We’ve all probably heard the expression, “I’m my own worst enemy”. I’ve used it numerous times. In my case, it describes my tendency toward procrastination and self-sabotage. I don’t typically need any outside interference to block me from pursuing or achieving something. I’ve got that covered all by myself.
There’s a delicate balance we must find within ourselves. Some are far too critical of their shortcomings. Others are bloated with hubris and blind to their flaws. Some (like me) overthink everything: decisions, conversations, menu options at the diner! Others seem to run on autopilot. Some assume the blame or responsibility for any and everything. Others haven’t held themselves accountable in decades. We should always be kind to ourselves. As I’ve written before, we’re stuck with us for the duration. We’ve got to make this one relationship work, especially if we hope to have any healthy ones outside of it. This would seem to require a perfect blend of tough love and a firm hand mixed with compassion and a warm hug. It’s not easy. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen lately is to train your self-talk to sound more like what you’d say to someone you care about: a family member, friend or loved one. I like that idea and am trying to implement it in my daily life. It’s hard to deprogram myself from being so negative and critical, but I’m working on it.
Being from the faith-based community, we use the term the enemy to describe the devil or Satan. Over the years, I’ve noticed some people spend a lot of energy on him. As soon as they encounter any opposition or problem, they immediately default to, “It’s the devil. It’s the enemy. Yup, he’s not happy with what I’m trying to do.” They take whatever hiccup has occurred as a negative confirmation. Whatever they’re attempting is now most definitely from God. The enemy is scared of how effective it will be which is why he’s pulling stunts to try and stop it.
Though I believe the enemy is no fan of anyone who follows the Lord and he does try to distract, interrupt or destroy, as I grow older in the faith I’m less inclined to give him credit for much. If I believe God is sovereign (and I do), He is already aware of any foolishness the enemy is attempting. He knows about it and is allowing it.
No one can take God by surprise.
It’s all part of the whole omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent thing. He knows and sees all, from beginning to end. He is permitting the trial or the negative situation to occur. The focus for the believer should be on why He is. Don’t get me wrong. God isn’t orchestrating disease, despair or any terrible event. That’s still the enemy’s forte. What God does is let the circumstances unfold. He’ll use all things for the good of those who serve Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 reference).
Sometimes difficulties are used to help build our faith. Think about it. It doesn’t take much faith to believe in a loving God when your world is running smoothly. But throw some curveballs in: an illness, a loss of relationship or a job, and so forth. Will your love for Him increase or decrease? Will you run toward or away from Him?
You may want to read the book of Job in the Old Testament. It’s the story of a man who had everything, lost everything and what happened next. It’s an interesting illustration. You may feel better about whatever you’re going through once you see what Job endured.
Some harvests have a bitter crop.
I encourage you to do a search on reaping and sowing in the Bible. There are a decent amount of verses on it. A similar worldly concept is karma. The biblical truth is we will eventually reap what we’ve sown. This can either bring comfort or act as a warning depending on what seeds we are currently spreading. If we want to reap a peaceful life, we need to sow peace. This requires being more of a peacemaker than a troublemaker. When I was younger, I definitely struggled with this. I always wanted peace, but I was the first one to stir things up if I felt so inclined. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat and not speak truth, but it must always be delivered in a loving way.
The bottom line is what you are constantly putting out into the world and those around you will eventually return to you. I know this to be true because as I’ve sown negative attitudes or unkindness, it has come back my way. By the same token, as I’ve sown love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, I’ve reaped all of that as well.
God is merciful, so we don’t always suffer the negative consequence for something we did. Thank you, Lord! But there are times He knows we won’t learn the lesson unless we experience the fallout. And so we reap a bitter crop. Hopefully, we learn and change our ways in that area so it’s not an annual spiritual harvest of tears.
Did you know you can partner with the enemy?
No one wants to think about this, especially if you love God. No way are you doing anything to help the enemy. But we may, unknowingly. If we are in a weak moment, or if we don’t stop and pray before moving forward, we can get sucked into something which seems good on the surface, but we later learn is not. I’ll freely admit I’ve been taken in by the enemy coming disguised as an angel of light (that’s straight Bible, look it up).
The thing about Jesus is He lived on earth as a human. He was tempted in all the same ways we are, but He never succumbed to those temptations. Can we say the same? I know I can’t. As we begin to compromise or settle we can find ourselves aligned with the enemy. If he can get us off track or distracted in even the smallest way at first, he’s got a foothold. And, sadly, he’ll keep chipping away at us until that foothold becomes a stronghold. Left to our own devices, we can fall apart quickly.
You know I brought the receipts. (Any and all bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com NIV.)
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God always has an escape route. It just might not be a pretty path lined with flowers. Obviously, it’s better to not get off track in the first place, but it’s such a blessing to know He’s there even if we do.
So is it the enemy or is it you?
I would say each one of us needs to ask this question in any given situation. If it’s a sudden attack of something, it may be difficult to separate and get alone with God right away to discover the answer. But when you have a moment, get with Him and ask the questions, “What is my lesson here, Lord? What would you have me do? Is there anything I can do to fix or change it? Was there something I did or am doing that’s causing or contributing to it?” And when all else fails and you have no words because it’s just too hard, try saying this:
Help me, Lord. I love you and I need you.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. And let’s work a little harder on being in good standing with the person whose reflection we see in the mirror each day, even if she does have toothpaste on her chin…again.
Look forward to hearing from you,