easy to justify. It is an enticing, intriguing voice with dulcet tones. It is neither hard nor discordant. No one would listen to Satan’s voice if it sounded harsh or mean. If the devil’s voice were unpleasant, it would not entice people to listen to it.
Once I recognized this, it was actually sort of easy to put those thoughts out of my head, to tell Satan "no more!" and make room for the Spirit to speak truth to my heart. To feel the love my Heavenly Father has for me. To feel like my offering was acceptable. To feel peace.