Letters written from a momma to her two teenage daughters.
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Last night you and I had a conversation together, just the two of us. Lauren was at a sleepover so we had time to just be one on one.
You talked about knowing yourself, your love language, how you’re ‘wired’ and also about desires you have for the future. Good desires, life changing, God given desires and how you wanted to be careful that knowing yourself, and who you are might adversely affect your ability to reach those desires in a God given way. Obviously we talked much clearer than I am right now in public. But the point is…rather than just saying confidently that you would ‘never’ do something or ‘fall into a certain trap’, you admitted…it might be a temptation even though you don’t want it to be.
That’s a healthy conversation to be having Lydia. You know yourself. You know God’s best and you want to make sure that although you plan to follow after God, you don’t get messed up because of temptation. You realize that temptation is real and that you are not above it.
I think this is exactly where God wants you to be.
As soon as we think we have something mastered and that we would never fall or commit ‘that’ sin like somebody else would…we set ourselves up for failure. We are never that totally in control. We must rely on God everyday in every moment to help us overcome temptation.
All of us are prone to certain things. It’s easy to look at others and their temptation and see them as weak or stupid. It’s easy to judge. We are foolish to do so. Satan doesn’t tempt us in areas that others are tempted in…he tempts us in areas that are weakness in our own lives…or even strengths taken too far. He knows us well, and knows how to appeal to us in ways that when we aren’t paying attention we might fall for.
So number one…if you are tempted and you happen to give in at some point in your life…repent, get back up and draw closer to God. All of us fall to temptation. All of us need grace. Shame is not from God. He wants a relationship with you so desperately that He already has forgiveness waiting for you right when you need it.
Secondly…be careful, you know where you are likely to be tempted, be careful to keep yourself out of situations that will make it easier to go there. Don’t allow yourself even one step down that path. Don’t reach a point where you think you’re strong enough to handle it and can say no later. An alcoholic can never have a drink again…it’s not about management, it’s about abstinence…we all have areas that we have no business ever being a part of. If you know this in advance and don’t have to walk the hard road of hitting bottom…your life will be so much better. Sin has ugly consequences.
Third…trust God to guide you. Listen to His voice. He will never lead you astray or into sin. The Holy Spirit will give you opportunity to leave temptation behind as long as you are in tune with Him. 1 Cor. 10:13 I believe is the memory verse that keeps coming to my mind. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man and God is faithful to provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Something to that effect.
The temptation you will feel…everybody feels it. We all struggle with wanting to reach our desires in ways that aren’t Godly. We all struggle with wanting to be loved and to belong. We have far more in common than we realize. God is faithful…He can’t be anything but faithful. He always provides a way out.
Sometimes the way out is just not going in the first place…avoidance. Sometimes the way out is when we have started walking down a path we shouldn’t and His still small voice reminds us in our minds that this is not good and we should leave. We must listen to that voice. Sometimes the way out is a slammed door or a big event that God Himself orchestrates. Sometimes…we don’t take the way out and we suffer the consequences and even then God is faithful to restore and redeem.
You knowing yourself well, knowing your desires well and admitted that although you don’t want to mess up you might is the healthiest place in the world to be.
As a teenager…I remember being far too confident in my ability to stay on the straight and narrow. I knew all the right answers. I wasn’t going to be like other people who made bad choices…or so I thought. Foolish thinking as I now have the perspective of time. None of us has all of the answers. None of us is strong enough. All of us are prone to wander. All of us are in need of grace.
Lydia, I pray for you that in your strongest areas of temptation you will follow the voice of God, that you will say no and not place yourself in situations that would be bad for you. I pray that you will so desire to be “God’s” that things that might tempt you will lose their power. I pray that you will know God’s grace will cover you in your times of need. I pray God’s best for your life.
You have God given desires…you were made by God…if under God’s guidance and control I think your life will be amazing. And I get to watch. I am cheering you on. Your openness and willingness to express temptation and weakness that might hinder you is incredibly refreshing to me. It’s exactly…where you need to be. You’re listening to God more than you even realize. He will be faithful in your life to complete the good work in you that He has begun.
Love your momma who has faced her own areas of temptation…some I’ve overcome, some I’ve given in to. All covered by the grace of God.
Dear Lauren and Lydia,
It’s really important that you learn how to recognize the darts/arrows/lies that Satan and his forces will try to throw at you. The reality is there is a constant battle between good and evil going on around you. You don’t realize it most of the time. You go about your business doing what you need to do to get through in a day. You eat, sleep, work, play and all the while there is a battle going on.
Every once in awhile we have moments when we get a clear view, a moment when we realize that the daily life we live is not all there is. It can happen in a huge variety of ways. The close call in your car when you know that had an angel of God not just protected you, you could’ve died or been terribly hurt. The times when you hear of people having cancer like this morning in church and then being healed amazingly where their cancer is entirely gone. These are clearly times when you realize that the Lord is on your side and fighting for you. These are amazing moments. Moments when you realize the Word of God is true and that the Lord surrounds you and hems you in and guards your life. Moments when you realize that God is so very intimate with you that He is aware of the numbers of hairs on your head right now.
There are other times all interspersed through life when if we’re paying attention we’ll realize that evil is just as present. Have you ever been used to bring harm to somebody else? Have you ever said a careless, unkind word, ever gotten in a fight and not even known why? Well I would attribute a big part of that kind of thing to your flesh and the selfish way you were born into to live in a fallen world…but guaranteed Satan is part of that whole thing too. He seeks to destroy us, not through clear ways but mostly through deceptive, subtle ways. He gets us caring more about ourselves than others. It’s not a far stretch. He encourages us to work so hard or to seek pleasure so much we don’t get our rest. He whispers thoughts/lies into our heads that we way too easily buy into. And for me girls I can tell you, he regularly seeks to derail me through my dreams.
I don’t know if you’ll be the same way. But I want to prepare you in advance if you are. Sometimes my dreams are so real that when I wake up it’s as if I can’t shake the awful feelings off for awhile. It feels more like a memory than a dream. I’ve had them for so many years now that I do more quickly realize it and can speak truth to overcome them but the battlefield in my mind when I sleep is real. It’s not just a dream. I don’t believe that it’s just because of something I didn’t or did eat. The kind of dreams I have are meant to paralyze me with fear and insecurity. They are meant to shake me and what I believe. When I wake up I have a choice…I must choose what I will believe.
I’m writing because I just woke up from one of those kind of dreams. They usually involve Mark, they often involve ministry, and most generally they’re not good, no happy endings. It’s a rare thing for me to have a good dream, especially with Mark. When I do I know it’s only because of God.
Maybe this is a compliment in a weird way. I don’t tend to feel attacked by Satan all day long like many people do. I sense God’s presence strongly most days. I’m very aware of Him, I look for Him, talk with Him, try to listen to Him and draw closer to Him. But at night, it’s easy for my mind to become a place of target.
Because I know this…I can take each arrow, each lie and throw it back by the power of God and stand strong and not believe a bit of it. I can wake up and remember what God has done and is doing and realize that my dreams are not my reality.
But it took me a long time to come to this place. I was one of those girls who after a really bad night of dreaming could easily wake up upset with Mark the next day and him have no idea why. It was illogical…and took me a while to piece it together.
This may not be your experience. Satan knows how to worm his way into whatever works in our lives. You must figure it out. You must take the time to realize there is a battle between good and evil and sort through where you are most prone to believe lies.
Look for areas that get you thinking that you aren’t special, that nobody loves you, that the people you love are not reliable. Look for thoughts that are repeated that bring you down. God is not the author of such things. Look for moments when you are irritable and rude and go back and think through what made you get that way. Do an investigation into your mental situation. That’s where the war is won or lost. Who are you listening to?
God will always lead you in ways that go side by side with what He says in scripture. God is not the author of confusion or mistrust, or insecurity, or anger, or grief, or sadness. God is not the author of irritability and rudeness. God finds you to be of priceless beauty and others around you to be of great value too. God does not lead us down paths where we think poorly of others. God does not keep throwing our past in our face. God does not operate in our lives out of guilt and shame. Once sin is dealt with it is removed from His view. God speaks love into our lives, truth, beauty, kindness, grace and mercy, he stirs our hearts towards compassion and justice. He helps us to think of others instead of ourselves. God brings order to our chaos, peace to our souls, conviction where necessary and a firm hand to redirect us but then also great love in walking us through our sin. God disciplines as a good parent would, reasonably, fairly. God does not smack us down or insult us or cast hateful words at us. God doesn’t lose His temper with us.
You must learn to recognize what is from God and what isn’t. Because you must be open to the correction of the Lord. A wise person is. We need the voice of God in our lives in the same way we need air to survive. We need the direction God gives and the love He pours out into us so that we can live in accordance with who we were made to be.
If you buy into Satan’s lies you’ll know it. You’ll feel defeated. We are more than overcomers through the power of God. You’ll feel self doubt and mistrust. You’ll feel insecure and think of yourself too much.
I strongly urge you even now to pay attention to your moods, pay attention to your attitudes and sort through what causes you to go in certain directions. It’s not just random. It’s not just a bad day. No there is a battle on and you must be prepared in advance to fight it. Read Ephesians 6. You must know the Word of God. You must be living the good news, you must be strengthening your faith through trust in God, you must choose whose side you’re on and stand firm. You must seek to know Truth, not a relative truth…but capitol letter TRUTH. You must realize that the Holy Spirit is living inside of you. And you must be watchful and pray.
I don’t live in fear of Satan. I don’t look for him behind every bush in my life. That would be paralyzing to me. I realize much of my struggle is inside of me with my own flesh and blood. But I do know that Satan is real and that he would love to destroy me. He would love to rip me out of the arms of a loving God just like a kidnapper would a child out of a parent’s arms. I rest in God alone. He is the only one who can fight this very real battle. But I must do my part as well.
Take the time to notice repeated patterns and repeated thoughts, repeated situations and repeated struggle. There’s a reason why we struggle and live through the same stuff over and over. It’s worth our time to think it through.
For me today, after having another bad dream about Mark I awoke and again had to remind myself of who your dad was and is. I know the truth so even if the enemy tries to attack me his arrows do no harm. The Lord hems me in. The Lord is with me. The Lord is my stronghold and my anchor. The Lord fights for me.
From your momma who wants you to stand firm against the fiery darts of the devil and to resist temptation. Who wants you to recognize the battle and for you to have the armor of God to overcome whatever is thrown at you. You are on the winning team. Satan is not. He made a choice just as you make a choice. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.