Christian Living

Why You’re Your Own Worst Enemy

Psychological warfare. Merriam Webster defines it as “things that are done to make someone (such as an enemy or opponent) become less confident or feel hopeless, afraid, etc.”

I recently reread the section of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince where Harry makes Ron (and Hermione) think he’s given Ron Felix Felicis, a potion that makes the drinker lucky. Ron is so convinced that he’s unstoppable due to his luck that he does perfectly in their quidditch game. A couple fan fiction authors have connected it back to the power of positive thinking.

We live on a spectrum–one where hope and true positive thinking (that’s grounded in who God is and in who we are as God’s children) are on one end of the spectrum and despair, fear, pride, uncontrolled rage, jealousy, envy, etc. are on the other end of the spectrum. Perspective and faith (or lack thereof) are what move us from one side to the other.

Satan doesn’t need to wreck our lives. He just needs to move us out of faith and we do the rest. If we’re in fear, we won’t take risks. We won’t go after the things God has called us to do or to be. In one of the entrepreneur books I read last year, the author asked something like, “how you would run your business if someone came and told you it would be a multi-million dollar business within two years?” I know it would definitely change how I handled my business. I’d be way more willing to take risks and to put effort into it.

How would you run your life if you truly believed you were a royal child of the God who is sovereign over the universe and works everything out for your good?

I don’t know about you, but it would be way easier for me to fight off despair if I really believed that in every moment. It would be way easier to be less stressed, to trust that things were a certain way for a reason, rather than getting tied in knots of rage or fear or pride or envy or jealousy.

Psychological warfare means that we give up when God’s already won the battle. We give up when victory is already ours. We give up and despair in sight of the finish line. We lash out at other people, destroying relationships when there’s no real reason to lash out.

This is not to say that life isn’t hard. It is. Jesus says “In this world you will have trouble.” But that isn’t where He stops. He says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). Jesus has overcome the world. Past tense. Not future.

You are your own worst enemy. I am my own worst enemy. We have an enemy who uses psychological warfare to make sure of that (1 Peter 5:8).

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More Adjustments

Well, so the benefit of doing blogging this way is that I have no idea what I’m going to talk about before I actually start talking about it. Hope you enjoy a more conversational style 😉

In case you haven’t noticed, there are a few things I’m kinda obsessed with. I have been called nerdy a few times in my life. I love Star Trek (TNG is my fav; not much of a fan of TOS, but I do love the new movies–yes, I know that makes me a heretic). I’ve read more than half of the Lois & Clark fan fiction archive. We watch Speed Racer (the movie) whenever we spend too much time with family and need reminded that faithfulness is key to changing the world, rather than running after any certain careers. I read David Eddings’ Belgariad/the Malloreon whenever I need to remind myself that following God is the short-cut to getting wherever is best for me, even when it feels like getting lost. And I can’t tell you how many days it feels like getting lost. I read Penelope Wilcox’s The Hawk and the Dove when I feel like my brokenness is a hinderance to God’s ability to use me–that maybe by virtue of my absolutely destroyed physical health and sometimes precarious emotional health, I’m unusable, the days when I start feeling sorry for my kids because they have such a sick mom, that kind of thing. I’ve read/watched more versions of Cinderella than I can remember–excited for Disney’s new version! Since it came out, I’ve been reading Rowlings’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows every year around Easter. And this year I celebrate reading Pride & Prejudice at least once a year for twenty years (woohoo!!). I do so love that book. We named our daughter after Jane Austen and Jane Bennet. Someone recently asked me how many books I read more than once and I didn’t really have an answer for that. As I’ve mentioned, books are part of my soul adjustment. I don’t think I could breathe without stories to remind me of what’s true–not that I’m saying that the Bible isn’t more important because obviously it is.

So since it’s New Year’s and time for Pride & Prejudice, I’ve started reading Pride & Prejudice fan fiction (in addition to reading Pamela Aidan’s fabulous Fitzwilliam Darcy Trilogy). I’ve been reading a lot of fan fiction the past 7 months–basically since I got sick in July. It’s amazing how being too sick to function opens up lots of reading time. Anyway! I have read so many terribly written stories that there have been days when I literally have wished I could take my brain out of my skull and wash it. It terrifies me when I realize some of these people actually thought their writing was edited enough to post on the internet for all to read–mostly because I’m scared that my writing is really that bad, but no one has the heart to tell me 😉 (ps–that wasn’t fishing for compliments, just sharing) Today, however, I read a version of P&P that I fell in love with called A Rush of Blackbirds. I could probably happily talk about character development for hours, so I’ll try to keep this short. Basically, the thing I loved about this version is that the author pushed Lizzie until she broke. It could be where I’m at in my life, but I am in love with stories that have lots and lots of angst. There’s something so satisfying about reading/writing a story where people are pushed far beyond their coping capacity and then somehow by the end, things work out ok.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept of fan faction, the author takes well-known characters/stories and basically changes something and then writes about how that change affects the rest of the story or sometimes they write the further adventures of the character. In this version of P&P, the author had Darcy get injured just before Bingley and co. were going to leave Netherfield, which meant that they all ended up staying. Darcy gets over his pride quite a bit earlier in the story. Elizabeth recognizes her own attraction to Darcy quite a bit earlier. I’ve never really spent a lot of time thinking about Elizabeth’s home situation, which is odd given how much my own family has played into my issues and how much Darcy throws her family in her face. This author talked about how traumatic it must have been for Elizabeth to have her father be so checked out, and yet how torn she was because she was his favorite. How hard it was for her to have her mother constantly put her down… for her mother to tell her she’d ruined the family by refusing Mr. Collins. How much she missed Jane, especially when she had some angst in her life and no one to turn to. And how even strong personalities reach a breaking point and need love to heal. It was beautiful.

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An Easter Reminder

Who would have known that I’d be entering such a busy time of life! I suppose that’s just God’s grace–writing about rest beforehand has at least kept it in my consciousness, if not at the forefront. So! I fully intend to get back to my series on rest, however, as it is Easter this week, I thought I’d share some of my meditation leading up to it.

We celebrated Passover earlier this week. I love celebrating the Jewish holy days! They really are a catechism. It was so neat to remember the history of Israel, of God bringing them in to Egypt and then leading them out. Of His provision with the Passover Lamb and the foreshadowing of Jesus as our Passover Lamb. We also just happened to finish reading the Harry Potter series with our kids the day before Passover.

I know some folks really dislike Harry Potter and the magic in it. I have to say though that finishing book 7 right before Easter was so good!

*spoiler alert*
If you haven’t read the series, book 7 is a meditation on the end of Jesus’ life, on the kind of bravery that it took to walk into death knowing full well death was coming… of the bravery it takes to not act. I love how J.K. Rowling talks about love and sacrifice. Harry’s mother’s sacrifice provides a protection that sinks into his very blood and makes his very skin unbearable agony to Voldemort. At the end of the series, Harry’s own self-sacrifice protects all those he loves. And we see this with Jesus’ death. Once we have been brought into His family, we are protected. Things get difficult and painful in the midst of this broken world, but Satan is unable to effect lasting damage on us. We are safe, no matter what appears to be happening around us, not because of some quality in ourselves or because of some quality in our circumstances, but because of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are safe, both from God’s wrath against sin and from Satan’s schemes. It’s incredible! I love that we then take that safety with us every moment of our lives. Even if Voldemort were perhaps to stick a flaming hat on our heads, we would still be safe.

Reading through the Deathly Hallows reminded me of how much I have to celebrate. It’s always easy for me to get lost in the stress of holidays and forget to remember the reason behind them. I pray God  brings special reminders into your own life to refocus you, just as He worked out the end of Harry Potter for me, so that we can really celebrate in the midst of the hubbub that surrounds Easter.

Have a blessed Easter season!

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Do You Like Harry Potter?

This past week we read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to our kids. It was fun to re-visit the book. It’s been all of 3 months or so since I’ve read it. 🙂 But it’s been especially interesting fielding their questions about the story and viewing it through their eyes. They’re fascinated and immediately clamored for book two.

In their minds the series is filled with two kinds of people and only one question is needed to categorize someone: “Does he/she like Harry?” I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve answered that question. However, tonight as I answered that question, I was really struck by its profundity. Harry is Rowlings’ Christ-type. And really life does boil down to that question–so simple and yet so difficult and complex. Do I like Christ?

As the girls have been categorizing these characters, there’s one in particular they have problems with. In book one, Professor Snape clearly loathes Harry, but he still protects him. They had some serious trouble wrapping their minds around that one. It reminds me a little of the first son in Jesus’ parable in Matt. 21:28-32 who does what his father wants even after saying he won’t. Snape’s actions are clearly sending mixed signals. So I had trouble explaining him. And tonight I was thinking about whether I send mixed signals. Do I like Christ? And can people tell that I do?

I’ve definitely been the person who can stand up and give a resounding “no!” In fact, for years, I swung between complete disbelief and absolute hatred of God. Happily, God changed my heart. He rescued me from my disbelief and hatred and gave me trust and love.

But do the people around me know that? Am I being loving to the cashier at the grocery store? What about my neighbors? Or my kids? Are my actions and attitudes sending mixed signals? Obviously, the answer is yes, even on the best of days, because I still struggle with my sinful nature. But, Lord willing, the preponderance of the evidence shows my love for God. It’s definitely a thought that’s going to challenge me as I engage in my daily activities and as we keep ploughing through Harry Potter.

Do I “like” God?