I think one of the hardest and most important things to remember is that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. There’s a real enemy out there that has so easily deceived us into thinking that people are the problem. Somebody cuts us off in traffic, and we go off on them (not that most of them can hear us anyway). Somebody hurts our feelings, does something we don’t like, or just is somebody we don’t like or that we don’t agree with, and how many times do we find ourselves gossiping about them as if we’re better than them or if they just didn’t exist or if we weren’t around them, we would be happier and life would be better?
Sometimes I find myself wishing people or problems away and of course, it just doesn’t work. I’ve not only fought or tried to run away from people or problems at times, but also God. I thought God brought this person into my life and He knows the beginning and end and everything in-between, so why didn’t He just not bring someone into my life who’s going to hurt me so badly?
God doesn’t work that way. He cares too much about us to work that way. He cares too much about me to work that way. I always have to remind myself that. Since when has life been just about being happy or easy? Since when has it even been about me?
If you go into life or marriage or anything really thinking it’s all about making you happy; I’m guessing you’re going to be sorely disappointed. To be honest, I knew this was going to be hard work. Everything good in my life has come from either hard work or blessings or both. Honestly, if I really thought about it, and I didn’t dwell on how hard everything would be, how hard everything is, I’d want it that way. There’s no growth with no challenge. But also, we’re in a great spiritual battle. Not just when we want to be. Not just when we’re ready to be. But always. Always. With each and every decision we make, we can choose to be on God’s side or Satan’s. Seriously, it’s as simple and yet scary as that. Those voices we hear telling us to lie or cheat or look at porn or steal, or basically anything outside of God’s will aren’t necessarily our own fleshly voices, and they’re not necessarily a part of us.
It’s amazing how easily we forget:
“ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
If you know what it’s like to be tempted, to give into that temptation, and then feel so ashamed afterwards, do you really think it was you telling yourself to do those things? We are in a war! Do you really think our enemy that goes to and fro throughout the whole earth (Job 1:7) is going to let you off that easily-I mean, especially, especially, if you’re doing anything for God, His enemy, or are even in a marriage, what’s meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church? He HATES that picture and will do ANYthing and everything to destroy it. If you’re being attacked constantly, maybe you’re doing something right. After all, why would our enemy feel the need to really attack someone who’s not a threat?
And here I am. I’ve been attacked. I’m worn. I’ve been hurt more times than I can even count or even care to at this point, because every time I even think back on it, I just get angry. And I want to hurt the person who’s hurt me. Or leave them. The person who’s sided with our enemy so many times and hurt me deeply. The person I should be able to trust more than anyone and yet I have no safe haven to rest in. Sin ALWAYS hurts and affects people. ALWAYS. There are no exceptions.
But then I’m reminded of all the times I’ve messed up. All the times I’ve hurt God deeply for siding with our enemy, whether I realized it at the time or not. All the times I thought my ways were better than God’s ways and have had to face the consequences. How utterly lonely I was when I would turn from God and have no one to run to, nowhere I felt safe and at home. How completely devastated I was in myself for screwing up again. And again. “Would I ever get this right?” The feelings of being completely ashamed of not being the person God created me to be and running away from my purpose. I could go on and on. Not to mention, all the people I hurt in my path during those times. And how much I needed someone, an anchor, a safe haven to rest completely in then, when I deserved it the least. And God was and is ALWAYS there for me then. When I’ve screwed up the most, and deserved His love the least. And that’s exactly what our enemy wants us to forget. He wants us to forget the One who loves us. He wants to trip us up and then have us be so ashamed that we run away from the only One who can bring us back. The only One who truly, deeply loves us.
And that’s part of what love is. Accepting someone completely after they’ve made so many mistakes you’ve lost count. L O N G suffering. Being there for the person after they’ve hurt you deeply and even when it hurts to be in the same room as them. Doing what’s best for them and others and not giving up despite feeling like you’re going to fall apart and looking to the only One who can hold this fragile cord together. And still giving them your best whether you’ll get it in return or not. This life has never been about me. It’s never been about my happiness. It’s never been easy; and at this rate, I don’t even know if I can hope for it.
But as I make the tough choice to love someone who’s betrayed me once again, dwelling on who God is and what He’s done for me, I can’t help but think of all the times He’s felt this same exact feeling, from me and others. And how hard it must have been. How it would have been so much easier for Him to take away our free will and make us love Him; and yet He knew we would betray Him over and over again, and He still loved us enough to give us the choice to choose Him. He believes in us that much. His love is so strong for us that it can win us over. And I have to believe that when I allow His love to shine through me, it’s strong enough to win this battle.
I’m not giving up. Love never gives up. Love never fails. And while at times it’s easy to forget who the enemy is, and I may direct my anger at the wrong person; I’ve been trying to remind myself that we’re all people. We make mistakes. Sometimes constantly. If we didn’t make mistakes, we’d be God. And we all desperately need Him. Myself included. Especially myself. But God has always loved me in spite of it, and maybe at times because of it. He completes me and He’s transforming me. And when I place my trust in Him, not only is my love unshakable, it’s strong enough to win not only the battle for myself, but my family. And what better picture of Christ’s love can there be?