Friday, February 26, 2010

Happiness Under Attack

Imagine eating a sweet and sour lemonhead. The candy's sweetness wears off slowly in spots to reveal bursts of the the lip puckering center as it twirls around your tongue. Except for the first and last taste, it is never "just" sweet or "just sour." Instead, it's an amalgamation of the two.

This is me. One emotion starts, then is tempered by another until neither is pure enough to let myself completely fall into it. How is it that a single human being can experience simultaneous, conflicting emotions? I don't understand it, but I live this irony every day.

My husband can provide way too much proof of how my sadness, loneliness, and hurt bubbles over into anger before simmering down again into an even deeper sadness and penitence for that anger. It seems I can never "just" be sad...or "just" angry without the two weaving themselves into an Chinese knot that'll take me a good bit of time to untangle.

Now, once again, I've fallen into the well of conflicting emotions.

For the past five years, building our house has been on hold, plans gathering dust on the shelves. When the project stopped, I was devastated. All the furniture had been chosen. A huge folder housed books and lists with all my selections from fans and light figures to counter tops and paint chips!

But when our "worst case scenario" happened, God gave me a Bible passage just for me, one that gives me comfort even now when I read it: "Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation" (Hab. 3:17-18).

House or no house, I would praise and serve God. And I have done just that.

But I have also day dreamed, visualizing my new house any time I needed an escape from our present house's problems...and also any time I needed to be reminded of God's promise to me that this day of restoration would come: "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you" (Joel 2:25).

My visions have been my faith walks. In them, the house is always bathed in light. It's never too hot or too cold as I step from room to room. The colors and furniture placement never change. I don't trip over any toys or shoes out of place. Beautiful. Spacious. Airy. Holy. Perfect.

I've been flitting in and out of this dreamworld for the past 5 years, just waiting for the happiness to break forth into reality.

And one week ago today, it happened.

Before I was even out of bed, the slab for our new house was being poured. A cool, God-given day dawned perfect for pouring and drying concrete and a short shower overnight to finish the process.

Seeing the house's outline traced in the dirt with wood boards brought fresh tears of happiness to my eyes. Watching the concrete poured in the forms by swirling mixer trucks. Watching the skeleton walls rise like a Phoenix. Knowing with each board, with each nail--I am seeing hope in action, seeing God's word made flesh--it's just been too emotionally overwhelming to write about.

To my husband and me, this structure has come to symbolize so much more than a house. It symbolizes God's promise to take care of us, to bless us for obedience within a trial. And it also symbolizes restoration, that we are finally getting back some of what we lost when the woman destroyed his career.

Such happiness...but would you believe it's been mixed with such unexpected sadness? Yes, sadness! And I have felt too guilty about it to write and share the "joy" about our new house.

I want to weep with joy over the progress. But I have also wanted to weep in sadness over the structural changes we had to make from the original plans, the light fixture that's no longer available, etc. And then this same week, my husband ran into someone from his old job and also got a letter in the mail dealing with his disbarment.

We've literally spend months without giving more than a passing thought to the past. And now several things all at once? What was going on?

At my aunt's house on Wednesday, I was nosing through her bookshelf and saw a neat-looking cover. She suggested I take and read Randy Alcorn's Lord Foulgrin's Letters. Inside the pages, I found fiction based on Scripture concerning Satan's demons.

In one passage, Alcorn suggests that while we readily accept that each person has a guardian angel watching over her, we don't consider that each person might have a guardian demon assigned to watch over her, too. Not a comforting concept.

But weren't my conflicting emotions just a problem with my processor upstairs? Or was it really something more.

Yesterday evening, Doug and I sat down and realized this week, we had both been individually feeling assaulted by the past.

Was it someone whispering reminders to me and Doug of our losses and reinforcing those thoughts by arranging the happenstance meeting with the old employee, and by perfectly timing the letter's arrival in the mailbox. Was it all ordained by Satan's minions to temper my enjoyment of God's blessing? To keep me silent in shameful guilt for being a bit sad versus bubbling over in praise to my God?

It makes me wonder.

So prepare for weeks of bubbling in the future. God is good. Good keeps His promises.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Jennifer, I'm amazed at the progress already. Of course, what I see as progress may be happening in slow motion to you.

    Such important words you wrote here! Yes, it's so true. We have an enemy. The spiritual warfare we fight daily is such an important topic. We need to know how to fight. How to stand our ground when we've "done all". Yet, many Christians don't want to talk about it.

    Oh how well I know about those emotions as well. Yes, I am wired to be high-strung emotionally speaking. But your point here is oh so very true. If we would pray, discern and then do as the Scripture says. Oh if we would just do it.

    So glad I read this on this Sunday morning. I'm going forth to get ready for my Sunday at His House with renewed vision. Got to get praying!

    Be blessed today! I'm rejoicing with you over the victory of your house progress!

  3. I am so happy for you... the ambivalent feelings are part of our living in a world that is not our eternal home. We will always be homesick for lasting joy, that is found in heaven alone.

    I am not belittling the Satanic attacks for they are real, and more often than we are willing to admit, we need to go into intense warfare and contend for our own destiny as well as those of our loved ones. Take that to heart, but also, the truth that no weapon forged against us will prosper.

    Amazing how you were on my mind the whole time I was writing my newest post, and I even dedicated it to you... after which I came over to get your link, and I got to read this!

    My heart leaps for joy... He is working out something in your heart.


  4. So true, Lidj--no true joy to be found here, just shadows. I must admit that I am not attuned well to the spiritual warfare that goes on around me. It took two weeks of wondering what in the world was going on for me to finally sit down with my husband and realize he was being attacked with visions of a past we left behind, too. It's just amazing how knowing what's happening makes it so much easier to ignore and look at the house for what it is--God's blessing of renewal to us.

  5. Wow, Jennifer. Just wow. It's like we're on the same journey, only there's a row of hedges separating us.

    I had a very difficult thing happen in my past, and recently it came back to slap me in the face. So I bury myself deeper into my hole. I want to hide. But mostly I want to leave this place! Not just the emotional place, the physical place. I have prayed for many years that God would give me a fresh start elsewhere.

    I'm so happy to hear that your new house is in the making! I have a feeling that the things you had picked out will surface again...maybe at a thrift store or garage sale. Maybe even cheaper than you were planning on paying!

    Your other comment surprised me too. Years ago I read a book by Ted Haggard. He talked about a vision he had, in which there was a delivery room, and each baby being born had a demon assigned to it! It's like Satan has a plan for us when we're born, but it's nothing compared to the plans God has for us!

    I pray that all your dreams will come to life - including vindication for your husband!

    Love you! Wish I could sit down with you and talk face to face over coffee and a fancy New Orleans cake! Oh well, maybe on the other side...

  6. Cancel the plans of those imps and minions. Lift your heart in continued praise and relection. Allow the words of those verses to ring true in every attack of the enemy, and rejoice in what the Lord has done!

    Best to you and your family, and congrats on the new house--built on the foundation of His love,

  7. Congratulations on the start of your new home. And ... my, my, my what a beautiful lot! I rejoice with you.

    We built our home seven years ago, and it was such a joy to see this house go up in stages. So many people speak of the headaches of house-building, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    This is the house that we will most likely live in for the rest of our earthly days (unless God has other plans) so it was so fun to make it "our own."

    Enjoy the process.