No other book has changed my life and the way I think more than "The Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. The book is so empowering. It has taught me that if we do not take Satan's bate, and if we keep our mind firmly on God, Satan will be defeated and eventually give up for awhile! This was such a great thought.
However, there were two things I didn't realize when I learned this fact. #1: When you become aware of it and become empowered by it, Satan makes it his own little game to try to break you and prove it wrong. And #2: Satan puts up a good fight before he backs down.
It is so crazy to think about the fact that there is spiritual warfare going on all the time in our lives. There is a constant battle being fought for our souls. Wow. When I first started reading the book, I felt sort of weird thinking about Satan so much and the fact that He really is trying to do anything he can to break me down and deceive me until I turn away from God or become absolutely debilitated as a Christian. But he is! And I think the more we're aware of that, the better we can guard our minds against that.
I remember the exact night at our Battlefield of the Mind Bible Study when I felt so convicted and empowered. My life and thought patterns began to change that night. it was Wednesday, September 30...Read that post if you want to see how excited I was :-)
I feel like Satan has been trying to beat me down ever since that day. I think that the first thing he targeted was (and is) my health. The very next day I got extremely sick with a stomach bug that lasted a few weeks. Then I got some sort of sore through, stiff neck, flu-like illness. Then last week I had a cough so bad that all of my stomach and back muscles were sore from coughing so much. And guess what...this week I'm suffering from some crazy stomach pain and more problems. (Although I think this time I've chalked it up to the fact that my lactose intolerance is just getting worse...I guess it's time to try some soy milk :-P) I've had a really hard time staying positive and not pitying myself during these sick times.
The next thing that Satan went after was our finances. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that the engine in our new (to us) car died just a month or so after we bought it. It was totally unexpected, and is going to cost more than half of the price of the car. We now have about twice the amount of debt that we had before we took the Dave Ramsey course at our church last winter. After the course, we were completely out of debt for awhile, so that is discouraging.
Next came the attack on my job. I had been having a surprisingly good school year. Until I found out that they are making me teach a phonics program during my planning period. And the program they are making me teach normally takes months of preparation (writing lesson plans, cutting out and laminating literally thousands of word cards, etc). The administration decided to give me 1 week of prep time. Oh, and I'm still getting paid as an aide (barely over minimum wage). I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about how badly they are taking advantage of me. Although I can't really do anything about it except quit. But I can't really do that until the end of the school year because I do need money! Anyway, it's a very bad situation.
And finally, Satan decided to attack some relationships. My sister and I had a bit of a falling out. Although the situation is mostly resolved, I don't know if things will ever be totally the same between us. And Luke and I have been having silly arguments over things that we would normally not care about.
I really do not tell you all of that to complain. Although it did sound that way, didn't it? :-P But this is my blog, and I am not going to gloss things over just because it sounds better (thanks for empowering me, Brittany!) Ultimately, I'm writing this post to share some encouragement. I know, it doesn't sound like it yet, but just give me a minute ;-)
Through all of this frustration, I have been pretty good at letting it roll off my shoulders. SO not me, by the way. But since I read the book, I feel like I could kind of tell what was going on spiritually. Satan was trying to break me down in every important area of my life until I'm so weak that I'm powerless and I just crumble, and cry, and forget that God is BIGGER! I have been good at holding back the tears and not letting Satan see me cry. I did not want him to have even one small victory in my life. I recited prayers, scripture and praise songs out loud to keep the bad thoughts away. I had been doing great!
Until this week. Tonight, more specifically. I was taking a shower when I just lost it. Negative thought after negative thought just kept washing over me. I was crying pretty hysterically and really feeling like things could not get any worse. I was having the biggest pity party of all time. And it doesn't matter at all how bad things are in my life, there is no excuse for a pity party. And let's face it, my life is still pretty awesome. Instead of stomach problems, I could have cancer. Instead of just adding a little more debt, I could be losing a house. And as far as my job goes...at least I have one!
I bet that during my gigantic pity party, Satan was having a party of his own. Glad that I had finally crumbled under the pressure and lost all hope. But during my pity party, I realized something. I realized that Satan had broken me down, but the real trick was that once I was vulnerable, he had given me extreme blind spots in my vision. I could not see past my own sorrow and pity. I could not see God's power and the fact that He could use every little problem and situation in my life, and turn it into something good. Something amazing, even. I forgot that God is BIGGER.
But then I remembered. Again, I actually think I could kind of see what Satan was trying to do. I prayed that God would let me see again, and that I would not let Satan have victory in these situations. And things immediately changed. My attitude, my outlook, and my mood. I stopped crying. I realized that having a pity party is just a way to doubt God's power.
While I was wiping away the tears, I remembered Bible study last night. I had brought my old Bible from a few years ago, because I had been running late. I love looking through old Bibles and seeing all the bookmarks, notes, and underlined verses. As I was sitting in Bible study, I noticed two bookmarks in my Bible. I turned to the first one. There was one, lone verse underlined on the page: Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." I turned to the second bookmark, and again, there was only one verse underlined on the page: Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." I had thought it was cool last night that those two verses were marked...like God was giving me some hope. But it hit me really hard tonight. Then the weirdest thing happened...The song "It Takes a Little Time" by Amy Grant popped into my head. I'm certainly no fan of Amy Grant, and I've never really liked that song. But there it was, randomly in my head.
Anyway, those verses plus the song made me realize something. God can take any situation and use it for His glory. It may take a lot of TIME, but He can and will do it. Even in these times that just seem so crappy, He has something amazing planned as a result of them. Maybe the mechanic who is fixing our car is struggling financially and our money is going to help him with something big. Maybe through this job that I'm not loving right now, God is preparing and training me for something great. I don't pretend to know what God's plans are, but I know that they are far greater than anything that I could ever dream or imagine.
I know that if Satan is trying to bring me down and defeat me, obviously God must be up to something big. It may not be easy, but I will win this fight. And I know there will be so many more in this lifetime, but God will bring me through all of them, and cause good to come from them.
I know that I'm a big wuss, and the things I'm going through are basically nothing, even if they feel like a lot to me. I know a lot of you are probably going through things that are so much harder or so much worse. Just remember that God will use every situation for good. If we are going through hard times, it must be because God is trying to use us for something big, and Satan does not want to see that happen. So keep your faith and spirits high!