This Means War!

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.

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6 Responses to This Means War!

  1. Deb says:

    We have to deal with spiritual warfare very often working amongst a people who have been a part of the Army of the Deceiver for so many generations. When we make headway he really attacks. He attacks on many fronts and health is one of them. But most challenging is how he attacks on the front of relationships. He pushes to divide people, because when we are divided we loose our strength, our encouragement, and become discouraged, depressed and unable to push forward for the gospel. So I see so many parallels with your story. He is the grand deceiver and knows his job well. If we are not buried deep in the Word, our freedom to minister, to love, to be one with each other in Christ is shackled to the untruths He whispers in our ears and shouts from the mouths of others! We can become once again enslaved to his lies. Only the Truth will set us free again! Thanks for sharing your story…so many of us have wrestled with the attacks of the enemy and will continue to do so, because we serve the Lord.But we never have to take him on ourselves, the Lord will do that for us. We just have to return to the truth so that his attacks don’t bring us down and make us ineffective in bringing God the glory.

  2. Well, put, Deb! Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment.

  3. Brenda Richardson says:

    This is a freeing thought: “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!”
    Thank you for sharing so honestly, friend!

  4. christina says:

    In Tolkien’s book The Lord of the Rings (not so evident in the films), he writes of “the spirit of Mordor at work” from time to time in the fellowship. Just the kind of thing Deb describes above. That helped me understand my own life better. You are right that the enemy knows exactly where to wound us most. In the year and a half before we moved overseas, I can’t tell you how many nightmares I had, and I don’t remember a single one in which I was threatened. It was always a loved one or a relationship. It’s not so different now, except that the attacks aren’t in dreams anymore. I also notice how much my participation in women’s Bible study seems to have a bull’s eye on it. And what a small thing that is! And yet, . . .

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry you had to live it, but I really appreciate your words here. And go, David!!! What an amazingly mature thing he did. I admire him for that. I’m also thankful you can text your pastor in that kind of time of need. That’s a gift.

    This tab has been sitting open ever since you posted it, but I think there’s a reason it waited until today to be read. Thanks again. Blessed Christmas to all of you there.

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