Have you ever had a week when you felt like the enemy was aiming right at you with every weapon he has? Me, too! I just finished a week like that, and I’m exhausted.
I won’t go on and on with the details, but here are the highlights. Car problems and expensive repairs. Contract negotiations that stalled. Social media problems. An uncomfortable, nagging pain. More changes in my work situation. People not responding to my emails. Pinching my finger in the door. Seeing reminders of my Dad everywhere I looked. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.
One or two of those frustrations would have been plenty! But all at once? I wanted a rescuer! I ended the week crabby, tired, discouraged and wanting to give up. I’m not proud of that.
got me last week.
Memories. Our memories — pleasant and unpleasant — will come flooding back at the oddest times. The pleasant memories become more and more pleasant as the years go by. Sometimes they become so pleasant that we want to escape into them and leave our own reality.
The human mind and emotions are unpredictable. We can play tricks on ourselves, making the past seem perfect, even when we know it wasn’t.
Unpleasant memories can haunt us, taunt us, and strip us of our joy. The enemy loves nothing better than to prod us with the mistakes and messes of the past. The enemy wants to jumble up our thoughts and feelings until we’re off balance and vulnerable.
I remember hearing James Dobson talk about the book he wrote, “Emotions: Can You Trust Them?” He said that he really didn’t have to write that book. All he really needed to write was one word: “No.”
Memories are all about feelings. When we let our feelings control us, we’re sliding down an icy slope without skis or a snowboard.
Doubts. When one doubt creeps in, others are going to come and join the party. Letting our doubts drive us over the edge is easy. When we begin making up our own version of the truth, we’re diving into quicksand. Combine the two, and confusion reigns. The enemy is the creator of confusion, and he will take you on a detour any chance he gets.
Last week, I found myself doubting my decisions about my car and the contract. I was doubting my ability to do my work. And on and on.
When the “what ifs” start creeping in, we create a playground for the enemy.
Fears. Real, manufactured, all shapes and sizes. Our fears are our undoing if we give them control.
The media has the full-time job of fueling our fears. Add to that our personal fear knapsack we carry around with us plus the unknowns waiting for us every time we get out of bed in the morning. Withdrawal, surrender, and even mental paralysis can result.
One of my greatest fears is being dependent on other people. I’ve spent much of my adult life being fiercely independent. Last week, I had to trust a lot of people to help me. With my car, the contract, my job, even some home repairs. I was pushed to my limits, for sure.
Isolation. The first Sunday we stay home from church for no reason. The first invitation to dinner that we turn down. The first time we tell ourselves we’re too tired to drive to the store. The first movie we watch alone. After that, it gets easier and easier to be alone.
And the more alone time we have, the more tempting it is to create and live in our own reality. Judging others who don’t fit. Hiding out in the comfort of home. Becoming too detailed about the details.
Last week, I didn’t want to see or talk with anyone. I felt like my life was a disaster, and I didn’t want anyone to know that. When I was ready to face people again, I had a hard time doing it. I felt like I was coming out of a cave into the bright sunshine and couldn’t find my sunglasses. It was tough.
Finances. No matter how much money we have (or don’t have), financial responsibility is a big part of life. And when unexpected expenses pop up, we have to figure out where the money is going to come from to pay the bills.
Money management has never been one of my strong points. But in the midst of all the stress last week, I had a financial victory. I actually figured out how to pay the bills and not use my charge card. That is a personal milestone for me.
Here’s what got me through last week.
Love. My sister Barb and my go-to people stand faithfully with me. They pray with and for me. Sometimes I don’t even have to ask! Just when I’m sure they must be sick of me and my problems, there they are. Just when I need them.
Work. Contributing to something bigger than my life. Focusing outside myself. That’s how I correct my perspective. Many of our personal struggles get magnified when our focus is too inward.
Faith. I read so many articles about the importance of believing in myself and believing I can do anything I want to do. More important than any of that, though, is believing in the God who created me and walks with me every day. Who I am in God — his beloved child — defines me and orders my life.
Study. Every question I have is answered in God’s Word. No matter how many times I go to the Bible, I always find something new. Something I never noticed before. Something God saved to reveal to me at the exact time I needed it most. During the past week, Psalm 119 set me on the right path.
Fun. Different for each person. Necessary for everyone. Simpler than we think. Fun is one reason I have two cats. Besides giving me love, they are my floor show every evening! Variety is another type of fun for me. On Saturday, I drove on some country roads. Without a map or GPS. Looked at the cornfields and marveled at the simple beauty of the Illinois landscape. I wasn’t sure where I would end up, but I knew I’d get back home eventually.
For me, the good news about last week is: The enemy didn’t win! Because Jesus has already won the victory! Yes, I did have to go through the attacks. And I know there will be more in the future. But I am prepared.
The enemy waits to attack. Each widow is vulnerable. The widow who prepares for attacks of the enemy by putting on the full armor of God will be victorious in Jesus.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Last week, I wanted a rescuer. Instead, I got a provider and protector. I know who holds my future: God does. I know who holds me in the palm of his hand: God does.
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Warfel