Slay That Spirit

The noblechildren have settled in to their new school, I have started my third semester of graduate studies, thenoblehubby is snoring, and this blog has, unfortunately, become forgotten.

By me.

I knew that the start of school would be hectic, but now that things are settling, it’s time to get serious about this project I have committed to. I enjoy the writing, and I also look forward to the reflective spirit that sitting down to write brings me to. More importantly, however, is the commitment I have made to this project. It is not always easy to keep the commitments that we make. This one comes with a certain level of built-in accountability, since some of you have been dear enough to inquire when the next post would come. Thank you for your encouragement, because it means a lot.

Tonight, I would like to update you on a commitment that I made about a month ago. I committed, quite publicly and nervously, to remove certain websites from my browsing list, in an effort to waste less time and spent more time productively.

Well, there is good news and not so good news on that front. The good news is that I have not logged in to any of those websites since I made the commitment. But before you applaud me and tell everyone you know how awesome I am, let me clarify that I am still spending too much time reading on the Internet, so this is still a work in progress. But I am seeing progress, which definitely encourages me to now set my goal a bit higher. We all have our own battles, and this is one of mine…but I am not done fighting.

I wanted to share with you something that happened to me in church today. It helps me process things by writing through them, and I am also asking for some accountability from my friends today for another battle that I am fighting. And that is the battle of irritability.

This morning in church, I found myself struggling with that spirit. I don’t want to step on any toes by going into details, but I will say that I struggle with feeling distracted when I should be praying, listening to a sermon, or even worshipping, at times. Just about anything can distract me, from the sound of someone opening a purse, to the conversations of children, to even the faint creak of the doors opening as someone enters or leaves the sanctuary.

Believe me when I say to you that I wish, more than anything, that I did not have this struggle. When I come to church, I want to be there. You know where there is. It’s The God Zone.

I want to settle into my seat, open up my Bible, and feel the Word just pour over my flesh. I know how it feels to be saturated by the Spirit, and this morning, I was looking forward to being in Sunday School and wallowing in that Word. But unfortunately, I could not disconnect myself from the things that I should have been able to disconnect from.

People coming in late. Fidgeting in chairs. Phones going off.

And, the king of all distractions for anyone who has ever been responsible for an entire classroom of students…yes, you guessed it.

People talking when the teacher is talking.

(Yes, the adults do it, too)

I say this dramatically not necessarily because it truly is dramatic, but because I want you to understand that, to me, in certain moments, it is the most dramatic thing possible. And no amount of sighing, deep-breathing, mind-focusing or slightly-arched-in-irritation eyebrows can change it. Once my comfy place in The God Zone has been compromised, it is almost impossible to get it back.

It is very, very similar to what it feels like when I lay my head down on the pillow, feeling my eyelids begin to droop, hearing my breathing slow in preparation for slumber…and then sit up in bed wide awake.

The moment has passed, and there is no getting it back.

And once that has passed, once those physical distractions have been noted, I sometimes then find the mental distractions creeping in. Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about not just being distracted by the person coming in late, but then allowing your mind to find some other fault or issue with that person.

What begins as a momentary, fleshly irritation can explode rather quickly into judgement and condemnation for any number of things that the mind now wants to bring to the forefront of my thoughts, and before I know it, not onlyhas my focus come away from the teaching, but it now fixes itself on negative, sinful musings.

Why can’t she ever be on time? And why did she take the last bottle of water out of the church fridge before service? She just had one right before Sunday School, too.

And come to think of it, why does she cut her hair short/bite her fingernails/park in my parking spot/wear that dress/talk so loud and…well, you get it now, don’t you?

It looks silly to read, sure. But in the moment of distraction, when my guard goes down and I allow Satan to skip through the playground of thoughts in my mind, it becomes quite serious. And suddenly, I am the right one, and somebody else is sooooo totally wrong.

This morning, after leaving my Sunday School class feeling distracted, I found myself immediately convicted by the Holy Spirit to pray away this negative, crappy attitude. I passed a note (yes, I passed a note…what a distraction) to a good friend who was sitting behind me, asking her to pray with me before the service was over. And when she came to me later, reaching out to take my hands and anxious to become that cord of two, I had to look at her sweet, smiling face and tell her that I was a jerk.

It feels like that. After all, it’s easy to ask someone to pray for you when you are sick or just stressed about life’s normal day to day issues. But it’s not the easiest thing in the world to ask a friend to help you pray that you would stop being so irritable to the people that you love, or having irritated thoughts about them.

She didn’t call me a jerk, thankfully.

She just prayed.

Thank you, Lord, for friends who don’t judge, who accept me with all my faults, and who don’t run when they see me coming.