These past few weeks I have been in a fight for my peace of mind, my well-being, my sanity, and at times it feels like for my life. Every time I get a foothold on some sense of equilibrium, something or someone comes along to throw it all off kilter. It just feels like I’m always fighting. Small situations become big ones. Minor conflicts become explosive. What shouldn’t be an issue becomes a fire starter setting off an inferno. It just seems like my very being is set ablaze on a regular basis and as soon as I put out one fire, here we go again with another smh.
In conversation with a friend today who is facing similar struggles, the Holy Spirit revealed that maybe the Lord is teaching us in this season to fight in a different way. Possibly, the Lord is trying to move us to cultivate different tools for the fight. We are preachers, so we often preach that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Then we encounter a situation and go at it both guns blazing. I shared with someone that I am 45, and the last time I was reduced to tears on a regular basis I was 25. That was only because I was young and still pretty new in my working career. Since then I’ve been (proudly) busting balls, kicking ass, and taking names for last 20 years. Yet I suppose in ministry you cannot exactly go off on folks every damn day. That is not a particularly godly warfare tactic.
Sometimes when you’ve had to fight for soooooo long, you may not realize that it is time to change your warfare strategy. Early on in my young adulthood, I had to learn to fight which was hard at first. I was too inexperienced to advocate for myself at work (not understanding what it meant to be black and female in white spaces), and to my detriment, I was very naive in my friendships. As I matured and grew stronger, I became an expert swordswoman. These days, I wield my blade pretty effectively.
I keep finding myself embroiled in a bitter battle with the objects of my assignment- specifically individuals God has given me as an assignment and has explicitly said I am to minister to them, pray for them, and speak life to them. This is not the first time God has assigned me to care people who persecute me for my very existence, but in the past I have been able to fulfill my assignment from a significant distance. This time God has me right in the lion’s den like Daniel except wrapped in fresh meat. I have new empathy for Ananais in Acts 9 when God sends him to care for Saul (not yet Paul), the infamous persecutor of believers. More than a number of times I have (not so) jokingly said to my colleagues, “If I perish, I perish” as walked through a certain doorway. There’s something about facing hellacious situations in the church house that causes you to stack up biblical references. Maybe it’s a reminder that others have been this way before. Maybe it’s a fleeting speculation that God might be a sadist.
I think in this season though God is asking something of me that I am having to learn to do, ever so reluctantly. I am learning to fight differently no matter the insanity of a given situation. Can I tell you that so far I am failing miserably? Yet it is imperative that I get this because I believe the Lord is going to keep allowing this to come back around until I do. I know how to pray; I know how to actively listen; I know how to employ the use of narrative and to value the lived experiences of others; I know how to communicate strategically. Hell, I’m thousands of dollars in debt to the federal government from learning those skills. It is just NOT my first inclination in the situations I’ve been facing and I guess it should be. God insists on making it so.