I have to admit, spiritual warfare and talk about “the enemy being at work” is not something that I remember hearing a whole lot about growing up. I think it is one of those things that 99% of churches tend to gloss over, maybe mentioning in passing, but never really taking it serious. Never really teaching people how to recognize his work or why it is important to know who your real enemy is.
And it should. But for believers, it shouldn’t scare you to the point of running or shying away from life or your ambition or the dreams that God has placed in your heart.
It is no surprise that one of the most important chapters-in my opinion-of the book Fervent is the one in which life got so chaotic that I set the book down for a while and walked away from it. Upon doing that, upon ceasing to pray for my family like I should, upon losing sight of the real enemy at work in not only my life and the life of my family but the world as a whole-I saw tension and frustration and selfishness rear its head in our home.
If I were your enemy, I’d seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it. I’d want to tear away at your trust and unity and turn everyone’s love inward on themselves. I would make sure your family didn’t look anything like it’s supposed to. Because then people would look at your Christian marriage , your Christian kids, and see you’re no different, no stronger than anybody else – that God, underneath it all, doesn’t change anything. (src)
I have been here. I have been in that place where my family-my husband, my children, extended family, myself-all felt like we were the primary target in the enemy’s schemes.
I have watched families and marriages fall completely apart because of this notion of turning their love from outward toward those around them to themselves. We are a selfish, selfish society. Even as Christians and believers we are still-without very intentional awareness and focus on preventing it-all about ourselves. Even the most holy of people have to be aware of it because it’s just programed into our makeup as humans. My own marriage has undergone struggle and trial after trial revolving around the concept and act of selfishness. On both my account and my husbands.
I am learning, slowly but surely, how to be aware of the enemy at hand. The section where Priscilla Shirer talks about the effects of being away from home while she was filming War Room hit home for me in a big way. Even this part year when we went home to Alabama for Christmas, a few days of being outside of our element left us in the same predicament that she wrote about…
…being away from home, out of our element, out of our usual rhythms. But pretty soon the slightest things would set off a disagreement, a misunderstanding. Hot feelings. Short fuses…we were exhausted, not just physically but relationally (pg. 73).
Doing any kind of traveling like that always leaves us (universal us) feel spent and tired and worn. Throw in the stress of Christmas, the awareness of the enemy on that our vulnerability and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen. And most of us, probably all of us, want nothing less than to feel separated and pulled apart at the core of our home dynamic. I have been there. I have been at the point of watching my marriage being ripped apart at the seams and wondering whether or not we would make it through just another day. That’s a scary, depressing feeling.
My husband and I function better as a team. And the enemy knows that. When he can turn me against my husband, my husband against me, us against our marriage…then he has done what he came to do. He has stolen our joy, killed our unity, and destroyed the bond between us. It leaves us at odds with one another. It leaves us thrashing about as we flounder and struggle to stay afloat in this pool of worldly marriage. God wants so badly for our marriages to reflect the covenant between Christ and the church. But we are letting the enemy inside our marriages, inside of our homes, and letting him destroy it.
The enemy knows what sets us off. For me, having worked from home striving not to be “lazy” or feeling like I don’t contribute to our home or our family financially-nothing in the world seems to set me off like feeling like the hours that I log and the time that I put in don’t matter. My husband has his own buttons as well. When we are in the throws of an argument, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly I will push those. Then, we both end up with our feelings hurt, frustration and anger raging between the two of us, and typically acting like small children when we give each other the silent treatment.
We aren’t perfect, and we never will be on this side of eternity, but by learning how to attack the right person rather than turning our word slinging and come backs at each other, we are making progress. We are learning that we aren’t one another’s enemy. We are a team…on the same side…and turning our arrows inward at each other only brings the entire dynamic of our family down.
Lastly, I think the most important thing that I pulled from this section of Fervent was this…
It was never, ever my job to change him. It is my job, my responsibility to love him, encourage him, support him, push him (kindly) to be the man that God created him to be, and love him in spite of his flaws and mistakes. Because that’s how Christ loves me. Even when I make mistakes, and heaven knows I’ve made a ton of them and still make them day in and day out, Christ loves me.
Marriage is hard. It is by far one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. Yet in spite of the really bad days that we have had, we have had really, really great days! We have had days where I wondered if we could bounce back, but every single day I am reminded of exactly why the Lord put us together. It may be hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it isn’t hard, you don’t fight for it. If it isn’t hard, you don’t work at it. And I want to work at it.
Because this chapter was so deep and so full of great content, I’m going to discuss the second part on children and extended family on Thursday!