Wednesday, August 2, 2017

There Is No Spoon...

"There is no spoon..."

I don’t know why, but this phrase from the movie, “The Matrix,” has been stuck in my head.  If you haven’t seen the movie,  I won’t go into plot details.  But in this one scene, the main character, Neo, sees a small boy bending a spoon using his mental/"supernatural" powers.  After Neo unsuccessfully tries to do the same, the boy advises Neo to change his perception of how he sees the spoon:

"Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth...there is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

I’m just going to get straight to the point- the last few weeks have been challenging.  In my last blog I mentioned that the devil will try and attack, and oftentimes he will use the very people around you to try and discourage you.

Well, I’ve run into a few situations with certain people that have become quite frustrating to deal with.  These particular individuals have been mean, rude and downright passive aggressive, which has bothered me so much to the point that I have to pray over them prior to engaging with them.  Y’all, I even have to pray over my mouth too!

I’ve always had a “smart mouth” and God has specifically been working on changing that.  And while I’ve gotten better, these last few weeks revealed that I still have more work to do.

In fact, while talking complaining to God about my difficulty with these particular people, He recently provided clarity in His straightforward, simple way.  His response?

There is no competition.

Simple right?  Yet, so profound.   Immediately after I heard this, I thought about Spoon Boy.

 But not to get sidetracked- in this case, God wasn’t talking about these combative individuals specifically.  More so, He spoke about the devil and his ways. 

In this statement, God reminded me that the devil attacks when he feels threatened.  And knowing how best to explain what I was dealing with, God even used some psychological concepts to drive the point home.

So, let’s take the concept, “fight or flight.”  In order to survive, we naturally make decisions that will prolong life (i.e. our existence) when we’re presented with something we find dangerous.  In other words, to continue living, we either fight the perceived threat in order to survive or flee from it.  Now, please note, this survival instinct has been modified to “fight, flight, or freeze,” but for the sake of keeping it simple like God, I’m just going to focus on the first two.

Now there are countless examples of figures in the Bible who followed this same instinct of “fight or flight” in order to survive (in fear for his life Moses fled after he killed a fellow Jew, David fought Goliath, the disciples fled after Jesus was arrested, etc).  It’s a natural defense mechanism and God reminded me that the devil isn’t any different.

Whenever Satan feels threatened by you…whenever he senses you or something about you may be dangerous to his life (dangerous to the existence of his evil ministry/army), he chooses to do one of two things: fight or flight.  In my opinion, it seems lately the devil has been choosing to fight.  And unfortunately, he has chosen the very people I have to engage with to assist in his warfare.  Now, I don’t know if these people are aware that they’re aiding the devil by bringing negativity.  It’s frustrating regardless.

So I wanted to use this blog to break down God’s instructions on how to overcome this current battle and I’ll start by repeating God’s simple response:
1.  There is no competition.  We only fight back when we feel threatened as well.  However, God wanted me to understand that there was no need to fight because there was nothing to feel threatened by. Scripture states that God has given His children power over the enemy:

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  ~Luke 10:19 (NIV)

Would it make sense for an adult to fight an infant?  No!  Would it make sense for a giant to fight an ant?  No!  Why?  Because most adults would not feel threatened by a baby because that baby lacks power in comparison to that adult.  Additionally, most giants could easily overpower a tiny ant; further more, an ant’s presence would be insignificant when standing next to a giant.  

A lot of times I end up hurting myself by engaging in non-fights-- situations where I feel I must defend myself or go into battle mode when there’s really no need or point.

 God had to remind me that my well being, more specifically my peace of mind, was not in jeopardy just because a situation was running its course.  God had to remind me yet again that the devil in these situations was still powerless over me.  Just like the Spoon Boy from “The Matrix” had to encourage Neo to alter his perception, God’s instruction first encouraged me to see the bigger picture and see my situation for what it really was.

2.   Remember (and reclaim) my identity.  Through God’s initial response I also have to remember who I am in Christ.  Because God dwells in me through the Holy Spirit, I have to take hold of my power again. I have to reclaim my strength.  I wasn’t made to succumb to the devil’s tricks.  I was made to overcome them.

3.   Focus on God, not the situation.  I don’t know how many times God has said this to me, but apparently I still need to hear it!  God wants me to focus on what He’s doing for me, not what the devil is trying to do against me.

4.   Show love.  I’m going to be real: I’m making this the last point in God’s instruction, because it’s the hardest and honestly, I don’t want to do it.  God was quick to firmly call me out about my reactions to these people’s negativity and He challenged me to rise above it by showing love.  I will say this again, though:

 I. Do. Not. Want. To Do. This….

But I will because I know it’s the right thing to do and it would please God.  But how do I love the very people who have caused strife and frustration?  God reminded me of a previous time I was presented with a similar situation.  If you can recall, a few entries back I had written about my experience with another individual who had a very difficult personality.  The message had been the same even then: God wanted me to show love.

And in order to love the very people who frustrate me, I have to do a few things:

-Separate them from their actions.  Mind you, God does the same with us.  He separates us from our sin, poor decisions, and negative actions every day.  So I have to extend that same grace and mercy to others as God extends to me.  Doing so allows me to see their humanity again.  They’re no longer evil people, per se.  They’re just making decisions that I perceive to be mean-spirited.

-Remember “It’s not you, it’s me.”  That annoying cliché of a statement is actually true.  Most of the times, the underlying reason a person is mean or negative to someone else has nothing to do with that other person.  More so, the offender may be dealing with personal issues (stress, health issues, family/relational issues, etc) and may intentionally/unintentionally take it out on you.  I also realized that insecurities and low self esteem play a major role in how people treat others.  So for right now, each time an individual says or does something that’s mean-spirited, I visualize them actually saying, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

-Check myself. In order to show love, I have to have humility.  In order to be humble I need to be honest with myself and call out any negativity I may also be showing.  In some cases, it may very well be me and not the other person.

Overall, I have to continue to remind myself that it’s all about perception.  There is no spoon, but most importantly, with God working in any situation, there is no competition.  And even with the “fight or flight” phenomenon, Scriptures teaches us how to make the devil take flight:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
~James 4:7 (NIV, with emphasis from this writer).

If it is in God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”  God bless!

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