- I'm faithful to my husband and try to be the best wife I can be, but I don't get the attention I want from him; OR
- I'm unfaithful to my husband, but I find the attention I seek in others?
I think most people will SCREAM at this point, FAITHFUL TO YOUR HUSBAND! ARE YOU INSANE?!
Never fear. I have not lost my mind; I am not unfaithful; he gives me plenty of attention.
Nevertheless, I've been having a REALLY hard time lately emotionally, and the above question is a mediocre metaphor for what God has been showing me. (I'll explain, I promise.)
When I say I've had a hard time, I mean to say engaged in full-on spiritual warfare.
I had been praying and sobbing my way through it for days, when finally, I hid at church Sunday, crumpled on the floor of the dark, abandoned sanctuary.
The church pianist found me there, bawling and praying. She prayed over me. Then, once she left, I quite literally prayed through Romans 8 and Ephesians 6 (particularly the part about putting on the armor of God).
Why, you may ask, was I struggling so horribly? Was someone dying? Had my husband been unfaithful? Had my kids been hurt.
Nope...I felt like a failure.
It sounds so silly, right? Nevertheless, it was what I felt, and it was crushing me.
The enemy whispered in my ear over and over, that I wasn't successful in ANY area of my life: wife, homemaker, leader, businesswoman, writer...FAILURE.
The name followed me around like a cloud; it pressed down on me. It was suffocating.
The prayer session on the sanctuary floor FINALLY lifted the dark veil, and I felt happier than I have in quite some time during the worship service.
Let's face it...this hasn't been the only time I've been reduced to blubbering lately. God has been working in my life in big ways, and sometimes, that can be painful...but MAN, it's worth it.
That night, during some much-needed time away from everyone, I started a book called Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. This morning, I read Chapter 2, and shed tears of joy as I read aloud who GOD says I am...
and let me give you a hint, it's NOT a failure.
Yesterday, I went to a Zumba class at the Y. During one of the last songs, I stopped early on the squats. I hate when I do that, I thought. I feel like such a failure.
I chased the thought away, immediately. I've had enough of the failure nonsense over the last week.
I said to myself, Alissa Shea, you have just completed a class you walked out of 6 months ago. You are walking out happy, with your head held high because you were faithful and came to work out.
Did you catch that? I was faithful because I showed up and did my best.
It was in that moment that it hit me:
I have been looking at whether I'm a success or failure based upon my perceived outcome, instead of my obedient action. I was tied up in whether people were responding to what I was doing, instead of focusing on the fact that I'm just doing what I've been called to do, despite the outcome.
Do you see the similarity in the introductory example now? It's obvious to just about everyone that being faithful to my husband makes me more successful than getting attention, but that's not how we think most of the time is it?
When the blog doesn't get enough hits...
When my husband doesn't tell me I'm beautiful...
When no one notices what I've done...
When people don't respond to my messages...
When me team doesn't perform well...
When no one shows up to the study...
At various times, and definitely recently, I've looked at each of those outcomes and taken them personally. It sounds so shallow doesn't it? Well...it is, but it's the truth.
However, if I've been faithful, if I've done what I truly believe God wants me to do, then I haven't failed.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Here's the bottom line: I know Whose I am. Each and every day, I'm praying that He will guide my paths and make them straight.
For you are all children of God
through faith in Christ Jesus.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
And no matter what, even when I misstep, even when I feel like I've failed, He can use it for my good.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Even when I let the deceiver fool me into feeling like a failure, God can take it and use it for good in my life. And I'm hoping, through my sharing, He can use it in yours, as well.
I foresee a lot of blog posts about this in the coming weeks as I work my way through the book. I would challenge you to come along with me.
Do you fully understand your identity in Christ? Do you fully appreciate the miracle of what's been done for you, and the position it's put you in? Do you fully understand what it means to be adopted as a child of God?
I don't think I do yet. But I'm on my way.