Idleness is the Enemy’s Playground

“Trouble makers start fights, gossip breaks up friendships.”  Proverbs 16:28

 

I am a rule follower.  One problem of being a rule follower,  is that you carry the burden of enforcing rules to those who don’t follow rules.  So I become judgmental and condescending over those who seem to live a life of blissful ignorance.  My heart hardens.  Though, the truth is, I have too much time on my hands.  The enemy uses this idleness and destroys things around me.

 

The subject of bad neighbors came up at work.  Co-workers talked about some serious matters with their neighbors.  I cringed at their stories.  Then I told them about a neighbor (on a another street) still having their Christmas lights up and how ridiculous it is since we are in March.  My co-worker (who doesn’t hold back) said, “Are you kidding me?  You reported that?”  I explained that the board members don’t always get around to canvassing the neighborhood, so I look around for them.  If looks could kill, she was not impressed.  She asked, “does it really bother you?”  I said, “no, not really.  It is actually kind of funny.”  She said, “unless they are breaking the law, leave them alone.  You sound like some of the women in my neighborhood that have nothing better to do.”  Ouch.

 

I admit it, I sounded like those nosy, grumpy neighbors.  In my neighborhood, people talk to me about their neighbors in the same way.  It is draining and obnoxious to hear their stories because they were insignificant issues.  Sometimes, while I was walking my dog, I would try to walk the other way when I would see one coming my way.  So, if my co-worker could hear that tone in me, then I was one of those people I was trying to avoid.  

 

The times in my life where I was most unhappy or anxious, is when I had nothing much to do.  If I had too much time on my hands, I wouldn’t use it to better myself, I would analyze my health to the point of being a hypochondriac or look at my neighborhood and complain about everyone and everything in it.  Overthinking turned into confusion and unhappiness.

 

Even my therapist said she noticed that if I found better things to do with my time, I wouldn’t have time to be anxious.”  I knew she wasn’t discounting the anxiety I have dealt with, but she saw that much of what I worried about was not worth worrying about.  She saw I wasn’t busy enough.   Being constructive of one’s time is the goal, not having a full schedule from beginning of the day to the end.

 

Lesson Learned:  Don’t let the enemy use your precious time in the day to further his agenda.  Use it to further God’s agenda.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for causing drama and problems.  Show me how to decipher where to put my thoughts.  Help me advance your Kingdom, not squash it.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Empathy versus Knowing

“So then, as we have an opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6:10

 

I want to fully understand a situation before I move on to the next thing.  This can be both good and bad.  For the good, it is so I can be helpful or encouraging in some way.  The bad, is that I will ruminate over it until I can come to some conclusion.   And in turn, I want for others to come to an understanding when it comes to my situation.  Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

 

The first several months of my daughter’s life were extra stressful beyond the usual adjustment of being a first time mother.  I was lacking sleep and had postpartum depression, and my daughter’s health was in question.  The feelings I had were anger and anxiety.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t very nice to a lot of family and friends and they were not understanding and took it personally.

 

My husband and I took our daughter to visit the specialist and I could feel I was coming down with a UTI (urinary tract infection (sorry for the TMI)).  I felt horrible and I was in a lot of pain.  It was a late Friday morning and I knew I needed to get to an urgent care before the masses would enter at 5:00 p.m. or I would be stuck there for hours.  But when you have a baby, you can’t just drop everything.   Finally, it took 2 hours before I could leave the house and take care of my needs.

 

I made it to the urgent care and thankfully only had about a half and hour wait.  It was confirmed that I had what I thought and he wrote me a prescription.  The doctor seemed to know I was not doing well besides the obvious reason I was there.  He asked, “how are things with the baby?”  I burst into tears and vented for about 5 minutes.  He sat there, not filling out my chart or looking at his watch, he really listened.

 

The doctor said,  “I know what you are going through and it is hard.  I promise you will adjust and feel normal again.  But don’t expect others to understand postpartum depression, especially if they never had it.  It is time for you to take care of yourself and your baby and those insensitive people will get over it.”

 

There are situations that people get wrapped up in life and you wonder why would they feel the way they do or get involved.  But they do.  Some mothers get postpartum depression.  It isn’t because they have nothing better to do, it unfortunately happens.  Just like when you have anxiety and people say, “just relax”.  Well, no kidding, I didn’t think of that…here’s the thing, we don’t want it either!

 

Once I let myself understand why people didn’t get me, I concentrated on what was necessary; and that I would treat others the same way when it came to a situation I didn’t understand.  I was at a bible study at church and saw a friend that seemed to be missing in action.  She had a cast on her broken ankle and was in the middle of a bitter divorce.  She explained the situation and the timeline of it.  I thankfully, have never been divorced or hopefully ever will.  But I let her talk, just like that urgent care doctor let me do.  

 

I gave her a hug and told her that if she needed anything, I was there for her.  She texted me later that day and said, “thank you for letting me vent.  I just needed someone to listen and not tell me what to do or that I was doing something wrong.”  There is always a time and a place for advice and guidance.  But sometimes, we don’t need help, just to be heard.

 

Lesson Learned:  Let’s listen a little more than we talk and try to be empathetic instead of knowing.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I know you hear me, especially in my times of need.  Help me to be that for others when they need to be heard.  Show us what I need to focus on and not be distracted.   In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Social Distortion

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

 

Social Media is a slippery slope.  Many people put things out there to share with their real and social media friends and their families.  Usually it is when they look their best or if something good happens to them.  Studies have shown how it triggers anxiety or sadness to those who constantly see it in their feeds.  The nickname, Fakebook, for Facebook is all too true.  

 

I was on Instagram and a lovely woman posted a picture and wrote about her husband.  She talked about how he is a mighty man of God and how blessed she is to have him be the leader of her family.  I imagined that he gathered his wife and kids and led a prayer everyday.  They probably studied The Bible together and had one devotional as a couple and one with their children.    I felt this twinge of disappointment. My husband goes to church and that’s about it.  But I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Pray for him to be what God would want him to be.  Not what this husband is for his family.”

My mind flooded with things that my husband has done that are awesome.  Here are some good that have occurred in our almost 15 years of marriage:

  • I have seen the toilet seat up 2 times
  • doesn’t play video games or have any social media accounts
  • doesn’t buy the newest gadgets or gamble on fantasy football leagues
  • works hard as a public school math teacher and has missed work 5 days in 18 years
  • takes our daughter on “daddy-daughter” dates every week since she was 4 years old, she is 9 now
  • tells me he loves me and our daughter everyday

I realized, I have it really good.

The fact is the enemy uses social media to create discontent and depression.  I have put myself on social media restrictions because of this very thing.  The moment I begin to feel disappointment, I shut it off.  God wants us to be thankful in all things, not depressed.

Honestly, I am glad that the lady I mentioned on Instagram has a wonderful man of God for a husband.  There needs to be more men like him and my husband in this world.

Lesson Learned:  I know what is true and it isn’t on social media.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father,  remove discontent from my life.  Show me daily your goodness.  Reveal the distractions that the enemy puts before me.  Give me the strength to not give into disappointment, real or manifested by social media. In Jesus’ Name.  AMEN!”

Responding to Other People’s Anger

“If your enemy is hungry, then give him bread to eat and if your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  Proverbs 25:21-22

 

There are days when you receive bad news, you process it and deal with it.  You realize it is may be difficult but God is on our side and there is nothing that is too big for Him.  Then there are the everyday problems that seem to cut us to the core.  They are trivial, but feel like a ton of bricks drop fell on us and we can’t get out.

 

A few things were going on that were causing me some stress.  I was given a work project that was requiring me to work more hours and my mother had been having some serious health issues.  Despite being tired and having some worrisome thoughts on these matters, I wasn’t having a difficult time.  I prayed and gave my cares to the Lord.  Then a small matter occurred with my neighbor and I lost my all sense of civility.

 

Southern California has been baptized with lots of rain (thankfully) but it wreaked havoc on our yard.   One morning,  when I had some free time, I decided to clean the front walkway and backyard.  I planned for this to take 30 minutes the most, but it ended up being 90 minutes of total work.

 

I was raking the leaves and after about 10 minutes, I realized that this task would take hours before I could clear it out.  So I decided to use our leaf blower.  Leaf blowers are annoying and loud but are helpful for bigger jobs.  It was 10:00 in the morning on a weekday, so I figured I was in the clear to use it.  After seeing some progress, I also decided to do some other gardening and bought 6 bags of mulch.  One bag weighed 30 pounds.  I loaded them into the cart and into the car and dragged each bag to the back yard.   My arms and back throbbed in pain.  

 

Several hours later I came home with my daughter from her school and had to begin my other job’s work.  My neighbor saw me come home.  Not more than a couple of minutes of us pulling into the garage,  I received this text message from our neighbor.  It was rude, accusatory and unsettling.  She was complaining about me using the leaf blower.  The gist of the text was she wanted me to tell my lazy husband (her words) that if she could pick up the leaves without using a leaf blower, he should be able to as well.  There are leaves all over her yard because of it and that she threw them all back over our fence (there was trash from her yard happen to appear with the leaves too).  So she insulted my husband who wasn’t even there.  She attacked my family.  I was shaking from the anger.

 

I wanted to text her back some salty words and give her a piece of my mind.  But every time I began to type the text, my hands shook so much, I would drop the phone.  I knew I needed to put the phone down, take a breath and calm down.  Thankfully I prayed and waited several hours before I responded to her text.  

 

All I kept hearing was “hands and feet of Jesus”.  Honestly, I didn’t want to be when I felt attacked.  But I knew, deep down, attacking her was not the way to go.  Her boyfriend has cancer and she seems troubled herself.  We have to drive past their place to leave our home every day.  In everyday life,  we don’t need to talk to them for anything, but I know I didn’t want there to be any issues between us.

 

So I reached for my phone and asked the Holy Spirit to write the words for me.  I responded by apologizing for the leaves going into her yard and how I never would intentionally blow them into their yard on purpose and I offered to clean them up. 

 

She responded back with an apology and how she is overwhelmed cleaning and taking care of her boyfriend having cancer.

 

So, if I went off on her, it wouldn’t have solved or proved anything.  It would have created animosity and enemies.  I am so thankful, that I chose God’s way instead of mine.   

 

Lesson Learned:  It is difficult, but more beneficial to be the bigger person, than getting sucked into a useless drama.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father,  help me to control the anger that wells up when drama comes up in our earthly lives.  Remind me of what truly matters, being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Give me courage to do the right thing that temporarily feeling good, by getting someone back.  Help me see that people are damaged and hurting and to offer encouragement.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”