12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
brace yourselves, lads. it’s about to get capital H heavy. and deep and real and honest. but i woke up at 3:30 and can’t sleep anymore and this all wants out of my brain and heart.
i’m gonna start by saying that in this day and age, a good, sound therapist is better than a Berkin bag. and if you’re on the fence or have tossed around the idea of talking to a professional because this year has been HARD, here is your sign that says “jump!” you won’t regret it. you deserve it. your family deserves it. your past self deserves it most. i am only sorry i waited this long to learn how to truly stop carrying things that never served me in the first place.
that being said, i want to try and share with you this incredible shift God has begun in my thinking. it started about a month ago. in one of my early therapy appointments, i asked if it would surprise him to learn that i can be…mean. especially when i fight. let me say up front that i am an excellent fighter. my ugly streak comes in fierce in any argument. my mind becomes more clear, i am more quick-witted and cutting, and it is the ugliest view of me. i tend to leave a string of people i love in my wake. it’s pretty awful. but i would easily describe one of my worst characteristics as simply “mean.”
and he told me that he actually doesn’t really believe in mean people. he only sees it as various degrees of fear. he described how his favorite cat would respond to being put in a kennel to be taken to the vet. this sweet, docile cat would back itself into a corner, hiss, scratch, bolt, yell, anything to try and break away from his owner. his daughter said to him once, “daddy, look at how mean he’s being to you! and he’s your favorite cat.” his response was, “he’s not being mean at all. he’s scared. he doesn’t understand that it’s going to be okay. he just doesn’t want to get in the kennel and go to the vet.”
first seed planted: it’s perfectly fine to believe people are not inherently mean.
fast forward several weeks, and a friend of mine posted about the song “Defender” by steffany gretzinger and francesca battistelli. a song i’d never heard before. she was talking specifically about the opening lines.
You go before I know
That You’ve even gone to win my war
You come back with the head of my enemy
You come back and You call it my victory.
to paraphrase, she was so thankful for that (graphic but amazing) image of Jesus carrying satan’s head. she said that any time she wanted to dwell on her past mistakes and sins and all the lies whispered to her, she was reminded that it had already been defeated by a God who loves her. a God who loves us. all of us. and He’s carrying the head of her enemy.
now i’m gonna flesh out part 2 because it’s heavy and makes my brain hurt a little bit. but it’s good. it’s so, so good, and i’m just grateful for a God that is patient and loving and gentle in teaching me things i have forgotten or ignored altogether.
when lacy was talking about this image of Jesus carrying the head of MY enemy, i realized something obvious. it would never be the head of someone i know. anyone i consider even remotely close to an enemy on this earth is still fully made in the image of God. He loves them completely as they are. i am not special in this Love. there would NEVER be anyone’s head but the actual enemy. the lower case e enemy (because i hate him) satan that is out to kill, steal, and destroy the lives of anyone in his path. the liar that can twist and manipulate and plant half-truths in our minds that ruin the very best of us.
and it hit me that, with that knowledge, i actually don’t have any enemies in my life. the only enemy i have ever had or WILL ever have is the actual enemy of this earth. when i filter that knowledge into any conflict i’ve ever had, it always comes back as two things: fear and satan. repeatedly. no question. the worst of any conflict i’ve encountered was still with someone made in the image of Christ. and somehow, incredibly on this earth, i suddenly find myself with no enemies.
now, i know i cannot speak on any part of your story. it’s yours and yours alone. but my heart can instantly hurt imagining who or what YOU are thinking about right now. it’s heavy. it’s too heavy and too much. know that i’m next to you with a mental glass of cold water and a banana right now. think samwise and frodo and elevenses and i can’t carry this for you but i can carry you and what not oh shoot spoiler alert sorry should’ve mentioned that moving on.
for me, as i have begun the gentle process of debriding past pain that hasn’t healed properly, i suddenly find fresh blood to the area. (sorry for my non-medical friends out there. oh SHOOT did you really just faint?) with this sudden knowledge that i have no enemies, i find tired, buried bitterness slowly shifting into, for now, maybe just a kind of indifference. and maybe that indifference will even turn into love. love for my neighbor. love for myself. if nothing else, it will turn into a deeper sense of forgiveness and healing. and that’s the direction i want to go.
i don’t know why i woke up at 3:30am the morning after debates i didn’t watch. but i caught the headlines and the posts and the general feeling of tumult and dread and opposites on all sides. and it was so deep in my bones that someone, somewhere might benefit in this patient, loving lesson my Creator is teaching me: the only real enemy we have on this earth has been defeated already. people that we feud with here are just as afraid about something as we are. and either way, rejoice, because anger is actually just fear. it won’t necessarily change your political party. but maybe it will remind you we are all image-bearers to Christ, and there’s a sweet freedom in that.
that’s all. a hearty, sleepy good morning. now go make some coffee or tea or warmed up Dr. Pepper and remember that we were made to show others the Good News today. remember who the real enemy is. big, tired, comforting love!