Josiah and I have been arguing far more than normal lately. Frankly, we don't argue much, so any amount is more than normal, but the last couple weekends have been rough...
Verbal, knock-down, drag-out rough.
Screaming, crying, cussing, about to yank off the steering wheel rough.
I'm not going to go into the reasons for the arguments because, really, they're beside the point. I am, however, going to reveal how the Holy Spirit has been working in our lives through it because there are a couple of critical lessons I want to share.
This week's fighting started on Friday afternoon with one VERY poorly expressed text on my part. That's all it took...one text. From there, Josiah felt disrespected. I felt unloved. "The Crazy Cycle" had begun (for more on the Crazy Cycle, look up Love and Respect, by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs).
The cycle churned on into Friday night and, and by Saturday morning, I wouldn't even let him kiss me goodbye when he went to work. By Saturday afternoon, we had said some things that I thought might have caused irreparable damage.
Throughout all this, my sweet sis-in-law, Jamie, was checking in with me to make sure I was okay, and praying for me.
Jamie is one of my people. She's a safe place for me to land my deepest thoughts and my worst marital (or other) issues. She will always protect my marriage and point me toward Jesus.
At one point, Jamie encouraged me to just give everything over to God, to lay it at His feet. She said she just wanted to urge me to put on my armor and get out there and fight.
My reply wasn't pretty.
I told her I couldn't fight anymore. I told her I had, quite literally, laid down and told Jesus that I was ready to just let Satan have it because I couldn't fight anymore. I had prayed and cried and been on my knees, and I just couldn't do it anymore. My armor was war-torn and missing, and I was dying on the battlefield.
None of that is easy to type. It's pretty embarrassing. I'm pretty ashamed that those were my words...but they were. It's honest.
However, even though I had already spoken those words to Jesus, the process of writing them and reading them brought on such a strong conviction from the Holy Spirit.
I typed back to Jamie, Crap! Fine! I'll get one my knees one more time. Okay???
I dragged myself into the bedroom, dropped to my knees, and cried out to Jesus. There was no eloquent prayer, no recitation of scripture...just sobbing and sighing and Jesus help me.
Finally, when I was all cried out, I laid my pregnant self down on the floor. The only thing that came to mind was the song Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli.
Holy Spirit you are welcome here,
come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory God is what our hearts long for,
to be overcome by your presence, Lord.
Over and over, I mumbled the words, until finally, I again had the strength to stand and go back in with my kiddos.
I would LOVE to tell you that, because of all that, my heart was ready to greet Josiah when he walked through the door, but that's just not the case. I am PRIDE-FULL, ya'll. I know that's not actually how you spell prideful, but it's really the most accurate representation of the real me.
Pride-FULL. FULL of PRIDE. That's me,
Lately, Josiah has been working on Sundays, so we've been going to Saturday services at Freedom Life Church in Hampton. We grudgingly got ready for church, not speaking to or looking at one another.
When it was time to leave, Josiah was in the restroom, and I didn't even tell him we were getting in the car. I just got the kids together and got in the van. For a split second I almost got into the driver's seat...almost. But I felt the Holy Spirit's nudge and walked around to the passenger seat.
What I didn't know until much later was that Josiah didn't think he was going to go to church with us at all...until he looked out and saw I was already in the passenger's seat. I had left the driver's seat open for him.
We drove to church in silence. I let him and Emily take the babies to the nursery as I trudged to the doors of the church...and then, a Lindsay happened.
Lindsay is always the most REAL person you can imagine. Her favorite phrase is "just keepin' in real," and that means one thing...you can always be real WITH Lindsay, too.
I grabbed her and gave her a hug that you can only give someone who accepts you like that...the kind where you grab on for dear life and hold on for way too long.
And then I wasn't trudging into church alone...I was heading in with my sister in Christ. And that makes all the difference.
Sometime during the praise and worship, my heart was finally set free and I tried to grab hold of Josiah's hand...and he wouldn't budge...but I held on tight. I knew I just had to hold on tight.
And then...the Holy Spirit had us...both of us, and we held on to one another...and healing began.
In this long, long narrative, there are two lessons I'd like to highlight.
The first is this: we all need a Jamie and a Lindsay...and a few more besides. I am so grateful God has placed these godly women, among other people, in my life. We cannot traverse this earthly journey alone. God made us for relationships.
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
Two are better than one
because they have a good reward for their efforts.
For if either falls, his companion can lift him up;
but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
Saturday night, Pastor Freddy finished up a sermon series on Nehemiah. He said God placed Nehemiah exactly where he was in order to give him influence with the people he needed to in order to accomplish God's purpose.
He said God has also placed US exactly where we are, in a certain sphere of influence, in order to affect the people around us to accomplish God's purposes.
Find people to walk with who will point you to Christ and lift you up in prayer, even when...especially when...you feel like you can't do it yourself.
And BE that person to the people around you, as well.
Second, always get on your knees one more time...and then, one more time after that.
In my prideful despair, I felt like putting on my armor and fighting meant being brave and standing up, but in reality, it simply meant getting on my knees and crying out to Jesus.
He's already won the battle. He already has the victory. Crying out to Him IS how we fight. Giving it all to him and admitting we can't do it alone IS how we stand firm in battle.
I know...it's counter-intuitive.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness."
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power will reside in me.
So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes,
persecutions, and in pressures, concerning Christ.
For when I am weak,
then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
That verse took on new meaning for me yesterday.
And that's why I dragged you through the entire narrative. I'm a story-teller, it's what I do, but I firmly believe that Jamie's encouragement to put on my armor led to my submission to Christ on my knees, and that allowed the Holy Spirit to work in me enough to bring forth healing in our brokenness.
Today, we celebrate Independence Day. I'm very proud to be a citizen of this great country, despite what may be occurring presently in the political realm, and I'm very grateful for the men and women who have fought for my freedom.
However, even more than that, today, I celebrate my dependence on Christ.
The sacrifice he made wasn't in battle, but he laid down his life for me. And now, through my dependence on Him, I am made free.
So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.
Celebrate FREEDOM today, my friends! Happy Dependence Day!