Father, mother, daughter. City lights shine light electric. Dressed up, on the way to dinner, the small family makes their way down the street to the restaurant.
Daughter tosses twelve years young glimmering cascade of hair and giggles, smiling at suited man. His stubbled face grins wide back at her.
Mother smiles at the moment shared, heart warm, witness to a glimpse of something precious. She loves them both. She loves their love for each other. She loves the way the girl makes her husband’s eyes crinkle in the corners. She loves the way he makes their daughter laugh out loud.
“She’s wearing my shoes,” mother thinks.
“She’s growing up,” mother thinks.
Father grabs daughter’s hand and guides her through the crowd. Mother steps behind them as they weave their way through the people sea.
“He’s watching out for her,” mother thinks, smiling at the big man’s tenderness toward their daughter.
“He has a soft spot in his heart for her,” mother thinks.
She smiles again, filled with joy in the moment. “Thank you, Father,” her heart prays.
“He used to have that soft spot for you,” mother thinks.
“Remember? When you used to be the one who made him smile?” mother’s heart begins to pound.
In front of her, he is saying something to the girl, something mother can’t make out.
“He doesn’t need you any more, does he? He has her,” mother’s breath catches.
What? That’s. Not. True.
“Do you make him smile like that?” mother wonders.
Do I? Mother wonders…when was the last time?
Frown replaces smile, brow furrows.
“Their affection isn’t appropriate…there’s more going on here than you know… something… something else…”
“Stop it,” she says aloud.
“You know…something…your mother knew it, too.”
Those were lies then and they are lies now.
From the same tongue flickering fiend.
“I am not my mother,” she says aloud.
“Go away, in the name of Christ Jesus,” she says.
And the voice stops.
But the moment is tainted. And though she knows the Truth, and It set her free, she is battle weary, and the enemy won a round, stealing a precious, sweet moment from her.
And during dinner, the memories return. Memories of lying accusations from one who should have protected and esteemed more highly, but that mother was not accustomed to the war. That mother did not know how to fight back. She never swung her sword against evil, but let evil wound others with her tongue as its weapon.
And so this mother raises her sword once more, and on the way to the restroom during dinner, prays, “Father God, I beg you, help me enjoy the rest of this special night with my husband and daughter. Fill my mind with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy and excellent. Help me think about such things. Help me resist the enemy. In Jesus name, I pray, amen.”
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
And when she returns, all is well.
And the next day, she shares her story with a pastor friend of hers. “What do I do? How do I get better at this? I hate this fight. I am tired of it. I don’t seem to be getting better at it. And when we got home that night, I found myself sliding into the pit anyway. What do I do?” she asked.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
“There is a subtle entrance that you are missing,” he said. “Just like in the garden, he begins with a bit of truth, or even a whole truth, sometimes even God’s Word. He masquerades as an angel of light, so we miss it when he starts, and the next thing we know, fifteen minutes later, we’re in the middle of horrible thoughts about why we need to quit our ministry, leave our pastorate, or get divorced, or worse yet, commit suicide. And Jesus can redeem that moment for you – just ask Him to. He’ll wash it and give it back to you, clean.”
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3
So I asked Christ to redeem the tender from the taint. I asked Him to make that moment new, and to give me back the tenderness that was stolen from my perception.
And He did. When I think of what happened, and even when writing it now, the only thing I feel is deep joy for the precious relationship my husband and daughter share.
I speak of this now because I know you are struggling, too.
You don’t know where your thoughts start or end or where the other guy is wielding influence in your life.
The teaching I’ve had about that other guy has been minimal. I’ve been taught to not give him attention, to not talk to him, to not talk about him much.
So that’s what I’ve done.
But I am going to say now that I believe that is wrong.
I won’t be focusing on him a ton in the future, but I do believe I have some things to learn about waging war. I believe God called me to form an army of women – and He called an army because we live life in the midst of a battlefield.
And like so many other things in life, we can either fight hard, or fight smart. I’ve been fighting hard, and it’s helped me hold on longer than the average bear (most ministry leaders or pastors quit after 2.5 years) – we’ve been at this since 2005. So yeah, there’s that. And now, I’m ready to fight smarter.
So think about your own battles. Think about the pit you end up in – the one that ends with “I’m worthless,” “No one loves me,” “I’m a failure,” “I should quit,” and worse yet, “I shouldn’t be alive.”
The one that makes you pull back from everyone or view the entire world as against you and leave you feeling alone.
You know the one. Name it. Dare ya. Say it out loud. Ask God to help you see it at its root when the lies start spinning.
What is interesting, is when I shared the above with our operations director, she said, “Do you mind if I share an observation?” Of course I agreed. “I’ve seen you head into the pit a few times. It’s always after we do major planning, after we map out the year or a project. And shortly thereafter, you get in the hole, and isolate yourself from us.”
I prayed prior to talking with anyone – I asked God to reveal to me if I was just crazy or if this was the enemy. My husband has frequently told me that before God does something with the book or the ministry, I get dragged into the pit. So I wanted to know if this was me being crazy or if it was the enemy. And I’ve been crazy, remember?
I asked Him to let me know by something happening with the book (because there hasn’t been much media activity of late) if it was that other guy. I even asked Him to make it happen via email – and literally less than four hours later, I received an email about a major opportunity, a pre-interview for an interview with a huge Christian ministry with gobs of exposure. It was one of those “out of the blue” unexpected sorts of things that “just happen.” It has been in the works for literally months.
We’re on to him. He’s pretty good at what he does, the whole being bad thing, but we’re getting wiser.
Dare you to join me in lacing up combat boots and choosing the right trenches after suiting up the right way each day. Let’s get wise to his ways so we can be more effective with what God has called us to do.
Love that you are here. Let’s recognize that it’s not our husbands or kids we fight against, but that other guy. We need to fight on our knees, wearing the blade of Truth.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12