Do the opposite of what the enemy of your soul expects you to do. That is what I was sharing with a sweet friend recently, as she and her family have been hit with a series of trials. That is what I learned long ago and one of the Truths which kept me going... and learning... and growing.
I was thinking of this recently when walking onto my front porch after forging through snow on our lawn and slush on the gravel driveway.
The porch has kept much of the festive Christmas look about it albeit more winter wonderland than anything having to do with glitz and glitter.
Upon walking into the house, I smile at the combined scent of a cranberry candle and dinner on the stove. Looking around, there are bookshelves lined with anticipation, cozy furniture, lovely artwork, and everywhere objects that make my heart sing... not the least of which is a Maine Coon kitty with nose pressed against glass watching for the neighbor's dog.
It took me awhile... years, actually... to live in loveliness without an audience. We rarely get anyone out our way in winter so why dress up the porch? Long gone are the days when I felt like opening my door to crowds (with the exception of the miraculous ability to cook and serve Christopher's graduation open house).
My daughter and granddaughters are too far away for tea parties and I no longer have the health to take part in women's ministries, ladies' societies, home book clubs, etc. where my pretty dishes were used for entertaining. I never know if my husband is going to have a good day or a bad day and there is always the reality of the budget so tight we've squeezed it over and over for an extra couple gallons of gasoline.
So why? Why create loveliness with just myself and a couple guys seeing it most of the time, why continue to collect tea things if only for solitary tea times? Why decide to read good literature and biography and books about gardening and cooking when perhaps a cheap paperback novel would take me away from it all?
Well... it is all about that doing the opposite thing... and faith... and hope... and joy. I have found that the decision to do the opposite and think the opposite and be the opposite of what the enemy of our souls expects in our times of trials and discouragement is... in itself... a form of spiritual warfare.
These lessons forged in the years when everything was falling apart and the reality set in that... God is allowing this journey instead the one I preferred, expected, and desired. Yes, there were months and months and perhaps even years of stomping my feet, muttering, complaining, pouting, crying, sniveling, and generally giving up.
But there came a day when the realization that life would go on... different than planned... but in its' own way not so bad. New ways of living were learned, how to purchase needs and desires really cheap, inexpensive but tasty meals, writing letters or e-mails instead of getting in the car to visit loved ones "in town", making instead of buying, work accomplished a little at a time, and most of all... that I didn't need an audience (aka: company) to live in loveliness.
I have learned I don't have to have a crowd... or even a couple... to have a tea party with lovely music and pretty china and girlie sandwiches. If it were only myself who enjoyed the cozy feeling of a home which has been well thought out and pampered and prettied then it would be fine... but the menfolk like it, too. As long as it doesn't have pink and ruffles except in the corner china cabinet.
Life is what happened when I had other plans and waiting to live while wishing for something different is to deny the gift of Today. But that is what the enemy of our soul expects us to do, you know... fear, fret, grow bitter, give up, and never learn to enjoy this other journey.
Instead, I have learned to anticipate what the Author of this journey I'm on can do with these circumstances and within these boundaries... and He never ceases to amaze me.