my enemy danced…

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the Funyun story

Know what Funyuns are? It’s an onion flavored corn snack. A treat. Salty/crunchy, so right up my alley. It’s what my two cousins had in hand as they sat outside my Mammie’s house when I was about five. They sat on a bench together with the bag nestled between them… within their reach but out of mine. They smugly munched away.

I was on the outside in every way that day. And it burned. Not a part of their group and not a partaker of their snack. I hungrily looked on as they gleefully withheld from me. And though they saw me salivating a short distance away, they didn’t offer me a one. No, I had to ask for what I wanted. Begged, really. The conversation went something like this…

“Can I have one?”

“No.”

“Please let me have one.”

“Well, we’ll let you have one but you have to eat dirt first.”

So I did. Or at least I tried to. I crammed a handful of dirt in my mouth for just a few seconds before spitting it all out. I sullied my mouth in order to gain a moment of satisfaction. A treat.

And what did I get in return for my labor? One stinking Funyun. They tossed it in the dirt beside me. That was my reward. And so I picked it up from the filth and ate.

Yep, it’s this Funyun story that’s played out in my head again and again in recent months. And I used to laugh about it. But the truth is, it hurts. Because I was reacquainted with that feeling just a month ago. Mind you, my situation was nothing at all like the sought after Funyuns. And I had no real cause to feel as I did all those years ago.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly how I felt.

Begging for crumbs and pilfering through dirt…

the explosion

Several of those closest to me have said on more than one occasion I’m too hard on myself. And in this season of my life, I’m finally coming to see things their way. I’m ready to admit the truth.

Why yes, I have been too hard on myself. And yes, I have set the bar too high. Indeed, I’ve set unrealistic goals impossible to attain through my current station… as a busy mom of a nine year old and a baby, I simply cannot do everything I want to do. Not now, at least. Understanding dawns and I’m at peace with it.

Finally.

But for years and years, I didn’t. And I tried. I strived for the one thing I wanted. Perhaps ever since the day I ate from the dirt. For over thirty years I’ve struggled to attain the one thing denied me. Until last month, that is. See, it all came to a head. There was a climax of sorts. An explosion as the truth erupted from my fissured heart.

And when I dared voice what lie within, I trembled. I quaked in terror. And when I told my husband, he asked me incredulously, “Is that what’s in your heart?” He shook his head…

“You better be careful,” he said.

His words lay heavy on me. As did my own.

dancing with the devil

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat. Luke 22:31

My enemy danced on the dark night of my soul. It’s true. And likely, he’d been dancing for months. Because I let him deceive me. I entertained the accusations he whispered in my ear. “Now Pam, does God really care about you? Look at what’s happening… you’re trying to do all this stuff for him – cramming an already tight schedule – and yet, he won’t even give you a good night’s sleep? Surely, if he loved you he’d give you what you wanted.”

And so, he led and I followed. The devil’s such a good dancer, I couldn’t help myself.

One, two, three, four, twirl…. why isn’t Annabelle sleeping through the night? She had been before! Why now when it’s most inconvenient?

One, two, three, four, dip… what in the world! Doesn’t God know I have to do so much tomorrow… why is she up from 1 to 3 a.m.

One, two, three, four.

One, two, three.

One, two.

And, one.

My enemy had me. I was dancing along with him. His whispered words became my own vocal ones. And worse, they filled my heart. A heart deceived. Falling for the one who told lies. Believing the lies he told.

I quit

Truth is, I quit God this past Summer. I petered out. It began in June. That’s when my time diminished. And yet, that’s when I had the most to do. A deadline. Self-imposed, of course.

Naturally, this is when Annabelle began waking through the night. The pressure was on. I did my best to stay even-keeled but failed miserably. There was late-night cussing. An exploded diaper as it hit my kitchen floor. Hard. When Jason roused, I yelled out “I quit!”

“What do you mean, you quit?”

A logical question. I shrugged or said I didn’t know. But I did know. Because that was the night I quit God. In my heart, I did. Because I thought I was doing all this stuff for Him. I thought the deadlines were for Him. I thought I was knocking myself out for Him.

And so the fact He didn’t give me a full night’s sleep for weeks on end pushed me to my limits. I was angry. Worse yet, I was angry at my God. Because I felt He was denying me the one good thing I wanted. And needed. Sleep. I needed the sleep to do the things I wanted to do. For Him.

I don’t believe

The dark night of my soul came the end of July. That’s the night I told God I didn’t believe He loved me. I know, I know. This is shocking. And terrible. And so ridiculous. A flat out lie.

But this is truth. This is what I said. It’s what I meant. I believed it as I lay on the couch in the midst of darkness and Annabelle’s cries. My insides boiled. I said it more than once, too. Loudly. Vehemently.

“I don’t believe You love me!”

I accused God. All because God didn’t give me the one thing I wanted. He said no to my requests. I repeatedly asked for Him to quiet Annabelle. To soothe her. To let her sleep so I could sleep.

His answer was no, though.

And it caused me to stumble in the most grievous of ways.

Ultimately, I denied Him. I denied Christ. For Romans 5:8 tells me that God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For me.

And the realization that I denied Him caused me to weep bitterly.

the end of me

What happened this Summer was inevitable. All of it. It had to happen because it led to the end of me. The end of striving and overachieving. Because I was forced to ask a question, “Who am I really doing all this for?”

Is it really just for Him? And His glory? Or is it for me and mine?

Thanks to this Summer, though, I have a clear understanding of why I do what I do and what makes me tick. Or what makes me go tick-tick-tick-boom. It goes back to the Funyuns. The incident that was part of my foundation. And my make-up.

See, the world’s upbringing shaped me into a woman scrounging around in the dirt begging for a scrap of something I deemed to be good. My one aim.

As a child, it was Funyuns. As a young girl, I craved love and notice. And now, as a forty-two year old woman, I just wanted a little recognition. Some appreciation for all the stuff I do. And to get that, I kept a full calendar. Thus, sleep seemed to be a necessity.

But God denied my request for the one thing I desired. My journey became more difficult. The road wasn’t paved with ease. And so I faltered. And doubted Him.

grace

I have to be honest. I worried for a while after the things I said. Because what in the world?? Today, though, I’m thankful. It all had to happen. The Funyuns, the explosion, sleeping with the enemy, the doubt and despair, and yes, even the end of me. Because finally, finally, He has me just where He wants me.

I’m done. Nothing left of me. Stripped of all I’ve been striving for. And all I’ve been longing for. Because after saying what I did, I was scared He was done with me. DONE. And that’s when I realized just how much I need Him.

Him and only Him. And so I’m ready.

Finally, finally, I let His grace wash over me. Because I need it. I need Him.

Oh, how I need Him. More than I need me. More than I need a Funyun coated in dirt. More than recognition. And yes, even more than sleep.

Because I can’t do this thing called life without Him. I just can’t.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul. What might his affliction have been? Three times he pleaded with God to remove it but the answer was no.

And I think of me. What a weakling I am to get so bent out of shape over lost sleep. However, I’m thankful I did. Because it led to my meltdown. To my explosion. And for me to say what I was really thinking. The ugly truth.

However, I didn’t find God’s wrath or punishment. Or condemnation.

Instead, I found grace.

In the most unexpected place.

In a little tan house on a small back road, a sleepy, forty-two year old woman finally accepted the gift of God’s grace. Finally. Because for the first time she stopped depending on herself and began to depend on Him. Because she needed to. She needed Him.

And finally she realized it’s true. Finally. His grace is sufficient for thee.

It’s sufficient for me.

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