Hi, my name is Amy, and I have a lot of buttons.
This morning in the shower, which is where I do my best thinking, I began to think about the Advent season. Now that it’s November, I’m requiring every ounce of willpower to keep from transforming my home into a winter wonderland. Despite the fact that the grass is still green and the gorgeous leaves are still on the trees, I’ve got the urge to make my house look as if the now-completely-set-up Christmas section at Target has exploded throughout the first floor. The idea my shower-inspired brain landed on this morning was to focus not on the decorations of the season, but the anticipation of the birth of Christ. Somewhere between shampoo and conditioner (rinse, repeat!), I decided I’d like to write an Advent blog series.
And then my brain heard the proverbial record scratch and whispered, “But some people will say you’re writing about faith to make yourself look good when really you’re a horrible person.”
So let me introduce you to one of my buttons – self-doubt. Over the last several months, I’ve been experiencing – no, barely enduring – a deluge of judgment from some well-intentioned and some less-than-well-intentioned people in my life. Some of their observations have been spot on, and I’m grateful for the blessing of discernment, which has made it possible for me to look deeper into my own stuff and make necessary changes with God’s power. But some of their observations have been, shall we say, complete and utter crap. As my brilliant and hilarious friend Janine likes to say, “Usually the judgmental things that are said to us are really about the speaker.” The result of this onslaught is that I, the haver of the self-doubt button, feel the need to retreat, hide, isolate, take my toys and go home so that the mean kids can’t keep telling me that I’m playing with them wrong or that I have evil intentions.
And the devil rejoiced.
Now this is where I need to pause for a moment because some readers may assume that I’ve bought a one way ticket on the crazy train because I just typed the word devil and didn’t refer to cake or eggs. A few years ago I took a leap of faith and wrote about The J Word here on Resourceful Mommy instead of only talking about the G word, which is a much safer, less specific word to use. My focus on saying God rather than Jesus led someone calling me about a potential partnership to say, “I believe you might be Christian.”
I don’t want to might be anything. I want to boldly be a follower of Christ. So let me now take things one step further and say that I not only believe in the G word and the J word, but I also believe in the S word. Satan. At this point I’ve likely lost even some believers because the idea of spiritual attacks is frightening territory. It’s beautiful to believe in a savior who arose from the dead. It’s far less comforting to believe that there is both good and evil in the world and that the evil can reach into our own lives.
But I believe it.
And this takes me back to this morning’s shower and my button-filled life. For those of us who believe in spiritual attacks, it’s a fairly safe guess that satan uses our weaknesses as a way to get at us. And honestly, we make it so easy for him, don’t we? My self-doubt button, for example, sits right next to its best friend, lack of self-worth. I can easily imagine the devil hitting those two buttons like the 1980’s version of me hitting A and B on my Nintendo controller. In fact, when I made the decision to step back from the social media world and volunteer full time at my church, I suddenly began receiving weekly requests to weigh in on a nightly entertainment television program. The topics were just about Of This World as you could possibly imagine, and they were the sort of soul-depleting conversations that led me to run screaming from the shill-at-all-costs online world in the first place. But man, the shiny factor was off the charts. I’d be on TV. I’d be an “authority.” I’d post the link on Facebook and my friends would all oooh and aaah. Talk about a dangling carrot. “Hey Amy, this will prove to everyone that you’re worthwhile.” Button pushed.
But what if spiritual attacks don’t always get us in our weakest places? Yes, this is me finally getting to the point of this post. What if spiritual attacks actually often occur in the places of our greatest strengths, in the very gifts God has given us? Stay with me now…
A few years back I spent a good many hours (and hours and hours) with a therapist working on everything from the ghosts of my past to my lack of work/life balance. The time we spent together was incredibly helpful. One frequently discussed topic was the idea of Amy the Fixer. I’ve been blessed with many gifts including the ability to get things done, solve problems, be…wait for it…resourceful. Unfortunately, that gifting has also led me into some unhealthy situations, even codependent relationships. I remember one session where I told my therapist that my editor called me her very own Olivia Pope, professional crisis manager called in to get the job done where others have created a mess. It was a face/palm moment. Would I ever find balance, or would I always be too much of a good thing?
So I’ve come now to a fork in the road. Do I take my gifts and talents and hide them away in order to avoid my own unhealthy tendencies as well as the spiritual attacks that seem to come when I use God’s gifts for His glory? Or do I quiet that voice in my head that whispers, “But what will they say…” and instead realize that hiding from God’s calling is actually doing the work of the enemy?
The answer is that I’m looking forward to writing my upcoming Advent blog series and am grateful once again for the discernment that has shown me new buttons – my gifts and talents – and armed me with the ability to take the controller out of the enemy’s hands and into God’s.