“…and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:27
Well, as a woman, wife and now, Mom whose mind relishes in running rampant, I feel like I’m practically set up for failure on this one! How easy is it for tiny, diverting (and unkind) thoughts to wedge their way into our stream of consciousness? For me, It goes a little something like this:
"Hubby is home! Finally, I’ll get a break."
"Today was a good, yet long day. I finished most of the laundry, somehow cleaned the sink-full of dishes (and put them away!), successfully got the baby down for two long naps, played with her while she was awake, went to the store for some home-improvement items and now am giving the hubs free time to transition home and relax with some video games. Dang! I am a great wife…and a tired woman."
[Ten minutes later.]
"How long is he going to play his video games? I’m tired too!"
"Hmm…what can I do with my free time? I can work out…ha! I can read, spend a little time working on my novel…or watch the next episode of “This is Us”. I think we have a winner!"
[Thirty minutes later]
"Okay he needs to be done. I was very generous to give him a break and he needs to give me mine now. Why hasn’t he offered? How rude of him! Ugh, don’t look over at me and smile. Can’t you see it’s time for my break?! I’ll bet so and so’s husband thinks to give her a break."
And there it is: My gift is no longer a gift. I am no longer loving my husband; in fact, I’m demanding of him. And, I have allowed a selfish wedge to come between us. Foothold given. Yikes! It happens so quickly and so easily.
I’m usually pretty quick to correct situations like this, but recently, I discovered some footholds I had been blind to for quite some time.
About a month ago, I was up at 3 am, nursing my baby girl back to sleep all-the-while mentally grumbling about the fact that my baby forgot how to use a bottle when she was 3 months old, how my husband’s nipples are completely useless (they should be able to lactate!), and how because of the two aforementioned, I’m the only one who can do anything about the situation.
So I sat there, rocking and grumbling until my mind woke up.
I finally surrendered to the sacrifice I was making and how I was loving my husband well by giving him what I wanted most, sleep!
Then, my mind flipped through memories of my husband’s sacrifices for me. "Wow! He sacrifices better than I do. And here I am, in some ways, still wishing it were him in here instead of me. Why do I think like that?"
I felt crummy and selfish. And then, I started to dislike myself for not being a better person. (Never mind the fact that I am human and that God tells us that there is no one who is righteous and does good (Romans 3:10 — because who grumbling so much takes the time to listen to the Spirit whispering that to them?)
And instead of stopping there, I allowed the thoughts to continue… "Am I the reason? Is my husband to blame? It’s this child! Maybe it’s both. I don’t remember thinking like this before becoming a wife and a mother. Maybe they’re the problem…"
Once again, foothold given. I wanted to cry! This wasn’t the first time I had thoughts like this. In fact, I had let doubt, blame, fear, insecurity and shame rob me of truthful thinking for some time.
In that moment, with as much desperation as I had for sleep, I prayed, “Lord, help me discern the truth from the lies.”
God reminded me, “You are free!”
The very mental world I felt crumbling in on me disappeared. The weight of doubt, blame, fear, insecurity and shame was lifted. I felt light. The footholds were gone and I could see!! God’s grace of Jesus on the cross had already freed me. How did I forget this?
I have the freedom to choose not to listen to the voices that tear me down.
I have the freedom to love my husband in the middle of the night when I am tired and don' feel like it. I have the freedom to enjoy the midnight hours with my suckling babe. And I also have the freedom to ignore my loud emotions saying, “screw it all!” so I can get quiet, wait and listen for God’s tender and firm truth. I had the freedom to choose what my mind does and does not listen to!
The Message phrases this truth so well:
You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time — remember, you’ve been raised from the dead! — into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. Romans 6:11-14
There, in the dark nursery at 3 am, I couldn’t help but chuckle because of this year’s MOPs theme and how I felt: Free Indeed!
Maybe your thought life has also suffered from tiny, diverting (and unkind) thinking. Maybe you have some footholds taking your mind prisoner. If so, I am praying for you right now.