I think that over the past few weeks I’ve been under some sort of spiritual attack. It’s hard to explain how I feel exactly, so I’ll try and narrate where I think this came from. The context is helpful for me too as I start to piece it together.
Some time ago, I started dealing with my problems at work re: conflict aversion and I realized that I’d developed a tendency to run away from my problems. I just woke up one day and realized that everyday after work I’d come home and just waste time on the internet. I had lost the motivation to read, exercise, do normal person things. This hurt at the time but really started to hurt a lot more once I realized that my behaviors were affecting not just myself but also Emily as well.
Around that time, I prayed about these feelings and realized that I needed to start taking responsibility for my life and not just living on autopilot. The first area that this affected was in my work. I started delivering honest feedback to my reports, rather than just giving them appreciation and praise I would try and be constructive and call them out on ways they were damaging the company. The other area that I took this to was in my marriage. For the first time really, I started really challenging Emily in some of her habits. Rather than becoming openly hostile (as I had feared she might be) she actually started to realize areas of Pride in her life and started to confess & repent. Almost overnight, the LORD started to bring healing into our relationship.
The other big area in my life is in my church. Because Reality SF is organized the way that it is, this meant my small group. I started to realize that as I’d stepped out of being a leader, I had also become disconnected from a heart of serving and had, subconsciously taken up a heart of consuming. This heart of consumption had made me constantly evaluate if I was getting a “good deal” from the CG, and the realization that I was not made me back away to a point where I no longer felt that going to small group was a big deal. So in a way, I was also expressing this pattern of “running away” from my problems in my church community.
Once I realized this, I made the resolution that I would no longer back away from my problems and that I would instead deal with them “head on” even though they might be expensive to deal with. Janice approached me the next day and I told her I would commit to making the CG better, even if I was no longer a “leader”. This had a really big effect on her and made me become increasingly determined not to let her down.
I started praying about how to do this, and had a conversation with Ralph later that week where he shared with me his own experience having been a leader for years and then stepping out of being a leader. He shared that when he was in his leadership role, he was super invested and that when he stepped out of leadership, he found that he too became more of a consumer in his approach to church community. More than that, he explained that this led him to realize that he was ultimately in church community for the wrong reasons. Rather than being a leader to serve, he was actually craving the respect and status that came with being in charge. This sounds kind of messed up to admit, but I realized that I was in exactly the same situation. My own feelings about community derived more from the respect and appreciation others gave me, rather than a true heart for living with and loving people. I grew increasingly determined to be more truthful in my life about where I was with God, rather than covering over it.
I think that I was initially able to turn some of this sentiment into a positive impact on the CG when I was able to share vulnerably out of a place of love. When my heart was really about the people, I noticed others starting to admit their desire to be more real in the small group and to realize that they would not be judged for being vulnerable. More than that, I saw that I wasn’t even the most vulnerable one. Others shared that vision too and felt it maybe even more strongly than me. I started to have hope in our CG that I hadn’t felt in years.
I am not sure when exactly, but something in me tweaked. Despite the fact that I could see evidence of progress in the group, my heart started to grow hard. As I began to bring truth to my own life and reveal areas of my own self-deception, I began to expect the same behavior from others. I started to see the sin of others more heavily instead of being able to look at them in a non-judgmental way. Everything in my relationship with the LORD became about sin and sanctification (performance mode) rather than about his capacity to love us no matter where we were.
I started to realize that I was feeling burned out of carrying so many of other’s burdens. This led me to start to draw clear boundaries among some of the most codependent relationships. It also led me to step back from the men’s group that I had been hosting for close to a year. Finally, these feelings have led me recently to withdraw from the CG. It’s now at a point where I find the thought of being together with the CG exhausting and I don’t have a desire to attend Reality anymore. I’m racing through all kinds of dark and negative stuff that isn’t from the LORD and it’s really painful.
So yeah, where I am now is that I’m in a place where I think my heart is hard and pursuing the kingdom feels debilitating. I don’t know that I have it in me right now to love others and a heart to care about them. I also have trouble praying for others right now, and haven’t been able to get into the Word in a meaningful way for a while.
I think I’m under spiritual attack. I’m not in a good place right now.