When not to pick a fight…

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get to the end of the day and feel like I’ve failed. Failed as a wife, failed as a mom, failed as a friend, failed as a Christian…despite my best efforts, I keep hitting a wall and end up defeated and discouraged. I’ve got no fight left.

A few weeks ago, one of our pastors preached a powerful sermon on 2 Chronicles 20 (read the whole story–you will be encouraged!), and I found myself captivated by a question he posed: “are you fighting battles that aren’t yours to fight? Are you trying to win battles in your own strength, when actually those battles belong to the Lord?”

As I thought about that question, I realized that many times in my parenting or my marriage, when I feel frustrated or anxious or discouraged, it is because I am doing just that: trying to “play God” when I am not. If I could just find the right Bible verse to reply to my kids with when they disobey…if I could just change my spouse’s mind on this one thing…if somehow I could make this child understand why this behavior needs to change…if I just do more/read more/declutter more/minimize more/decorate more/serve more/volunteer more/you-name-it…THEN, I could fix this. I could be better. I could win this battle, if I just find the right weapon.

The truth is, what I really need to do most times is what King Jehosophat did: cry out to the Lord in my weakness and say, “Lord, I do not know what to do, but my eyes are upon You!”

The enemy wants nothing more than to distract us from the real battle by turning our eyes to other skirmishes around us and fooling us into fighting the wrong war, the wrong enemy, the wrong way. If I’m not careful, suddenly I find myself opposing my willful child; at odds with my spouse; fighting to keep a perceived image intact.

Scripture is clear that we do not fight against flesh and blood. The real battles are not against those I love and serve; the real battle is in my own heart. Against my own sin. Against what the Enemy desires to do to destroy my relationship with the Lord and with others.

So what DO I do when I feel like a total loser at parenting, at marriage, at friendship, at life? Well, I need to start by crying out to the Lord and asking for His direction. James 1 tells us that if any of us lack wisdom, we should ask God, who gives generously and doesn’t chide us for our lack of knowledge. And then, I need to praise Him. Like King Jehoshophat did when he sent out the singers ahead of his army, I need to get up and praise God for every good thing He is and has done for me. I can praise Him for giving me that child who is frustrating me. I can praise Him for the gift of a spouse, even when I feel hurt. I can praise Him for the chance of community, even when I think I don’t measure up. I can praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and because my identity lies in Him and Him alone. I can praise Him because He already is working to perfect that which concerns me (Psalms).

And then, I can wait for the Lord. Much as I want to, I cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting the hearts of my children to love the Lord and to obey His commands (or mine!). Much as I try, I cannot change the heart of my spouse or make him see things my way. There are battles that are the Lord’s to fight, and then there are battles that are mine. Am I fighting the right battles? Have I been praying for my children and actively seeking God’s wisdom? Have I rooted out idols in my own heart and specks in my own eyes before attacking the ones I see in my spouses’s? Have I been consistent and diligent in training my children, or have I slacked off but still expected the same good results? Have I dealt with my pride and asked the Lord to make me servant-hearted?

Mamas, wives, friends…let’s ask the Lord to show us the real battles, and give us the strength to wage war on the real Enemy. And let’s trust the Lord to do what only HE can do–which is exceedingly, abundantly above what any of us could ever ask or imagine.

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