I have been learning about the process of spiritual discernment, I have gained most knowledge from Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Each decision we enter into we encounter two opposing spirits: a good and an evil spirit. The good spirits can be anything from angels, saints, the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, etc. The evil spirit can be demons, our own lower nature, or even Satan himself. Saint Ignatius says that we can go through periods of spiritual consolation and spiritual desolation. Consolation comes from the good spirits and brings forth feelings of peace, joy, love, patience, courage and ultimately igniting a deep desire to develop a deeper communion with God. Moments of desolation, on the other hand, come from the evil spirits and cause a heaviness of heart, restlessness, discouragement, fear and essentially a temptation to give up and pull away from God.
All these concepts were extremely familiar to me I just hadn’t been able to put a name to them until now. I have spent many times in spiritual desolation because I did not always have the tools to call out the lies being told to me by the evil spirits. Saint Ignatius states that desolation can come when you are “on the right track” and getting closer to God’s will. When you have been in a state of consolation the evil spirits want to dissuade you and place fear in you causing you to question the revelations your spirit may have had when in a state of consolation. The evil spirits are good at finding your weak points and using them as entry points. I have several weak points, since moving to New York the Lord has blessed me and provided me with more of an ability to recognize those weak points. With the help of the Holy Spirit I have been getting better at fighting off the fear and worry that the evil spirits attack with.
There is one key place that I am extremely vulnerable and it is my battle controlling my chronic disease, type one diabetes. My struggle with blood sugar management can bring out the times of greatest desolation but can also bring out times of greatest and most fulfilling consolation. Saint Ignatius makes the point that God never gives you periods of desolation but He will allow them if He knows that it will essentially lead to your spiritual benefit. The times of desolation I have experienced through diabetes have probably been the best experiences I have encountered ultimately building my faith and reliance on the Lord. I have had incidences when my blood sugars have dropped down to dangerous levels. When my blood sugars drop too low I end up passing out and sometimes having convulsions that appear like I am having a seizure. The quickest way to fix these lows is to get me sugar and fortunately whenever I have dropped into these danger low levels my mom has found me and force fed me some smarties or given a glucose shot. Recovering from these low blood sugars is not easy and it takes a while. It takes time for the sugar to enter into your blood stream and build up your strength. During this time of recovery are probably the most terrifying periods of my life. Waking up after passing out is difficult and extremely painful. My body has just gone through a period of extreme stress, I have usually fallen on a hard floor and once I actually bit through my tongue. On top of the physical pain I also have mental strain. I normally have no idea where I am, what day it is, and completely lost my short term memory. I know that I should be aware of certain things but I have no ability to recover them. It is at these points when I am weakest and the evil spirits take advantage. I am cut off from the comfort of my Heavenly Father or at least it feels that way. This is the biggest lie that I am fed by the evil spirits and because my body and mind are so fatigued I have no choice but to believe this lie. When I am in these periods I can’t find the strength to remember what day it let alone remember how to pray to Christ for help. I release my control and desire to “fix” myself and surrender to Christ. No matter what damage the low blood sugar might have caused my body always recovers and it is all due to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Emerging from those severe times on desolation I truly feel like I am coming back to life and in a sense I am. My body is restored, my memory is regained and my spirit is filled with joy praising Christ.
It is common to encounter people feeling sorry for me when they hear that I have diabetes because of the hardships I have to live with. Yes, there are times when I get frustrated and fear for my health but most of the time I feel blessed. The Lord has taken a true cross and brought me closer to Him through it. Those times of consolation after my diabetic lows are times that I would not trade for anything in the world. Christ has brought me back to life and made me an even better person because of it.