encouragement from the trenches

My friend, Ida Mae, posted a wonderful hope-filled blog this week.   I can identify so much with it, as I  tend to be a worrier and anticipate the worst, without basking in the joy of the present.   I’ve attended funerals I’ve never gone to and ended relationships that never died.  It’ll make sense when you read her wisdom.  I think you’ll appreciate this.


Today I’m remembering a life filled with disasters that never happened. For years, I lived with a sense of impending doom, usually of a mundane variety—a car just waiting for the most inopportune moment to break down. Kids plotting through the night hours  to break something (arms or legs usually).

Occasionally, I cranked up the wattage. The ringing phone meant  news someone crashed, burned, perished and/or drowned in a two inch muddle puddle. Why else would anyone call? I could run the entire scenario through my brain in the twenty seconds it took to find the cordless phone.

Besides the ongoing drama of an apocalypse that never quite materialized, I also carried a suspicion that any unexpected beneficial happening would be followed hard on by an equal and opposite negative event. An unexpected five hundred dollar check in the mail meant the washing machine was about to go out and the replacement would cost six hundred easy. The Good Lord was especially generous that way. To ice the cupcake, I told everyone of His provision and testified to the goodness of the Almighty.

Life was out to get me, I was screwed. I made Debbie Downer look like Pollyanna. I thought this was normal. Hard to live when you’re busy watching for the bus with your name on the bumper.

A-n-y Minute Now. . .

One day, whilest walking in the neighborhood, I spent a quiet  moment reflecting on the mercies of God in a horrible world. My oldest was in Africa—the first kidlet to fly the nest as well as the country. As I trotted about waiting for the sky to fall, I remembered the Father’s assurances to my heart that this trip was okay—to sign the release forms, give my blessing and let go. Everything would be fine.

I expected a call any moment with news of my son’s departure from this earth. The phone bulged the back pocket just in case, ensuring I’d know first. I couldn’t bear the idea of hearing the news from  beast.

I was resigned. My blood pressure hovered around the rupture-an-artery mark.

Images of the funeral played through my mind unbidden. I chose the songs we’d play. I tried to imagine the tears, the grief. I comforted myself with my Lord’s promise and thought how truly things would be fine because this child would be released from his suffering here in the world and would surely be better off in heaven. I replayed the Father’s assurances, knowing I’d press on, everything would eventually be fine. I knew God was faithful.

And right there on that road, I heard Someone I knew pretty dadgum well speaking straight to my heart.

“Is that really who you think I Am?”

Excuse me?

I Have an Enemy and it isn’t God.

And then without a word, my spirit flooded with the understanding of the goodness of a loving Father who tenderly cares for His children. I remembered times of actual sorrow and saw those compared side-by-side with the expectation of disasters that never materialized. I recalled the tone, the touch, the gentle fingerprints all over His loving care and how He held my heart in His hand. I saw How He prepared me for each transition and contrasted that to the gloom and doom of my everyday experience.

I saw—all at once—just  how twisted my thinking had become.

Never once had it occurred to me that I was being robbed.

Robbed of joy.

Robbed of peace of mind.

Robbed of blessing of every variety—spiritual, financial, interpersonal.

John 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Here’s the thing: For years, I did not know my enemy. I was living with the devil. Every good gift, every blessing was tainted and/or stolen. That tends to happen when you’re sleeping with the enemy.

The fear, the torment, the pain had to go someplace. The more I denied my marriage was the problem, then  harder I kept  trying to find a slot to file the overflowing animosity pointed squarely in my direction like a laser sighted missile.

The bible says that God is good and I believed that. Somehow, I blended the reality of my hell on earth with a religious explanation that made no sense whatsoever. I lived every day with someone who  both hated me and had no natural affection for his own offspring. Looking back, it’s not so surprising really that I thought my world was coming to an end.

Denial is a Funny, Funny Thing

Let me assure you—I don’t live in that cesspool  any longer. Once I recognized the enemy for who—and where—he was, I got the message pretty fast. Getting out of a toxic environment improved my outlook instantly. My kids tell me I look fifteen years younger. Looking through the pictures, I believe they’re right.

With every moment, this remarkable joy grows sweeter. It takes practice to learn to walk in freedom. Sometimes I still feel the pull of old ways of seeing both my God and this fallen world. But these days, I’m assured I can trust the future to the One who holds the stars.

When and if sorrow comes–as it does to all of us walking here below– I rest knowing Who will rock me in His arms.

2 thoughts on “encouragement from the trenches

  1. Thank you, Morven, and thank you, Ida Mae.
    Catastrohphism. I’d never thought of it being a way to spiritualise the pain of domestic abuse. But you’ve made it so clear; I can see how catastrophic thinking was a perfect fit with the experience of suffering domestic abuse.

    Isn’t it interesting how we can be super-spiritual in so many disguised ways? A scaffolding of spiritualised ‘explanations’ can serve the dual purpose of (1) giving a plausible explanation for our sadness, fear and grief, and (2) diverting our attention from the real cause of our sadness, fear and grief. We can have the feelings, without having to acknowledge the cause. What complex creatures we are!

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