A month or two ago I was asked to speak at a women’s conference happening at our church on November 9. I was honored to be asked to speak, and was excited about the idea of our church starting a women’s conference that will hopefully become an annual event. I was given the assignment of speaking on the experience I have had losing my husband-only not really. In the midst of the planning, I also volunteered to speak on a more general theme of being a wife and a mother. So as the days drew near to the conference I got my two speeches prepared and submitted for approval. It seemed to me that almost simultaneously with hitting the send button that would submit my last speech, things began to crumble around me at home. My husband and my children had a falling out that left me stuck in the middle with no idea how to get out.
Strokeman told me that he thought I was contributing to the children’s lack of respect for him because I was being subversive to his authority. Yes, I said, I have in a way been subversive in that I have had to overrule decisions that he would make that would have been detrimental to our lives as a whole. I reminded him that the neuropsych evaluation had shown his brain had been affected in the area that would allow him to make sound decisions. I told him that I had, to the best of my ability, made decisions that were in keeping with what he would have decided pre-stroke. The longer we talked, the more I began to wonder if I had actually just made decisions that made me happy and had disrespected my husband as he seemed to believe. When we are having these encounters he remains very calm and matter of fact. He seems rational, and I begin to believe him. On about round 8 of the ongoing discussion, Strokeman made an appearance that could not in any stretch of the imagination be mistaken for Sherman. It was a familiar illusion. Ah! I thought, I have bought into the alternate reality and I need to come back to my senses.
At this point, I texted my pastor and asked, “If I write two speeches about the faithfulness of God through suffering and then my family starts splintering and my husband accuses me of being subversive, is that spiritual warfare?”
“Yes,” he responded, “Of the most difficult and insidious kind.” He went on to encourage me with the truth of scripture, and to offer any assistance I might need. What a gift to have such men in leadership in our church!
I have to say I was caught by surprise. It had not crossed my mind that anything I would say at the conference would be of enough significance to catch the eye of the prince of darkness to the extent of such an attack. I just wanted to encourage a couple of women. And yet, here I was getting hit exactly where it would shake me the most. So much of my tending to the inner workings of our household is guess work for me. When is it sound judgement to overrule my husband, and when is it just plain taking advantage of him? I know my own heart well enough to know that I am capable of making excuses for my selfishness. I began to wonder if I really had any wisdom to share with anyone. What was I doing speaking to other women about the things of God when I had failed so completely with what He had assigned to me?
Once I realized I had been duped, I backed off and began the process of thinking things through in hopes of coming to some kind of conclusion that would be more in keeping with everyone’s best interest without reinforcing Strokeman’s belief that we were all against him in the most disrespectful way. At this point in the battle, a new warrior entered the picture in the person of my youngest man-child. It is an amazing thing, you know, when you see your children rise to the occasion in such heroic ways. He called a family meeting, and calmly addressed each issue in turn. With each grievance that was brought up by my husband, David was able to ask questions and follow up with more questions, until he had brought to light the truth of the situation. I have never been so proud. But as good as it was, it was also brutal. We are still picking up debris in our hearts, all of us.
In the aftermath, I became sick. There were days when I wondered if I would have a voice to speak with by the time the conference rolled around. So as I rested and nursed myself back to health, I did a lot of thinking. What was I doing speaking to these women? Did I think that I had arrived in some way and had so much knowledge that they needed to hear? Was I relying on my own wisdom? Or was it that this conference was the beginning of something very important at our church, and so the forces of evil were working hard to thwart the efforts? I finally came to a few conclusions:
First of all, I reminded myself what I had written in my first speech: that being successful in any particular aspect of my life is not really the point. The point of my life (as stated in question 1 of Spurgeon’s Catechism) is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. If it would glorify Him for me to give my two speeches, then He would see to it that I managed to give them. If not, then I was ok with that, because I surely did not want to be speaking just to hear my own teeth rattle.
Second of all, I realized that what Satan had meant for evil, God meant for good. I believe that what was said at that family meeting was long overdue. I believe it was helpful to acknowledge the gaping wounds that needed to be addressed. I believe that a bit of healing took place that day. Everything is not better, and things are far from perfect, but a lot that was good has transpired.
Finally, I realized that if what I had written in my speeches was true according to scripture, it didn’t really matter whether I had lived them successfully or not – they were still true! And if what I had written was not true, then, as I have already stated, I surely did not want to be speaking just to hear my own teeth rattle.
Well, I did give my speeches. I think they went well, and were well received. I learned a few things about what I will do differently if there is a next time (insert more jokes to keep me from crying, turn the lights down so I can’t see other people crying). I learned that I have my dad’s tendency to project my voice as if I were speaking to thousands of people with no microphone. And I learned yet another way in which I am thankful for my pastors. I think about the hours and hours it took for me to write two 25 minute speeches, and the amount of grief I endured on the spiritual warfare front, and I cannot imagine what they must go through to present us with the sermons they preach every single week! Pray for your pastors, people!
The conference as a whole was very good. I was both encouraged and convicted by the other speakers. I came home wanting to do better, to be more loving, to work harder. Even though there was no comparing of notes between the 5 speakers, there were certain themes that ran through each speech throughout the day; the goodness of God, the necessity of sitting under sound teaching and being involved with our local congregations, and the wisdom of the Bible being far more important than prevailing trends on marriage and family. I think we all came away with a deeper appreciation for each other as well. I pray that the Lord will use this to bring us closer together as women. May we be quick to encourage each other according to the guidelines set out in Titus 2. Meanwhile, I think I need to do some study on spiritual warfare.