I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Somewhere along the way, I let the enemy sneak over to me and get close enough to start slowly stealing away my riches.
Piece by piece, he took something away from me, and it was so subtle that I didn’t even notice until I said, “Lord, I don’t know why I feel the way I feel, but something seems off. I used to enjoy life a lot more. And it’s not that I’m not happy- but it almost feels like the little things I loved have either been pushed to the back burner or they’ve disappeared. You say You came to give us life in abundance, so I really want You to show me that. Teach me, lead me, give me that abundant life, and let me see where things have gone wrong.”
And just like that, little by little, I’m taking it all back.
First, he stole my time. You can’t waste your time doing _____. You have so much else to do that’s more important. And just sleep in a bit- you’ll wake up with that second alarm, and besides, God doesn’t want you spending time with Him if you’re just going to be all tired and grouchy in the morning anyways. Liar.
I’ve somehow turned what was supposed to be a part-time job as a journal shop owner into a full-time gig. I don’t have “full-time” time. I’ve sacrificed the important things in my life to make books and follow formulas for growth, and I’ve also abandoned an appropriate bedtime because I listened to the lie that I needed to get things done now! All for what? When I say “yes” to the wrong things, I have to say “no” to the right things. Like enjoying this very short season of motherhood I’m in, and waking up before sunrise after a restful night’s sleep to spend time with Jesus. That’s the good stuff. Since then, I’ve taken back my mornings with the Lord. Yes, I’m tired, but it’s amazing to me how quickly I really will wake up when I stretch, get a drink, and sit down with a wide open Bible and a wide open heart. Jesus does want to spend time with this sleepy mama- because just like Nadia, He gets excited for me to open my eyes and say, “Good morning!” And when I go to bed on time, it’s not a sacrifice at all.
Next, the enemy stole my marriage. You don’t have the extra money for date nights. You have so many other things to worry about, and besides, you have a healthy marriage. Neither one of you has eyes for anyone else, so you’ll be fine just how you are. Liar.
God handpicked Dana and I for each other, and He has graciously provided us with enough money to live on, give to others, and also- yes- splurge every now and then on ourselves. Investing in time away from the home together is crucial. Since not having a date in a years time, I’ve come to be snippier, somewhat disconnected, and resentful that he gets adult interaction at work while I’m home all day cleaning up messes and talking about Clifford the Big Red Horse (a Nadia joke- she knows he’s a dog, but she thinks calling him a horse is much funnier). I’ve been very unpleasant to be around some days- My husband has a hard work schedule, but he comes home every day being so sweet to me. There’s nothing easy for him about 12 hour days on swing shift, and he needs a wife that will still run and jump into his arms when he comes home from work instead of running on autopilot and saying, “How was your day? I have dinner made” as if I’m a robot. Some days, he stops me when I’m walking down the hallway because he wants to pause with me for a minute during our busy days just to give me a hug- and do you know what I do? I act as though that’s a distraction from my more important tasks. I’m ashamed at my behavior. It’s not easy for me to admit that I’m a less than perfect wife to my ever-so-loving man, but it’s the truth. We need to be us again. Dana and Marybeth. Not Dada and Mama. And if we don’t have the extra money for frequent date nights, we’ll both work overtime to get it. Since then, I’ve learned to stop HIM in the middle of the hallway to give him a much needed hug in the middle of our crazy days. I’ve learned to ask him about his day and really listen and respond. We’ve planned some fun date nights that are more like “bucket list” dates than anything else (more on that later), and although it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, I’ve learned to slow down with him and appreciate that he is mine and I am his.
He took my health. Honestly, it’s not like you’re overweight or have any big issues. You don’t need to worry about exercising so much, especially when you have so many other things to get done. Isn’t playing with Nadia more important? Liar.
Playing with Nadia IS important. But so is my health. So is my sanity. Exercise isn’t about looking good for me. It’s an added perk, but it’s not my main motivation. When I work up a good sweat, I’m stronger, more patient, happier, more ambitious, and yes, I’m a better mom. Besides that, I want to set an example with the way I use my body and fuel it in the kitchen. My body is a temple that’s indwelled with the Holy Spirit. He deserves for me to do my part in taking care of the functional parts of me while He does His thing taking care of the spiritual parts of me. Since then, I’ve started running. God put it in my heart one night to throw on my headphones, crank up some music, and run. And I ran. And I ran some more. Day by day, I’ve been running- and you know what? It elevates my heart rate in more ways than one.
The enemy stole away my hobbies. You’re not ever going to be a concert pianist, so is it worth it? Look how great these other people are- you were never that good, even in your prime. That part of your life is done so just move on. Liar.
No, I’m not a great pianist. I overuse the sustaining pedal no matter the song. I can’t read sheet music anymore without saying, “Good Boys Do Fine Always” just to figure out if I’m supposed to be playing a B or D. I used to sing like it was nobody’s business- because it wasn’t anybody’s business- but I stopped doing that, too. Because comparison is an ugly thing, and the enemy knows just where to stomp on my heart. But I took piano lessons from 5th grade until I finished high school- and it cost $5 a week + 40 minutes in the car (during years when gas prices were high), and my parents worked HARD for that money just to get me the music lessons I didn’t know I wanted at the time. Piano lessons taught me about practicing, patience, focus, restraint, among countless other things I didn’t know came in the package. And I’ll be damned if I let that be wasted any longer. So I’m reteaching myself how to play. Slowly, one note at a time. One chord at a time. One song at a time.
You know I can add more onto this list. Probably at least another 30 or so things I’ve had slowly stolen from me. But I’ll save some time and finish with this-
God is good. He’s faithfully answered that humble prayer of mine as I sought His help in living abundantly. It’s not perfect, and there’s still PLENTY I have yet to learn, but each time I discover a lie I listened to that took away something that brought me joy, I repent and react. I change my mindset and my behavior. I rebuke the devil who is only out to destroy and distract. I say, “Thanks but no thanks- today I want to live in abundance” and I turn off that first alarm, grab a drink and my Bible and I spend time with the Lord. During the day, I work during appropriate hours, reclaiming my very part-time position as a journal maker and then the rest of the time I laugh my butt off with the girl who gives me both heart eyes and a full heart (because y’all, if you’ve been given the opportunity to be at home with your young kids, embrace it fully. You have nothing to prove to the world! You’re doing important work there!!) Then I sit down at my piano, stumble across the keys, sing my heart out with joy. I write in my gratitude journal, run around outside with arms swinging however they feel like moving during that time, and I sometimes snag a bath with lavender oil or I quickly shower and thank God for 5 minutes of peace. I write letters and see friends and I experiment with tofu in the kitchen, all the while laughing at how I used to try to mask it and see if Dana would notice that he wasn’t eating meat. And I hug my daughter often, and kiss my husband like I mean it, and I go to bed knowing I lived the best I could that day.
Lord, whoever is reading this, I ask one thing- that you’ll show them the places in their lives where the enemy has lied to them and stolen something that was precious to their hearts and souls. Open their eyes to see where they need to either hit the brakes to slow down or make a U-turn to reclaim what was once theirs. Show them how to live abundantly just as you so wonderfully showed me. That is something only You can do, Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.