I have been surrounded lately. Do you ever feel surrounded?
It can be a good thing, or bad, depending on what is surrounding you. I’m betting, though, that the word conjures up a negative response when I mention it. It feels like a hostage situation when you read it; countless movies and TV shows have used it: “Come out, we’ve got the place surrounded.” Doesn’t exactly feel like there’s a massive crowd waiting outside to give you high-fives and presents, now does it?
Though I can quickly list many people and things surrounding me that are good, this past week or two has felt like an onslaught of issues, situations, and even people, that have been instrumental in making me feel as though I have been surrounded by attack. The onslaught for the past 10+ days has been exhausting. In situations like those, sometimes you simply need to triage: prioritize what is essential, and leave the rest.
Hopefully, you and I have effective triaging skills; food, rest and prayer. Yes. Third helping of ice cream? Perhaps not.
As if it weren’t enough that weeks like this come around, it becomes the opportune time for the accuser to whisper lies and accusations at us. “You’re incompetent”, “you’re annoying”, “so-and-so is mad at you”, “this massive thing is entirely your fault”, and so on.
Times like this can be critical, even if they don’t feel like it in the moment. Left unchecked, periods like this can turn into deep, ugly pits–especially if we don’t have a chance to get some perspective on the situation. So what to do? For one thing, I don’t think we can expect to avoid these situations, and so we must somehow be prepared for them before they come. Not that we can anticipate exactly how trials and attacks will manifest–but some basic tools, at least, so that we are better prepared.
A little self-awareness can go a long way. Take a little time to identify the things that you need, as well as the things you turn to in times of stress and crisis that aren’t helpful. My knee-jerk reaction can be to stress-eat chocolate, but taking a walk or taking a moment to stretch does a lot more for me in the long run. Once I became aware of these things, it has become easier to pick something that is more helpful to me in tough moments.
A little God-awareness goes much, much further. When our accuser comes at us, it can be pretty easy to swallow his lies–we need to be prepared with something much more potent. We need to know His promises, and His truths, and pray them confidently. Reading scripture and praying are always on order.
I have also found that speaking God’s truth into a time of trial or pain can be incredibly effective. Yes, literally speaking it.
About a two years ago, a friend hurt me very deeply–a wound that I don’t think they were ever aware of, and one that I don’t believe they intended to inflict. Yet, the hurt was very real, and very deep–I still feel the sting of it from time to time. Somehow, even right when it happened, I was able to recognize God’s truth in the situation. The decision that they had made, I believed, was ultimately the right decision, but the words and actions they took in conjunction with that decision caused me incredible pain. It had to have been Holy Spirit that helped me identify and speak the truth: God allowed this person to have a crummy reason, in order to make the right decision. I declared this out loud the same day, through waves of tears. I spoke it out to myself and my husband, even though we didn’t want it to be true. I repeated it daily, though what I really wanted to say was quite different. I affirmed it to others: God allowed this person to have crummy reason so that His will would be done.
You might still overhear me saying “Right decision, wrong reason” from time to time.
The words started ministering to my heart pretty much immediately. When I was willing to listen to them as they came out of my mouth, I could feel waves of comfort start to approach. God’s will be done. His will be done. It is well with my soul. Right decision, wrong reason.
It didn’t feel well with my soul, not by a long shot; and sometimes it still stings. Yet, I kept speaking the truth out loud to myself, and those who were close around me. Eventually I started realizing how much I knew the statement to be true. And as that washed over me, I also began to recognize the lies and attacks that I had felt in the circumstance–what had actually hurt me–and then was able to start disarming those lies as well. Identifying God’s truth in the situation and speaking it out loud to myself and others made such an incredible difference.
We do that when we pray, have you noticed? At least, we ought to be. We need to recount the good things God has done, and the truth of his character, not only because it glorifies Him, but because it teaches us as well. Nothing compared to God’s Truth when it came to addressing the hurt that I was feeling, and nothing else could have kept me from spiraling down to a horribly dark, terrible place.
So, I guess my point is this: maybe we’re always surrounded. Surrounded by good, and surrounded by bad. And maybe we can choose to learn and speak God’s truth and surround ourselves with it as a shield-wall. Lies have a tendency to crumble under the weight of truth–so why not have some lie-crushing juggernauts ready at any time? But, in order to do that, we need to know what His Truth is.
We, dear sisters, need to be Biblically literate. It is not just a good idea. It could very well be a matter of life and death.
What are the promises and truths of God that you know and hold onto? Have you ever actually spoken them out loud in times of trial or defeat? What happened? I’m dying to know.