I had just returned from a double whammy grocery tour. You know, where you hit the membership club for the staples and then the actual grocer for the fill in's like the specific kind of potato chip that your 19 year old son loves. As the boys unloaded the car, I dove right into reorganizing and restocking the pantry and the fridge. It's always such a productive accomplishment when the kitchen is ready for the next pandemic and you know you've just given your children the mecca of eatery choices giving the best food court a run for it's money. So, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself in the moment.
I had just finished saving the planet by tossing my cardboard boxes into the recycle bin, when Barry Sanders (our dog, not the legend...although, it would be a much better story if it was) rang the bell to signal his need to be released out into the wild to do some business. I perfunctorily walked over to the front door, grabbed his lead, opened the door and watched as he bolted out into our yard barking hysterically at, well...nothing. But the important thing is that he really felt like he was doing something brave and protective for his pack. So, I left him outside to play soldier dog, walked back inside and shut the door.
That's when it hit me. A wave of sadness so heavy that my knees buckled underneath me and I literally, fell to the ground. The weight of anguish sitting on me in that moment was crushing. I couldn't get up. I felt dazed. I had been fine a few minutes ago and now I was army crawling over to my den seeking leverage to stand back up. It was so random and so very much real. I instinctively knew that this physical phenomenon wasn't anything medical, but was undoubtedly something spiritual.
As I made my way to the couch, still on the floor, I rested my back up against it and tried to collect my thoughts. I started to try and find an answer for this immediate and soul crushing onset of depression. Was it the rainy, cloud covered day? No, it couldn't be that because I had commented earlier on how nice it was to have some cozy, fall type weather. Could it be that I was feeling overwhelmed with changes at work, podcast demands, and social media pressures all swirling around me? No, not that either, I had just recently made major strides forward into finding some peace in all of that. Was it because I have been feeling so alone lately? Maybe. But loneliness wasn't what this feeling was. This feeling was desperation; sorrow; forebodingness.
In a word is was absolute hopelessness.
As soon as I caught my breath and concluded what, indeed, it was that I was experiencing, I instantly knew that I was having an attack...or rather, I was being attacked. Call it what you want, an existential crisis or an anxiety attack, but for me, as a Christian, I knew clearly that it was a spiritual attack. Or in layman's terms, the devil just jumped me from behind. Bastard.
But why, you ask? Why did he just pounce on me like that? Well, it's because he hates humanity and, after all, I am human. You see, satan wanted to be God's first and greatest love and when he saw that he wasn't and that we were, well, that pissed him off and......he gave God 'the bird' (not the flying kind either) and bailed. Now, he spends his days (and nights) seeking revenge on us. His plan is to take us down one human at a time; hoping to separate us from God for all of eternity. But what he didn't take into account was a sweet, eccentric type dude named Jesus......okay, that's a whole nother sermon for a whole nother time.
Let's get back to my crippling hopelessness with the little man on my back.
Now, here's the thing. The devil is patient. He caught me off guard. He waited until my prayer game was weak; when I was resting in that place of everything being fine; where I wasn't being diligent on my watch. But even though he might be patient, he definitely isn't very smart because he went after the obvious. I knew he was trying to steal my hope - the very thing that I am so passionate about. His plan was to rob me of it in order to stop me from sharing it. When hope dies, our souls die. I know it. He knows it. And it's going to be a fight to the finish. But shhhhh......don't tell him he loses in the end. Bye Felicia.
Honestly, I don't know what he was thinking dive bombing me like that, being the warrior that I am. That's like trying to mug a black belt who conceal carries and is also Bruce Lee's cousin. Stupid. I'm trained up for this sh*t!! So, I pulled myself up from the floor and began my offense. It was slow at first, with not much confidence in my conviction, but nonetheless, I trudged ahead.
"Thank you for this couch."
"Thank you for the groceries."
"Thank you for Barry Sanders."
Just then, my timers on my battery operated candles where starting to turn on and they began to illuminate my house with a warm glow. I knew it was a sign that my battle plan was working. And I continued, more boldly.
"Thank you for my beautiful home!"
"Thank you for my amazing children!"
"Thank you for Don and the journey you've provided!"
"Thank you for this opportunity to be victorious over the enemy!"
"Thank you for all of what you have given me!"
And just like that, the weight of my anguish was gone. And in it's place was hope. I, once again, felt my peace in the moment; my joy for the cozy day; my excitement for the future. Living with an active thankful attitude releases power into the world around you and protects you from a surprise assault. A grateful heart will calm any variety of attack; from the mental type to the spiritual kind. You simply need to establish your "go to" behavior - when darkness hits, bring the light. Start with a breath, place your mind on what you have (even if it is the smallest of things), then speak that thankfulness out into existence. Hi-YAH. You just karate chopped the enemy. He never saw it coming.
The devil, the attack, the crisis (call it what you choose) will retreat. It has no choice. Daniel-San wins, remember.
And with your triumph, you claim the confidence and wisdom for tomorrow's battle, should your opponent show, again. And the hope that if he does, the victory is already yours.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
1 Peter 5:8
"The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."