Tonight I went to battle with a demon that’s been coming at me for years. A demon that had the ability to make me feel hurt, insignificant, tossed aside, abused and destroyed. A demon that had the ability to take something that I once loved and turn it into an open, seeping wound that never healed regardless of the balms I tried to put on it.
I prepared for a big spiritual battle.
It turned out to be the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Maury County School for the Kids Who Don’t Know What Football Is and Really Would Rather Be Playing X-Box or Wii Than A Silly Game Using A Ball That’s Not Round.
I’ll tell you which one was me in a minute.
One of the things God’s been revealing to me since the big reveal last week is how so many of the things that I’ve been holding on to that drove me deeper into depression are really nothing that should be on the board. Wounds from the past are very real and certainly direct how we respond to things but ultimately we can move past a lot of them. Bring closure. Realize that circumstances now don’t match circumstances then.
Or perhaps that the little voice we hear telling us how bad it was isn’t giving us a clear picture.
There was a ministry I was involved in several years ago where my departure was less than amicable. Let’s just say several people (very much including myself) acted in a less than truly Christian manner. There hadn’t been any reconciliation regarding the people in the situation and over the years the memories had a seasoned bitterness. Any time I’d cross something to do with this ministry I’d have thoughts of how I was rejected, thrown away, made to feel as if I had no value, etc. The fact I’d washed my hands of all of them just magnified the feelings and built up the people involved into some kind of uber-nightmare Christians that were the embodiment of what’s wrong in the Christian world. Phonies who play the parts while at the same time being no different than the world around them.
It fed anger. Resentment. Hurt. Pain.
Then we moved to Nashville. The ministry in question is based out of this area. God has blessed this ministry over the last few years and when I reached the rolling hills of Tennessee I thought I should make peace with the guy who heads things up. We had not spoken face to face (or even on the phone) since before all of this went down. The severing of our relationship even happened via e-mail. It would have been very easy to ignore them (although within the first week I ran into people who knew them.) I played e-mail tag with this guy a few times trying to meet up but schedules never seemed to sync. Eventually, I stopped trying.
About three or four months ago I started using one of the resources of this ministry again. I always ignored the parts that weren’t directly related to God or God’s word (such as “we’re doing X, Y or Z in Boise, Idaho next week…) until one day I noticed they were opening a ministry location. Until this point, this ministry really didn’t have a “retail” location so to speak (like a church building) so it’s not like you could pop in and say hi. I inquired about 5-6 weeks ago about it and had the general idea of it’s location but never stopped in. They weren’t “open” yet anyway.
Flash forward to last night. I hadn’t left the house in two days so I thought I needed to get out. I hopped in the car, MP3 player in place, and drove. I had no destination. I was just getting out. I thought I’d just make a big loop and enjoy time with music, movement and an ice cold Arnold Palmer. After a pit stop to pick some things up for my wife, I kept driving and found myself in the same community as the “retail” location of this ministry. I made the decision to see where it was, find out the “business hours” and come back when they were open just to scout things out.
I found it. I pulled in. I saw something as I started to park.
Inside was the head of the ministry. The guy I hadn’t spoken to in years.
I stepped out of my car and immediately it was like a wall threw up in front of me. I could physically feel the pressing back upon me almost imploring me to get back in the car and leave. Thoughts in my head immediately began as well: ”Don’t go in there.” ”You won’t like what happens.” ”It’s going to be awkward to the Nth degree.” “He’s not going to engage with you.” “You’ll be asked to leave.” “Nothing will come of this.”
The demon that for years had been using this situation to torment me found himself in a place where his “power” over me was in serious jeopardy. The ground he long claimed as his was suddenly being taken back. As I stood there, thoughts flying and feeling the urge to flee, I realized something…all of this was nothing more than smoke and mirrors from hell.
What’s the worst that could happen? The guy would ask me to leave. Interestingly, in my mind, that would have been fine. I realized at that moment I didn’t have to let the incidents of the past really define my present and future. My value is not in the opinion of this man but the opinion of God and I know God’s view of me. If his man tossed me aside I could wash my hands and walk away not because of anger or feeling like he may have wronged me in some way but rather because people are secondary to God.
I pushed past the feelings and walked inside. He didn’t ask me to leave. We didn’t really talk about anything about the past but had a nice conversation along the lines of two people who haven’t seen each other in years. He even invited me to come back to a worship service they hold in the building. I’m seriously considering going to it.
As I drove away, I felt physically lighter. Will we ever discuss what happened years ago? Who knows. In a sense, I don’t think that it really matters because I know I’m not the same person from that time. I also know that last night, the enemy lost a big piece of ground in my life.
So let me challenge you a moment…do you have a situation in your life similar to mine where you need to go toe to toe with that demon and take ground back?