I had wanted so badly to be destructive and this was my moment. I took my world market coffee bowl and with gusto clanked it on my granite countertops, shattering everywhere. I was stuck with an Egyptian army behind me and the Red Sea in front. I had responsibly trudged through the mud of falling from affluence to affliction as any good Christian girl should. I’m a leader. I’m a doer. I’m a fighter in times of affliction. I refer to being affluent as having been afforded an education and opportunities that make me a leader, doer, fighter. I use the word affluent to describe me pre-trial in comparison with the rest of the world. I buy $14 dollar shirts instead of $24 dollar shirts, but at least I have a shirt and a car to get to Target in order to buy a shirt.
At this point, my husband and I had walked away from a cush, corporate gig to head to the promised land called work-life balance full of hope and faith. 6 months later the most interesting man in the world was still unemployed. With no credit card debt and a Dave Ramsey emergency savings account, we now found that it was weeks from being bone dry. We were literally having a conversation about what to do with our first home we had spent the first 4 years of marriage working to buy all on our own. We got married in school and that’s its own kind of poor, so this is a season I had been through before. We embraced our humble state in faith and the laps through the wilderness just got longer and more confusing. Still, how did we get here? I couldn’t do anything and was battle-worn from forcing my self talk while waiting to feel it. The aforementioned is the sugar-coated version, the real nitty-gritty of depression, panic attacks, and counseling I’ll save for a book someday.
I wish I could say I felt hopeful I would be told I was a “good and faithful” servant, but I was left with shame for my fleshly responses I was not strong enough to control.
I had desperately fed my mind with worship music in an effort to create a Pavlovian joy response, scripture taped on my desk and in my car, wisdom through community and letting other women hear my struggles, self-evaluation and repentance of anything I could dig up in my heart. But my visceral emotions just had not caught up with my self talk yet. This was not only taking a toll on my emotions, but now my mind and my physical body. My go to response was, “I know I am a sinner and I deserve death, but I’ve been sacrificial and responsible and I don’t deserve this.” This was a long season in the wilderness. There were many layers of hurt, fear, terror, and loss that had started out as hope, faith, and resolve.
When this season ended, I wish I could say I felt hopeful I would be told I was a “good and faithful” servant, but I was left with shame for my fleshly responses I was not strong enough to control. I had cursed God, literally. Truth be told, I had every right to be confused and angry at my current reality. My own error was attributing my trials to God causing them in my life. That is a false narrative that I’m desperately still fighting against. The longer the laps through the wilderness became, the deeper my depression, bitterness, and anger took root. But I knew that I had to keep warring with myself. My next strategy was in the form of a little post-it note taped to my desk in my classroom, in my car, and on my heart.
We assume Biblically based self talk is a prescription for happiness, but its a weapon for our minds.
I happened to be reading through a Bible in a year plan and was camped out in Exodus where I found my mantra, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) I so identify with Moses and his insecurities as a leader and the Hebrews’ Egyptian exodus parallels to my life. In leaving Egypt the Hebrews were given a sign-on bonus for their trust and faith through the plagues and passover. The Egyptians had told them to come shop in their homes and take all the loot they could get their hands on as they hit the road. I cannot even imagine the joy and relief after 400 years of intense slavery to walk out of that season with a shopping spree (Exodus 12:35-36) They were a chosen people living in a place of affluence and loving every minute of it, I’m sure.
“You need only be still” was a very different moment. Now that Pharaoh had changed his mind again, the Egyptians were on their way to take back their slaves and their loot. I can imagine the lost hope they felt staring at an army to their back and Red Sea to their front. As panic ensued, Moses told them ,”The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
We assume Biblically based self talk is a prescription for happiness, but its a weapon for our minds. It is difficult to gauge your “hard” with someone else’s, but you do not know the seasons in store for later. The Hebrew people had no idea they would look the Promised Land in the face and have to walk the wilderness for 40 years after God coming to their rescue at the Red Sea.
Just as I cannot do anything to earn forgiveness and salvation from eternal death, I cannot do anything but fight incredibly hard to understand that I need only be still.
The best lesson I learned in my panic and terror during trial was found in this simple mantra from Exodus. Just as I cannot do anything to earn forgiveness and salvation from eternal death, I cannot do anything but fight incredibly hard to understand that I need only be still. I don’t need to make an emergency plan, I don’t need to let my emotions run amuck, I don’t need another therapy…er…coffee date with a friend. I need only be still in each and every moment of the hard. How freeing for your emotions it is when you realize you are actively being fought for and need only abide in who He is and what He has already done to rescue your past and future. The Lord will fight for you comes first in this mantra for a reason. You need only be still because He is at work filling our needs with manna and parting more Red Seas.
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