I don’t know what it was about today … maybe my expectations were too high. After all, I invited my best friend and her family over after church today to hang out and have lunch. She brought over her two kids and a nephew, which should have been plenty to keep my kids thoroughly occupied while she and I reminisced and her husband did his best to enjoy our girl-talk (he at least pretended to enjoy it). I expected to have a great time. What I didn’t expect (maybe I should have) was the onslaught of spiritual war that happened all throughout their stay. My kids found every reason to whine, complain and act a fool while they were there, and by the time they left, I was completely out of patience. Our chit-chat over what they could have done differently to avoid the upcoming hour in their room started as the door was closing behind our guests’ departure. I was so aggravated!
After we talked and both stomped off to their rooms, I went to mine. I didn’t want to fall apart out in the open. I sat on my bed and right before I responded to all the frustration with tears and an anxiety-driven prayer, I had this thought: “I’m not going to let the enemy have even an inch in this. We’re at war and I’m in it to win it!” So instead of crying, I took the opportunity to nap. I overslept their hour and right as I was getting good into the REM cycle, my son came into the room and started talking to me. Just a few sentences, followed by enough silence for me to slip back into my REMs. Then he’d come back in and say something else. This went on for two hours! I was more exhausted after my nap than I was before! We headed off for the evening service at church, and then afterward, went out to the state park near our house for a walk. More whining and complaining on the way set me up nicely for a bad mood.
We started off on the trail, and it wasn’t long before there was a mosquito buzzing around my ears, a gnat trying to plunge into my pupil and a horse fly taunting me. Every step of the way. SOOOOO ANNOYING! All I wanted to do was take a peaceful walk! I prayed, I demanded the devil to leave me alone. Nothing worked, it seemed. Finally, I stopped and after a few attempts, managed to kill the gnat in front of my face. Small sort of accomplishment, but it was a victory none the less … until a few feet later, there appeared another one in exactly the same flight pattern with the same destination: My pupil. I let him have it. He dove right in my eye and I thought, “Well, mission accomplished for both of us, I guess.” For whatever reason, another one picked up where he left off and continued to really just grate my nerves. All the while, this horsefly was doing figure eights around my head, my knees and my kids. That was enough to make my daughter batty. But to add to the aggravation, she scraped herself with a stick and began to act as if she had incurred a fatal cut. OH MY GOSH!! I prayed some more. Short of walking the mile I needed to accomplish before turning back, I turned around and headed for the car, praying I could just make it there without losing my mind. It was quite a ways to the car … not so far to go from losing my mind.
Then it happened. It may be described as losing my mind. Probably looked that way from a distance. But I decided it was time for war. I grabbed the walking stick we had found and began to swing at the horseflies. Yes, that’s a plural. It seemed they were everywhere. And some of them were just hovering midair right out of reach. Taunting us! My kids burst out laughing and all the sudden, we were all three trying to kill horseflies with walking sticks while we walked back to the car. The walk I had been dreading turned into a nutty game that restored our joy as we laughed our way back to the car. By the time we got there, we had accumulated quite the entourage of horseflies. There were probably twenty zig-zagging through the air around us and our vehicle, which is incredibly ridiculous to think that they were intentionally pestering us, though it definitely seemed that way. By the time we made it safely inside, though, it didn’t matter. We had made lemonade out of our lemons, our sour faces and attitudes were gone and we were once again enjoying one another.
I learned something in this. No matter how hard you combat the enemy, there is always another waiting to take its place. There will always be battles. Always pesky demons doing their best to steal your joy. In truth, you will always be engaging in battle. If you aren’t, you should be worried that you are not a threat to Satan’s kingdom. If you are, throw a party! You have worried the devil. But know this: you are victorious already. So you can laugh in the midst of trials and tribulations. Make the most of your life. Don’t let the enemy have your joy, because in reality, it’s the most important thing you have aside from your relationship with God. It’s your strength, according to Nehemiah 8:10. The joy of the Lord is what makes your relationships with others enjoyable. So do whatever you have to do to hold on to your joy, even if it looks silly. It’s gonna be worth it!