Friday, January 3, 2014

Battle for my Mind: Demons, Visions, Old Hag Syndrome - Sleep Paralysis

Battle for my Mind: Demons, Visions, or Sleep Paralysis
Today, I am going to cover some "taboo" territory. This is a topic that is often hidden from most in our daily lives. If a person lives it, they are afraid of being coined mentally ill by some or evil by others. If they don't live it, they either don't want to believe it or it fills them with fear to consider this might actually be true. Thus, we sweep it under the rug.

I had some terrifying experiences from the time I was a child (as a toddler I had a vivid dream of the devil dragging me down to hell and locking me in a chair with flames around my feet until Jesus and my parents showed up to save me) until I was a young adult. Whether they were visions, nightmares, or real, the demonic torment was unnerving. Some of it may have even been old hag syndrome for which there is scientific research. [1] Understanding how old hag syndrome or sleep paralysis works, also helps calm my mind, as it could explain at least some of my former issues. Remember truth is our friend, it helps defeat fear.

The last time I had a visit it sent me into a panic, as now it was not only me involved, but my own child. I called my pastor expecting to either be ridiculed or scolded over it. I mean true Christians should not struggle with demons visiting them. Instead I found empathy and compassion. It turned out the thing I was suffering was not uncommon for Christians (or even secular people in fact) and I was not labeled evil, as I had expected.

To this day, calling Pastor Ed [2] that day is one of the turning points in my life. His advice to me was simple:

(1) Read Romans chapter 8 at least twice every day for a month.
(2) Read Victory Over the Darkness and/or The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson.

I obeyed both. The purpose of the Bondage Breaker was self-explanatory, to see if I was allowing a door to be open, where I have not repented from my past. To be honest, it was the first time I learned the church once used renunciation when one chose to follow Christ. Actually I have never acknowledged exact sins to Christ and wept over my former choices and chose to repent of them. I had done more of a general, "forgive me of all my sins." As time has went on, I do think it is good to grieve over who we were and rejoice in who we are.

Through the years, I have found that from time to time old sins come to mind. When they do, I acknowledge who I was, repent of that time, and acknowledge who I am now in Christ Jesus and thank Him. If I feel led to do so, I make amends to others during this process. People have received unexpected phone calls from me asking their forgiveness. The reaction for the most part, people tend to think I am crazy to call and ask forgiveness, but at least I have walked in obedience.

The big kicker was Romans chapter 8. When I began reading it, I could not see how it was going to help me. I felt as if I were following some "magic ritual cleansing formula"  except I did not expect my problem to magically go away. I mean through the years I had prayer teams pray for me and I had used the right wording when the demons showed, such as "in the name of Jesus" or "by the blood of Jesus" without great results. I mean eventually they would leave, but always with a promise to return and I would feel a mixture of relief and fear of the next visit. Yet, I trusted my Pastor's wisdom and empathy to help me. So I complied.

As weeks went on, one day it clicked. It finally had become "real" to me. I wept like a baby. I finally realized that spiritual warfare had left me living in fear. And while I was not publicly admitting it to others or myself, deep down I had a fear that demons/Satan could kill me and separate me from God, as if someday no matter how many times I claimed the name and/or blood of Jesus, it would be powerless. And as long as this fear owned my mind, I was not set free.

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

To this day, Romans 8 is my favorite chapter in the Bible, though I have some others that come close. I finally knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that NOTHING could separate me from the love I have in Christ Jesus. Did I know that they might try again to scare me? Yes. But it was different. I did not feel the same terror over it. It was forever gone. I was set free in Christ. I knew whatever they tried to make me believe was not truth. I had the truth and I would end up with Jesus.

Satan and demons might try to scare me and might even succeed for a minute if they catch me off guard, but the victory is a done deal and they cannot rob that from my mind. 

Fear is a tool of the enemy, whether our flesh or Satan. Fear leaves us paralyzed or making unwise decisions based on what can be irrational. Jesus Christ came to set us free from fear.

As you come to understand Romans chapter 8 and how real it is to your life, I think the truth that perfect love casts our fear becomes a Scripture which makes more sense too. Jesus is perfect love...and only when we have a firm grasp on what He has accomplished for us and our security from the attempts of the evil one, will we find deliverance.

Choose Life, Giulianna xoxoxox

1. Old Hag Syndrome/Sleep Paralysis
2. Pastor Ed Rea's Teaching on Video

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