During my morning prayer, I shed light on the darkness that is penetrating my heart. Anger, lethargy, and passivity are making their way in. I prayed the Lord help to seal the gaps of my soul, to keep sin/darkness/satan from entering. The analogy of winterizing our homes helped my mind to understand what my heart was asking for.
Keeping our homes in top notch condition is a full time job. Midwestern winters are brutal, without proper care you will find yourself freezing while wasting precious resources trying, unsuccessfully, to warm it up. Let’s really pick apart what this can do to a person or a family. It starts with cold air sneaking into the cracks making us uncomfortable, this can trigger unpleasant behavior…we get irritable and have a hard time thinking clearly and calmly. We turn up the heat in an attempt to warm the house but it’s escaping and we feel resentment creeping in because of we’re wasting money on higher energy bills. That resentment manifests itself in anger and impatience with others, generally the ones we love most. We tend to mask our emotions with those outside our nucleus. Before long, the entire family is feeling disconnected from one another which then trickles down the line to friends, co-workers, and strangers.
This is similar to darkness penetrating the cracks in our hearts and souls which comes in the form of depression and anxiety. We start to experience feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment, impatience, and/or ambivalence. It manifests itself as lethargy, reclusivity, weight gain, and avoidance of conversations and daily tasks. It affects our relationships, work performance, and health.
So what do we do?
Going back to the home analogy, there are a myriad of tools and materials available to keep cold air from entering out homes. Window caulking, plastic sheeting, door sweeps, weatherstripping, thermal curtains, etc. These tools and materials are worthless without taking the action necessary to use and install them. If we buy all these materials and just leave them in bags on the dining room table nothing will have changed…other than maybe more resentment from spending money without result. We must set the time aside to caulk the windows, hang the plastic, install the door sweeps, hang the curtains.
So, how do we adapt this to protecting our hearts and souls from darkness/sin/satan? How do we seal the gaps of our spiritual bodies, our holy temples?
First we go to where all solutions begin…idenitfying the problem. Setting aside the time to feel your feelings. This will be easier for some than others, it all depends on where you are on your path to self discovery. Many of us don’t even know we are feeling feelings…EVERYONE has them, not everyone realizes it…if this is you, there are many resources available. Therapy and meditation are an excellent place to start.
Make a mental list of the feelings you are experiencing. Is it anger, resentment, jealousy, betrayal, despair, loneliness, isolation? If you can’t quite pinpoint the emotion, Brene Brown created a list of the core emotions, I have found this list to be incredibly helpful when I just don’t know what I am feeling.
Pray. When I began my prayer life at 44 years old, I had no idea how to pray, I literally Googled it. Now I have recognized it as a conversation with my closest friend…a friend who accepts me as is, no judgement for anything I do or say…this friend has a bottomless well of provisions, guidance, and divine abilities and longs to give them to me. Whether you need something or you need to rid something, He is there for it! Nothing is too big or too small.
We gather our tools and materials through the word of God, then comes the hard part…implementing them, putting it into action. A show of mercy, forgiveness, grace, compassion, faith, releasing control…expressing our feelings rather than retaliating in anger, avoiding gossip, speaking kind words, supporting others, letting go of resentment, assuming the best of intentions of others, accepting the differences of others, empathy, GRATITUDE, GRATITUDE, GRATITUDE! Celebrating others for gaining the things we want for ourselves…being inspired rather than threatened.
James, brother of Jesus, reminds us in James 2:17 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Simply having faith without implementing it does us no good….simply having the tools and materials without using them does us no good.
As we enter a very difficult season for many of us, cold weather, short days, busyness…for many, the holidays can be lonely and desolate, we must winterize our holy temples…our souls, our hearts…keep the cold and darkness out, and keep the warmth and light in! Pray for the Lord to shine a light, exposing all the gaps where darkness is seeping in. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps.