If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
I am a Christian. There's never been a doubt in my mind who the enemy is. I've made mistakes and I fall way short, but God's grace sustains and frees me. I am a child of God and I am a warrior in His army. I would never knowingly help the enemy, not ever.
Except now I find that I've become a double agent. How on earth did that happen?
It happened step by step:
Step One: I refuse to pray for myself as I prayed for others. No specifics, no details, no begging. How crazy is that? Crazy, but true. And I did this for years. It's a long step and the enemy is a patient one. He's willing to wait me out till I get comfy in my step. Then he reinforces my new pattern until it feels wrong to pray for myself in any but the vaguest of terms.
Step Two: I allow an internal dialogue that is completely debasing to myself. What a loser you are. You are such a bum. You don't matter. Who cares if...? And on and on it goes. At first, just little things like my sleep patterns. I allowed myself not a sliver of grace, held myself to impossible standards that I would never have even dreamed of forcing on others. In fact, if others had been treated that way, I would have lovingly pointed out that they were being abused. I abuse myself. And the enemy chimes in. Even when I catch myself and try to stop that line of thinking, he pushes and pressures and is relentless.
Step Three: I embrace the isolation. Isolation is something that those with chronic illness must accept as a new normal, to a large degree. I stand by that. But what I have done is allow it to become internal. I stopped writing, stopped interacting on my blog. Then I withdrew more and more from social media, which is sometimes a lifeline for me, the only contact I have with those outside my family. At the same time that I was wrapping isolation around me like a blanket, the enemy was sending in fear and anger and just plain old ambivalence by the truckload. I find it to be a monumental feat to begin a conversation. Answering an email terrifies me to my core. Reaching out? Impossible.
And so I find myself working for the enemy. Against my own self. It's an inside job, the only way to destroy a loyal disciple like me.
And now that I know it's happening, it's going to end. Today. I know it will not be a simple or easy process, but I'm tackling it. If you find yourself in the same boat, I hope you're willing to tackle it along with me.
The next few Fridays are going to cover the steps above. This has to stop. Let's find some real ways to combat our enemy... even when that enemy includes our own self.
For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.” - 1 Peter 3:10
Even to yourself.
And so, for this week, I am making 3 small changes. Baby steps.
1. Lean on God alone. I'm inviting Him into my isolation and I'm shutting every other thing out. I'm reading, I'm singing, I'm praying, getting His message engraved on my heart. Letting the silence work for me instead of against me.
2. Lean on Christ alone. I'm depending on Him to pray for me, to teach me how to pray for myself. Every day.
3. Lean on the Holy Spirit alone. His is the only internal dialogue I will have, and He is powerful enough to shut out any other. He is willing, and so am I.
Holy God, we beg for only You. We surrender to only You. May each blessing bestowed turn back to praise You mightily. In Jesus' Name, Amen...
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May God Bless You,