Josh was home from work early one day last week, and the weather was perfect. He proposed we go to the park.
We began the super easy process of getting everyone out the door, which involved the following: one car seat, one stroller, two bikes, two bike helmets, a Power Wheels car that doesn’t work, an impromptu photo shoot of the baby bird unfortunate enough to have been found in the yard, a few fights over who got to hold the bird, shoes on everyone, a diaper bag, sunglasses, hair in ponytails, trips to the bathroom, trips back inside for a drink of water, and two (yes, two) vehicles (the truck to haul the gear, the van to haul the kids.)
Once we made it to the park, the fun continued.
Three trips down the hill in this ridiculous fashion:
And Josh and I were squabbling.
It started with a snide comment that one of us made that I can’t remember. (Though I’m quite sure he started it and I didn’t deserve it but he absolutely deserved what I gave him back.)
And so we argued back up the hill. And then we argued on the path. And then we argued at the playground. (Not “yelling” arguing, but more of the hushed variety. The kind you can pause long enough to give passers-by polite, friendly smiles and then smoothly transition back into as soon as they are an appropriate distance away.)
No one else does that, I’m sure.
Unfortunately, Josh and I couldn’t finish our business at the park, so we picked it right back up in the kitchen at home. I banged pots and pans just in case he didn’t realize I was angry, and he cut up a salad for dinner. Jerk.
At one point—mid-ugly verbal spewage—I even thought, “Why are we arguing again?” I couldn’t remember what brought the whole thing on, but I also couldn’t stop myself from continuing it.
And so the battle waged on.
As usual, it wasn’t pretty.
We did both eventually say we were sorry, for both the forgotten initial offense and the awfulness that came after it (including the pot and pan banging). And while there’s no question that we behaved sinfully and selfishly and not at all like two people who say they love each other, I maintain that we did not act alone.
There’s something else to blame here too.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
Just moments before sitting down to write this blog, Josh called. Though he had good news to share, our brief conversation ended rather tersely, over something of not importance.
You know what came to mind the moment I hung up? Another conversation from this morning. A flippant comment had been made that had hurt my feelings, but he had quickly apologized and I had forgotten all about it.
But, now, suddenly, here it was again. Demanding attention. Don’t let him treat you like that! Remember what he said this morning? You don’t deserve this! Fight back!
And I would have. But by the grace of God, Truth came to mind.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
My struggle is not against Josh.
There are powers and rulers and authorities that want to run my life.
And ruin my life.
There are spiritual forces of evil at work at this very moment.
They want nothing more than for me to let my anger loose.
They want to destroy my marriage. My family. My dignity.
I. Will. Not. Let. Them. Win.
And so, once again, as always, the answer and the key to winning the battle is the same.
I need Jesus.
Hattie said it best this week.
During a moment of discipline, I chided her for, once again, not controlling her emotions.
She cried, and in her sweet little Hattie voice explained:
“But I can’t control my emotions, Mommy. I don’t have Jesus in my heart.”
And it’s true.
Hattie knows that she has yet to receive Jesus and his gift of life-changing forgiveness, and yet somehow (bless her fuzzy heart) has come to understand that without him she stands utterly defeated in her attempts at being good.
As I held my sweet girl, I remembered. Oh, how we all need Jesus.
Only he can defeat the sin that sullies our hearts and tangles our relationships. Only he can defeat those powers and authorities that, simultaneously, attempt to rip our lives to shreds. Only he can silence the warring thoughts and bring Truth when we are Truth-starved. Only he can take the mess we’ve made and make it beautiful.
Only he holds our victory.
Hattie needs him, and she knows it.
I need him, and I certainly know it.
You need him.
Do you know it?
Do you know him?
You can. Today.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).