Are All the Children In?

Are All the Children In
Florence Jones Hadley

I think of times as the night draws nigh
Of an old house on the hill,
Of a yard all wide and blossom-starred
Where the children played at will.

And when the deep night at last came down,
Hushing the merry din,
Mother would look all around and ask,
“Are all the children in?”

‘Tis many and many a year since then,
And the old house on the hill
No longer echoes childish feet
And the yard is still, so still.

But I see it all as the shadows creep,
And tho’ many the years have been
Since then, I can hear my mother ask,
“Are all the children in?”

I wonder if, when those shadows fall
On the last short earthly day
When we say good-bye to the world outside,
All tired of our childish play,

When we meet the Lover of boys and girls
Who died to save them from sin,
Will we hear Him ask as Mother did,
“Are all the children in?”

Advertisements

A Time to Grieve: Understanding and Healing in Times of Loss

By
Candice Vietzke

In every person’s life they will be faced with the task of experiencing the loss of someone very close to them. Many trained professionals have tried to develop ways to cope with this life changing experience by examining those who have gone through this process. Their objective is to find some common ground to help the bereaved understand that what they are going through is normal. However, if one does not actively participate in the healing process that this traumatic event creates it can cause further damage physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The goal is to examine many different models of grief and how they relate to the individual in the healing process. The second goal is to explore the many effects that grief has on an individual and the consequences of not facing one’s grief. The third purpose of this paper is to find ways to help others heal by understanding that what they are facing is a real, to take comfort, and to eventually find hope in this very human condition.

Introduction
Grief is part of the human condition that everyone must face. One can grieve for many things that are lost in our lives such as a job, a dream, a relationship, or a house, but I will be exploring bereavement which is when a person loses someone he or she loved or cared about to physical death. One must learn to acknowledge grief, being willing to face it, and find a place of healing to become a strong emotionally healthy person.

Different Models and Theories of the Grief Process

Freud
Many different studies and theories about how people have dealt with loss over the years have been presented. One of the first to present his theories was Freud. In his Morning and Melancholia paper Freud believed that those who are grieving are searching for an attachment that has been lost and that there were three sections that one had to accomplish in order for the mourning process to be complete. They include a) “freeing the bereaved from bondage to the deceased b) readjustment to new life circumstances without the deceased and c) building of new relationships.” (Hall, December 2011). He believed it was an active process that one must engage in to move on in a timely fashion to reconstruct his or her innermost world so that one can return to normal function as soon as possible to avoid the increase of melancholia that develops when a person fails to follow the three sections. (Freud, 1957). Once the loss is acknowledged, the ego adapts to the loss so the person is able to search for and form new attachments. (Humphrey & Zimpler, 1998; Susillo, 2005).

Kübler-Ross
Several year later Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s created a grief cycle based on her clinical work with the dying. She discovered that when people where faced with their own mortality they went through five stages of grief including 1) denial; 2) anger; 3) bargaining; 4) depression; and finally 5) acceptance. (Kübler-Ross and Kessler, 2005). This model was later used for those who were experiencing the loss of a loved one.

Worden
William Worden (2008) created the four tasks that mourners should complete so that they could actively participate in their healing while still getting help from an outside source. Those tasks included the acceptance of their loss, to process the pain of grief, to adjust to the world without the deceased, and “withdrawing emotional energy from the deceased and putting it into another relationship.” (1982). This last task was closely related to Freud who also stated that you should withdraw you attachment from the deceased. (Konigsberg, 2011). Worden later changed the last one to find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life” since it was discovered that people thought about their loved ones long after they were gone. (Worden, 2008; Konigsber, 2011).

Bowlby
Other stage models include Bowlby who believed that there are four stages of grieving: numbing, yearning and searching, disorganization and reorganization. His theory was based on the security and survival of an individual. When attachments were broken or lost the emotions of anger and anxiety could be expressed in these stages of grieving. (Bowlby, 1986).

Rando
Rando has categorized grief in normal process of grief and complicated grief. In normal grief she puts the process into three phases: Avoidance, Confrontation, and Accommodation. In the avoidance face a person experiences shock, numbness, confusion, overwhelmed, and foggy. Once the shock decreases and the person faces the loss he or she begins the denial process. This occurs within the first five months as survivors begin to face the reality of their loss. Avoidance comes when a person tries to keep too busy so that they do not have to face their reality of life without their loved one. In the confrontation phase the person is hit with the intense pain of their loss. They have to come to grips with the change that this person in no longer in their lives. The last phase of accommodation has the person reinvesting in their life by making adjustments and forming a new relationship with their loved one who has died. Hope once again lives in their future. (Collier, April 2012).

The One Agreement
There are many other models of grief but they all point to a time of great emotional upheaval that takes time to heal. Most psychological theories seem to point to the separation between the deceased and the griever while others think that it is healthy to hold onto the relationship. One thing they all agree on is that it is a complex and unique process that every person must face individually.

The Physiological, Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual Effects of Grief

Physical effects
Our bodies can take on many physical expression and problems due to grief. One can experience fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, difficulty sleeping, pains, and crying. Although there are many important physical effects, I am going to only focus on two of the most common: crying and loss of appetite.

Crying
Crying is often associated with grief and death. But why exactly do we cry? According to Emily Driscoll:

Studies have shown that emotional tears contain more manganese,
an element that affects temperament, and more prolactin, a hormone that regulates milk production. Sobbing out manganese and prolactin is
thought to relieve tension by balancing the body’s stress levels and
eliminating build ups of the chemicals, making the crier feel better”.
(Driscoll, 2006).

According to Gross, Fredrickson and Levenson crying can be method on decreasing sympathetic activation. After the body activates sympathetic responses it follows up with a parasympathetic response to reduce the “high levels of sympathetic activation and restore autonomic quiescence”. (Gross et al., 1994). This brings the body back into homeostasis which is “the process of maintaining a stable psychological state in the individual under varying psychological pressures or stable social conditions in a group under varying social, environmental, or political factors.” (Merriem-Webster online dictionary). But the main reason people cry could just be to communicate to others in a language beyond words.

But this minor physiological benefit aside, the most likely reason we produce emotional tears is because it’s a means of communication.

Before babies can speak, they can cry. The only way for infants to
express frustration, pain, fear, or need is to cry. Adults may use crying
to bond with other humans. Expressing sadness can prompt comfort
and support from peers. Different languages can provide barriers to
spoken communication, but emotions are universal. (Driscoll, 2006).

On the website WebMD they believe crying serves many functions in expressing grief. One is to help release emotions since most people state that they tend to feel better after crying and by doing so it helps them cope with the demands that they face everyday. It also helps people adapt to sad situations as well as a communicate that you are feeling pain and desire comfort. (WebMD.com, nd).

Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is a common symptom of grief. But just why do we lose our appetite. Dr. Trubow believes:

“In the short term, the stressor initiates a chain of reactions that includes shutting down your digestive system. Remember facing that lion? When you’re reacting to stress, the last thing you should do is eat because it diverts blood flow toward the stomach and away from the lower half of our body. This is important because we need increased blood flow to those muscles in order to run! And, while modern-day stressors don’t typically involve lions, our bodies are programmed to respond this way whether it’s life or death, or not. Thus, it makes sense that when you encounter an acute stressor, or grief-causing event, that your appetite is suppressed. How long you remain in the acute stress response is another matter, and is unique to each individual: how you process things, your body type, how resilient you are, and any number of other factors. At some point, if the stressor goes on long enough, you may convert (through a complex chain of events) into a chronic stress response, which, over time, can make you sick. “(Trubow, 2013).

Emotional Effects of Grief
Emotional effects caused by grief besides sadness can be that of anger, frustration, anxiety, guilt, worry as well as longing. One should not suppress any feelings but deal with them in a healthy way. The emotion of sadness wells up inside us and usually is released through tears. Releasing the pain is a very important step in the grieving process. Kubler-Ross and Kessler state “Unexpressed tears do not go away; their sadness resides in our bodies and souls.” (2005, p. 45). Another emotion one experiences through this difficult time is anger. One might question the presence of anger during this process and try to suppress it, but Kubler-Ross and Kessler warns against this course of action. “Be willing to feel your anger even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.” (2005, p.12). Hiding and stuffing ones feelings are clearly not recommended. In the Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman talk about those who have recently suffered a loss but declares that they are fine. They talk about the danger of that statement, “Saying I’m fine merely distracts us and others, while pain and loneliness persist on the inside. The net effect is to create a scab over an infection, leaving a mess underneath.” (James & Friedman, 2009, p. 56). The emotion of guilt may well up inside of us and cause regrets about the things that were not said or done. In our humanness mistakes will be made, but one must know that there will always be regrets.

We all know intellectually that we don’t have forever. But intellect does not inform matters of the heart. Regrets are of the heart, the yearning for more and the change to do it better. And death has a cruel way of giving regrets more attention than they deserve. (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2012, p. 39).
Society often asks us to not show our grief in public for many cannot handle it. Many don’t know what to say. Others are afraid of feelings or don’t want to face or talk about death. Many will tear up if you start to cry and become emotional themselves. One generation teaches the next that showing negative, painful emotions is not excepted in our society. (James & Friedman, 2009, pp.39-47).

Psychological Effects of Grief

Depression
Depression and grief can have many of the same symptoms such as loss of appetite, sadness, and trouble sleeping but that’s where the similarities stop. According to Ronald W. Pies, MD the claim that major mild depression and intense grief are identical during the short period after a loss of a loved one are not true. Those who suffer from major mild depression have thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness or gloom while the grievers usually have a good self-esteem, hope, and positive thoughts intertwined with negative ones. (Pies, 2013). Some refer to this as complicated grief where one does not know how to grieve and then continue with life. Pies explains it as grieving “in a healthy way and adaptive way” as we “integrate the loss into the larger fabric of our life. We learn and grow, even as we ache in sorrow.” (Pies, 2013). With depression it is just the opposite. We do not grow but instead we are broken. (Pies, 2013). People with depression tend to avoid social situations, have trouble functioning at work as well as in other areas of their life. (Hall, 2011). In the book, How People Grow, clinical psychologist Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend tell us that everyone experiences loss but we must actively enter the grieving process. They go on to say that what we do with grief affects our ability to live our lives in a happy, health way for the future. (Cloud & Townsend, 2001). If one does not face the pain of ones loss one cannot heal, form new relationships, or embrace new experiences. Grief does not just go away one must face it to really live and be happy, healthy individuals.

Acute and Prolonged Grief
However, Will Meek, Ph.D. also explores the two kinds of grief, acute and prolonged (complicated), in his article on the Real Stages of Grief. He believes that prolonged or complicated grief can look a lot like depression. He also believes that in acute grief over time one learns how to find relief, acceptance and a sense of meaning out of the loss. One can look back on the memories without it overpowering ones emotions. Prolonged grief, on the other hand, paralyzes ones emotions and causes other negative results such as “fear of forgetting the person, excessive guilt or anger, persistent sense of disbelief, moral indignation” (Meek, 2012).
Spiritual Effects on Grief

Bearing Each Others Burdens
So where does one turn to face this heart wrenching pain everyone must face? Many turn to their faith in God and the healing and hope that comes from Him. C.S. Lewis in his book, A Grief Observed, tells of his overwhelming emotions when he lost his wife. “I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny heartbreaking commonplace.” (1961). There is an intimacy we share we those we love and we can’t get it back when it is gone. Jesus himself knows firsthand this kind of grief and he showed it in the Bible through the story of Lazarus. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and he loved Lazarus and his sisters very much. In John 11:35 we find the shortest verse of the Bible but a very poignant one; Jesus wept. Jesus wept for his friend, but most of all he wept with Martha and the other mourners for he is a compassionate God who sympathizes and feels the pain his children feel. (Hebrews 4:15). In Romans 12:15 God instructs us to to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (NIV) In other words it is a responsibility of every Christian to share in the sorrows of fellow believers. In keeping with what we learned about those who lose loved ones and avoid social interaction that can lead to deeper depression and attacks from Satan we can understand why God put such a responsibility on each person.

Hope for the Brokenhearted
David is another example of one who sought solace from God during his times of loss. When his friend Jonathan died in 2 Samuel he states: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me.” God is a friend to the brokenhearted. Psalms 34:18, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged.” (NET).

Eternal Hope
But what is more shocking is that David grieved for Saul. This is the person who tried to kill him and made his life miserable, but David did not see it that way. He was saddened by the loss of his king, the anointed of God who was now forever lost in eternity. You see God is our hope for eternal life. The Christian knows that if a loved one is saved, although missed on earth, will be seen again someday. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2, NIV). Jesus is our hope, our strength, and our healer. If we put our lives in his hands and trust his will for our lives we can get through anything, even the loss of a loved one.

Conclusion
In this world everyone will face troubles and grief is the one trouble that everyone will face. How one chooses to face and conquer grief is an individual choice. However, as we have learned it is an active process in which all must be involved to move on with ones life after the loss of a loved one. As we live, understand, grow, and heal from this terrible separation we can also find hope in our God. We know his promises are true and that he will heal our broken heart on earth and someday reunite us with our loved ones for eternity.

References

Collier, Elizabeth. (2012). Understanding Complicated Grief from the Perspective of Local Community Bereavement Facilitators and emerging adults on a college campus. TCNJ Journal of Student Schoarship. Volume XIV. Accessed on June 20, 2014. http://joss.pages.tcnj.edu/files/2012/04/2012-Emr.pdf.

Real Stages of Grief Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/notes-self/201210/real-stages-grief.Real Stages of Grief

Beyond Kubler Ross rencent developments in our understanding of grief and bereavement http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/inpsych/2011/december/hall/.

Theories of Loss and Grief. http://www.aipc.net.au/articles/theories-of-loss-and-grief/.

1994 Psychophysiology – Psychophysiology of Crying. http://spl.stanford.edu/pdfs/1994%20Psychophysiology%20-%20Psychophysiology%20of%20Crying.pdf.

Emily V. Driscoll. (October 2006). Why Do People Cry? http://scienceline.org/2006/10/ask-driscoll-tears/.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homeostasis

Dr. Wedie Trubow. (April 2013). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Dr.-Wendie-Trubow/grieving-and-health_b_3177737.html.

Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D. (March, 2012). When does Grief Become Depression. Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-grief/201203/when-does-grief-become-depression.

Cloud, Dr. Henry and Townsend, Dr. John. (2001). How People Grow. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.

James, John W. 2009. The Grief Recovery Handbook. New York, NY. Harpers-Collins

Trusting God

Trust in God is something easily taught but not easily implemented. I agree with the Beverly LaHaye and Lori LaHaye Scheck when they talk about how we as women want to tell God how to run our lives. If something doesn’t go our way or the way we think it should go we question God instead of trusting that he knows best. I like the verse in Isaiah 55:8-9 that says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (KJV). I have to learn to trust Him when I cannot see what he is doing. Beverly talks about the things we trust God with such as our salvation and to sustain our lives. She writes in the book A Woman and Her God, “Somehow we prefer to worry and scheme about things in our everyday world, but we are willing to commit the larger issues into God’s hands.” I had to look back over the years learn to see how if things had gone my way that it would not have been the best way. I love the song Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks. It talks about the girl he wanted to marry in high school and how he begged God to please let them get married. However, later on in life he met and married a girl so much better for him and as he looked back he was glad that God did not answer that prayer. God had something better in mind. We just have to wait patiently for God’s best.

I think that over the years I have learned to trust him in small ways. I see the accidents that have been avoided and the ways he provides for my needs. One day my husband and I were sitting at the dinner table. We were facing a terrible financial crisis. We didn’t even know what or how we were going to eat the next day. As we were sitting there weighing our options my cell phone rang. It was a man who wanted to purchase some of the items we were trying to sell online. He wanted to purchase over $600 worth of items. We were stunned but grateful and thanked God for his provision to us.

I think it is important to trust him in little things so that when the big trials in life hit we can really lean on him. I went through this with the unexpected death of my first husband. He was the sole breadwinner and we had four children. When he died I was not working and I did not know how the family was going to survive. I did not panic but felt a peace in my soul. I cannot explain it. I had just learned to trust over the years and did not come up with a plan. I just leaned on God and he provided in a mighty way. Do I fully trust him? Yes, but I still come up with my own plans, hopes, and dreams sometimes praying that things will go this way or that way. However, I am learning that it is more exciting to see how he will work instead of creating my own plan. He has the best in mind for me and so I am willing to trust him more and more every day and lean on his understanding and not mine.

References

Moore et al. (2003). A Woman and Her God. Brentwood, TN. Integrity Publishers.

Demonstrating the Love of Jesus

Jesus is the personification of love. In the book “A Woman and Her God” Thelma Wells gives us this awesome quote by Dwight Thompson, “You cannot do anything any more or any less to make God love you any more or any less.” (Moore, et al., 2003. p. 126). In John 13:34-35 Jesus calls us to love one another in the same way he loves us. We should as Christians learn to bear each other’s burdens as well as encourage each other as we walk through our lives.

I believe that Jesus is working with me in so many areas. I have always wanted to make those around me happy so that they would love me. I think sometimes I try to do the same with God. I push and push thinking in some way I can make God love me more, but the times I feel his love the most is when I am doing nothing but just listening and basking in his presence. I am learning to love myself more as I draw closer to the Lord. I am his child and nothing can separate me from his love. This gives me the freedom to love in ways I never thought possible as he fills me up with his love and it spills over into the lives of other women.

Caring for others is a challenge in my busy life. Dr. Hagar retells the story about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment while he was on the way to heal Jairus’s daughter. Instead of ignoring her and getting on with the task at hand, Jesus stopped what he was doing and sought the woman out and went that extra mile to let her know that she was loved and had been healed. (Moore, et al., 2003. p. 102). Dr. Hagar also recants the story of a woman who had committed adultery. (Moore, et al., 2003. p. 104). We today are so quick to judge. As Thelma Wells tells us we decide within 6-8 seconds of meeting someone if we will let that person into our life or not. (Moore, et al., 2003. p. 121). Would I have condemn such a woman? Would I have been in the crowd with a stone in my hand ready to condemn her death? Or would I have chosen to come along side of her and show her the love and forgiveness that Jesus did? Dr. Hagar talks about the lessons God showed us in dealing with women. He showed women respect, love, forgiveness, and compassion. I sometimes struggle in this area. I want to come along side of people and help bear their burdens. I want to know all the right things to say but sometimes life gets in the way. I need to be open to those times when God brings those hurting into my life.

Jesus is love and it is only through a relationship with him that we can learn to love and care for others as well as ourselves. I know that God is giving me the wisdom and knowledge through classes like this one to help those who are hurting around me. As God brings women into my life who need care I will listen to his voice and ask for his help to guide others to a place of wholeness through his love, compassion and wisdom. Jesus commanded us to love one another and I want to live out that command by coming alongside others, bearing their burdens, and lifting them up in love.

References

Moore et al. (2003). A Woman and Her God. Brentwood, TN. Integrity Publishers.

Women and the Stages of Life

In the book “A Woman and Her God” it talks about the many stages of a woman’s life as well as its effects on our relationships. The stages include premarriage, marriage, newlywed, pregnancy, birth, parenting, career, homemaking, teenagers, caring for aging parents, midlife crisis, empty nest syndrome, mother-in-law, grandmother, menopause, retirement, golden years and death. (Moore et al., 2003, p. 71). Kathleen Hart states we must know and prepare for each stage of life. (Moore et al., 2003, p. 71). This will help a woman adjust as she moves from one stage to the next.

I find myself not at a crossroads but at a midpoint in life. I look back at all the stages that I have passed through: premarriage, marriage, newlywed, pregnancy, birth, parenting, homemaking, teenagers and empty nest syndrome (Moore et al., 2003, p.70). I wanted to devote my early years to my children so I did give up a lot to accomplish that goal. I have also passed through many seasons including a winter season with a major “suddenly”. (Moore et al., 2003, p. 83). My first husband was killed instantly in a traffic accident. I always wanted to be married to the same person all my life, have my children bring their children over for Christmas and other holidays while grandma and grandpa sat in their rockers on the front porch. That dream died the day my husband did but I knew that God had other plans for me. I had to “grieve” in that stage and season of my life but my relationship with God has been so strong that I have never felt alone. (Moore et al., 2003, p.83). I was able to move past that stage in my life and find new direction in the Lord. He is my purpose for living and I want to please Him above all else in all that I say and do.

I am currently in the stages of mother-in-law, a grandmother and finally career. I am “adjusting” well. It has been exciting passing through all these stages and seasons of life. I have traveled all my life with the Lord and felt that I have trusted Him through all situations. I look back sometimes and miss that stage when the children were little, but I felt I did make the most of that time and now I have many fond memories. Sometimes it is a struggle to see my adult children making mistakes that could have been avoided but I know that God will use it for His purposes. I place them in God’s hands everyday for they were never truly mine but on loan from God. I love them and believe that they will not depart from the ways of the Lord He has made me strong and I am glad that I have leaned on Him through the years.

In the relationship area I do not rely on others to fulfill all my needs. When I look back over the years it seems that I was trying to accomplish this through others. I like what Sandra D. Wilson says about this concept. “The wonderful thing is, the more we sink our roots into the soil of God’s marvelous love, the more we develop realistic expectations for our human relationships.” (Moore et al., 2003, p. 61). People cannot fill the hole created by God. I need to seek Him out. I know that he loves me unconditionally and will not abandon me no matter who else in this life might. I am constantly in process of creating an ideal structure identity for myself through the Lord so that I can be fulfilled in this life. I am inadequate but “The real issue is His adequacy.” (Moore et al, 2003, p. 65).

God loves us through all the stages and seasons of our lives. He wants us to create a relationship with Him that will not only help us through these stages and season of our life but also to grow closer to Him. “There is true hope for Christian women to have a satisfying self-concept, a secure identity, and genuine fulfillment.” (Moore et al., 2003, p. 64). We cannot find our identity or fulfillment in other people but only as a child of Christ Jesus, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17:28.

References

Moore, et al. (2003). A Woman and Her God. Wheaton, IL. Thomas Nelson.

Praise The Lord in Good Times and in Bad Times

Praising the Lord in times of trouble is hard, but if you focus on God instead of your troubles he will not only bring you through but bring you through more blessed than you ever thought possible. Don’t let the enemy tell you lies, squash them with the truth, you are a child of the creator of the universe. So lift up your head and praise the Lord!

Psalm 150

1 Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Wounded Battling Satan’s Army

In the fight for good and evil I have chosen a side. I can see the enemy as he stands poised ready to attack for now he considers me a threat and a deserter. The Lord gently tells me I must prepare for the supernatural battle ahead. He instructs me and gives me the armor necessary to defend myself for these attacks. Gearing up, I firmly buckle the belt of truth around my waist. Next I place the breastplate of righteousness over my chest and fit my feet the gospel of peace. Picking up the helmet of salvation I put it on my head. The sword of the Spirit with its double edged blade gleams as I place it in my belt. I pick up my shield of faith which will extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Standing strong on the sidelines I prepare for war daily as I read the Bible, pray, go to church and learn from my master.

But the enemy is wise. He knows me. He knows my weaknesses. He is waiting to attack when I am weak and vulnerable. He wants to blindside me and hit me at my weakest point. So he waits. He finally fires a test shot to see how I respond. A fiery arrow out of nowhere appears but it is no match for my shield and is extinguished immediately. An unclean thought is aimed at my helmet, but it bounces off easily.

Feeling confident in my battle armor I turn to attack the enemy. I go after his soldiers one by one giving them the good news, telling them of salvation, letting them know they can be free and how to fight against the very army they are in now. One by one I shake the gates of hells army.

Now the enemy is really angry. I have not become a complacent soldier on the sidelines, but a real threat to his kingdom. He desperately seeks chinks in my armor. He finds those people who are closest to me in his army to do the greatest damage. He twists the words of the gospel and the truth. Are we not to love our enemies? Aren’t Christians suppose to take the pain and the abuse over and over again from them? Shouldn’t we try to live in peace and go with the flow even though it goes against the very principles we swore to uphold when joining this army? He sends his mighty warriors to hammer me again again. He knows the power, the guilt, and the language to use from my own family and my friends to try to bring me down. My belt falls off. I lower my shield to them out of love and they strike. Flaming arrows now pierce me. My helmet falls to the ground; my sword now useless. They strike a wounding blow. I lie on the ground looking up at the ones who are suppose to love me and find the demons controlling them staring back at me. They laugh at this now useless soldier and run off to find stronger prey.

Severely wounded I look to my own armies sidelines. They are cheering on the strong and preparing for the time they will enter the battle. I glance to see if there are others like me, lying on the battlefield wounded. I see many, some who have been brought down by addiction, others by gossip, greed or lust. Again I look towards our sidelines. Why aren’t they sending people out to help us? Who will come and dress our wounds and make us strong for battle once again?

As I lay there wounded and oppressed I finally see a strong soldier approaching. Hope rises up in my chest. Someone who cares, someone I can lean on, but he just looks down on me and I could see his eyes analyzing my situation and coming to a conclusion that I wouldn’t make it so he walks on by. Utterly defeated I wait knowing that sooner or later the final blow from the enemy will come. I am defenseless and my own army has forsaken me.

That is all but the commander. I can hear his voice rallying for me, his words of wisdom once again filling my head. My wounds one by one healed by the blood shed for me on the cross. His caring words fill my heart, he has walked where I have walked, he knows my pain.

I stand, a little wiser and a lot stronger. I place the helmet back on my head and grasp the shield firmly in my hand. I know the devils schemes, his lies and deceit better now. I will help those who are wounded, not forsake them or attack the very people who are suppose to be fighting the same war. I will never again will let my defenses down. I will be strong in The Lord and His mighty power so when the day of evil comes once again I will be able to firmly stand my ground.

By Candice Vietzke Sept. 2013