My name is Audrey. I am a creator, a singer, and a performer. I am the Our Turtle House Sales Manager/blog writer…and I have lived most of my life battling severe anxiety and fear.
This post is written very carefully because the blog is not about me–it’s about Our Turtle House.
Plus, I know that blog writers are typically heard and not seen and I intend to keep it that way.
But sometimes our prayers are answered by other people’s experiences and it’s often through someone else’s vulnerability that we find comfort in our own, so I’d like to tell you a story of how my unspoken prayer of discouragement and doubt was answered…by a magician.
Throughout my childhood, I experienced some severe trauma that resulted in anxieties and fears that have accompanied me into adulthood. I’ve done a pretty good job managing them, for the most part, but occasionally they rear their heads and I have to really concentrate at keeping them at bay.
For the past four years, I’ve been living at the pinnacle of my own personal “Liberty Jail“, my individual place of extreme pain, loss, heartache, and suffering. This isn’t the platform to share any of the gritty details; the details won’t contribute to this particular blog post at all, so I won’t. What I can tell you, though, is that life has been utter chaos.
For someone whose unwritten (but often spoken) motto is “Messes are stresses”, additional chaos has been a real struggle. Stress levels were astronomical. The harder I tried, the harder things got; and the harder things got, the more my childhood trauma resurfaced. Fear, anxiety, and defeat became my constant companions as I tried to juggle life’s new demands. After a severe case of adrenal fatigue settled it, discouragement suddenly made its way into my circle as well.
Life was out of my control. It was too hard.
I was suddenly hit with an unhealthy dose of low self-esteem and an even lower self-worth. I questioned everything I ever knew to be true about the love of God and the Savior’s power to make all things right. As I began to doubt, I began to fear God; as I began to fear God, I began to fear prayer. I was caught up in a cycle that I didn’t know how to break.
Mesmerized By Deception
One of my favorite parts of my job is to emcee at the Turtle Talk Live Events. I love to be on stage, interacting behind-the-scenes with all of our audience members, and getting to know the motivational speakers who deliver powerful inspirational messages. It’s kind of a dream job, really.
In October 2021, I was at the peak of my chaos. I emcee’d at an event where Brad Barton was one of the keynote speakers. As a magician, he mesmerized the audience with magic tricks that he tied into important gospel principles. As his routine went on, Brad began unveiling the 3 techniques of a magician:
- Sleight of hand: Tricks of psychological manipulation, timing, story, and natural choreography.
- Misdirection: Tricks with a purpose of getting the audience’s eyes off of looking at the main thing and looking at something else instead.
- Mental Conditioning: Tricks that get your mental momentum going in one direction while the magic happens someplace else. These are also known as the most powerful tricks of a magician.
All magic tricks can fit into one technique or a combination of them; and all are designed to mesmerize their audience by deception. To accomplish this, the magician creates a powerfully deceptive illusion to delight and confuse the audience: it looks real, it sounds real, it almost even feels real. Yet, in the end, after you’ve seen a really good magic show, you are left with nothing but questions, confusion, and wonder.
Brad then asked, “Can you see where this is heading? Can you see how this is going to tie into a powerful spiritual fireside?”
As I began to feel the Spirit, that feeling triggered my anxiety, spun me into doubt and fear set in. I emceed my way through yet another anxiety attack.
The Devil’s Techniques
Brad’s Turtle Talk message revolved around unveiling Satan’s most powerful illusions: Discouragement. Doubt. Confusion. Hopelessness. Rage. Anxiety. Fear. His mission statement can actually be found in 2 Nephi 2:18 where it reads:
“and because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.”
He wasn’t satisfied with a few of us. He doesn’t even want most of us. He wants us all and THAT is the devil’s mission statement.
“For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good..and thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:20-21)
Satan’s techniques have been carefully honed over thousands of years and have found their way into the hearts of many, using the same techniques as a magician. Here are a few Brad’s talk helped me identify in my own life:
- Sleight of hand: Ironically, Satan glides very naturally, often unnoticed, in and out of my life when I am at my lowest. Whispers of doubt, discouragement, and fear often appear during the most pivotal points of my life’s story.
- Misdirection: I made a mental list of things in my life that are taking my eyes off the main thing. I could identify ways I was wasting my time, habits I had developed, thought-processes I had allowed to evolve. All had distracted me from focusing on the Savior and on my true purpose here on earth.
- Mental conditioning: I was surprised at how many behaviors I could rationalize as being “no big deal”. Little by little, I began to mix up the real with the fake. It all started with a thought and, before long, my anxiety and fear began to take me so far down the “what if” road of the future that I failed to recognize the miracles of today.
These are only just a few examples that appeared in my life. I’m certain that Satan knows us so well that there are numberless, individualized traps that we could all potentially fall into.
And what are you left with in the end? Nada.
(Well, actually you’re left with questions, confusion, and even more wonder, but really those boil down to “nada.”)
The Savior’s Techniques
Now, compare what we just learned about the Devil’s techniques to the ones that our Savior uses.
Because the Godhead is so united, the Savior’s mission statement can easily be summed up by the same that God has proclaimed:
“For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
And what “techniques” does the Savior use to influence us? Certainly not the same as a magician. His techniques all stem from a higher, holier place. In studying Brad’s talk, here are a few that I identified in my own life:
- Love: Everything the Savior does has always been centered around His love for me. Everything. “Greater man hath no love than this...” (John 15:13)
- Free agency: Because of his belief in free agency, the Savior will never manipulate, deceive, or force me into making any decisions. Instead, He’s there help us as we choose our own path. He even sacrificed His own life hoping that we will ultimately choose to return to live with Him and Our Heavenly Parents again someday. He gave us everything, but still He leaves the choice up to us.
- Peace: A lot of the fears and anxieties I struggle with stem from a fear of “the unknown,” both in the past and in the future. Though I may still have unanswered questions, Christ is not going to leave me in a spirit of confusion and wonder. There’s a reason that the Savior is called “The Prince of Peace.” When Christ is present, peace is found.
No. The techniques of the Savior are not magical, manipulative tricks that leave us feeling empty and confused. Instead, the techniques He uses are designed to leave us filled with hope, comfort, and mercy.
The Magical Answer
The Our Turtle House editing team was inspired when they gave Brad’s talk the title, “Don’t Get Tricked: Magic, Lies, & Revealing the Loving Grace of God”.
I’ve pondered this talk several times over the months and I believe I have found my own personal answer to all the prayers I couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t pray. For me, the magical answer was to develop a firm and unwavering testimony of the power of Satan in my life. I needed to fully comprehend that he does exist, that he is a powerful being, and that he knows me every bit as much as the Savior does.
In fact, he knows me so well that he custom-designed a strategy of small, subtle tactics just for me; tricks targeted at the weaknesses he knew I had; distractions that he knew would keep me from my main focus in life.
These ploys looked real, sounded real and felt very real, yet, in the end, they left me with nothing more than questions, confusions, and wonder.
In fact, I began to know this so intensely that I even wrote my testimony about it:
Now, please don’t get me wrong.
I am not “magically cured”. I still have fears and anxieties that stem from my own personal experiences.
In fact, I rely heavily on the beauty of modern medicine and professional therapy/counseling to help me navigate the journey of healing, and encourage you to do the same when needed.
I recognize the complications of clinical depression and anxieties and understand that this is not everybody’s story. It is only my own. I don’t claim to even pretend to have all the answers for everyone.
I also understand that we all have our own individual struggles and that my struggles probably aren’t your struggles and vice versa.
However, my understanding of Satan and God and Jesus Christ and their roles has increased substantially because of this talk. I’ve been able to more easily recognize the everyday techniques Satan uses to trick his way into my life. I’ve also discovered ways that I can hold him at bay.
I would encourage you all to take just 47 minutes out of your day to watch Brad’s talk with your entire family. Perhaps you, too, can contrast the techniques that Satan uses in your own life with the techniques the Savior offers to counteract them.
▶ Watch or listen to Brad Barton’s full Turtle Talk here: Don’t Get Tricked: Magic, Lies, & Revealing the Loving Grace of God
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