The Bible is not meant to be read literally.
Nor is the title of this article.
This isn’t an article about the big red-horned fallen angel who supposedly hates God and rules over Hell.
Well, that’s a lie, it is.
But not literally.
This is an article about my own personal Satan.
In biblical sources, the Hebrew term satan describes an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character. Although Hebrew storytellers as early as the sixth century B.C.E. occasionally introduced a supernatural character whom they called the satan, what they meant was any one of the angels sent by God for the specific purpose of blocking or obstructing human activity.
– Elaine Pagels, “The Origin of Satan,” 1995
It was then,
As I was a woman
All drawn out of shape,
That the Devil appeared
With its devlish smirk.
The Devil took me up by the mind
And told me its name
I’ve since forgotten it.
But I’ll never forget what it means.
The Devil came up from Kentucky.
I drove it here myself.
We met online.
We’d spent the several weeks previous texting and calling one another every day.
It was going so well.
I’d gone through a divorce about a year and a half prior and I finally felt ready to date again. I’d dated one other guy briefly. He was nice, but not for me. We’ve maintained a friendship at least.
This time, it felt right.
We met for lunch and then I drove him up tour my hometown.
All throughout the day, everything was perfect. We got along every bit as well in person as we had electronically.
I decided to invite him back to my place.
He sat down, legs spread in my easy chair.
And then, his shape changed.
He became something else.
Satan revealed itself to me.
It said it was in love
With another woman,
drawn in its shape.
No one could ever love me
But as a waif.
It brought me to
The other side of the veil.
Showed me the void,
and took me to Hell.
It wanted to be called “daddy”
and called me its whore.
If I was a good girl
Maybe I could be more
Maybe it would take me down
For a spin upon its cock
And maybe it would unravel me
From this knitted sock.
The Devil took my shape that day,
And twisted its already twisted form.
and twisted it more
And that’s the last thing I can tell you about that. The rest is one big blank I have ripped out of my mind. I honestly can’t tell you what followed.
I can only remember the terror of it.
Complete subversion. Total bewilderment. Utter disorientation.
What did I do? What choice did I have?
I like to think I stood up to it and overcame my adversary right then and there and threw it out of my house.
But I know that’s not what happened.
The nearest memory I have, I was driving again, on the road back to Kentucky.
The Devil’s shape wasn’t twisted anymore.
It was the same as before.
I thought about driving my car into the Ohio River.
The world would have been a better place if I did.
It haunted me for years after.
My mind was filled with monsters. The world was on fire.
Once you meet the Devil, it’s always with you.
It’ll never stop trying to rip you from Heaven and condemn you to Hell.
But, like any adversary, it can be overcome.
Like God, and like me, I hope you have angels to help if you ever meet it.
It was a long road to calling myself a survivor, but I’m lucky in that I had a very strong social support network in my life at the time. So many wonderful wounded women who had been through similar events helped me to overcome it.
They are all like sisters to me.
Their support taught me an important lesson. The devil can’t catch you if you’re smarter than it. And so that’s what I did, I became smarter than it. I poured myself into my work. I studied and worked harder than I’d ever known I was capable of and became crafty enough that the Devil couldn’t catch me anymore.
In a weird way, I’d like to thank the Devil.
I’m a much better person because of it.
But that would require forgiveness, and that’s not mine to give…
The devil almost had me fooled.
It knew the weaknesses of my shape
And exploited every one.
Its tricks twisted me
To its own twisted shape.
But I learned from its tricks
Some tricks of the trade.
I learned how to spin
To twist who I am
And I learned how to do it
Better than it
I learned how to shape
To be impenetrable by the Devil
I’ve cast from my Throne.
to eternal shaplessness.
It taught me to shape
And how to forget.
It taught me survival
And the pain of it.
It taught me forgiveness…
and the truth therein:
Sometimes, it’s best left to God.
I hope the Devil’s somewhere praying.
The Devil can arrive at any moment
You don’t always hear its chime
It will try to change your shape
It will try it every time
And sometimes, if you let it
While you’re not watching your shape
It will take and take and take from it
The foolish thing in all this is
This shape the Devil’s made of you
Is its own devilish shape
The only shape that matters is
The shape you make alone
The shape that you take with you
That pattern you follow
The shape you make is better
This shape is your own
It’s in the music you make
It’s in the sound of your voice
It tastes just like the taste of your tears
It’s woven into choice
It overcomes the worst you fear
It can bring your thoughts to cheer
It’s in the burden on your back
It’s the plan when you attack
It’s your guide
when nothing’s clear.
It’s written into the presence you have
And the way you make your way.
Next time Satan tries to twist it:
Overcome the meaning of its name.