Actually my birthday turned out rather nicely, but if I had let it continue the way it started...well, things would have been different. So I thought I ought to share the story, because one of the ways we fight against the enemy of our souls is to make sure that we are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Co. 2:11).
So, without further ado, here was Satan's "Perfect Storm" plan for my 44th birthday, October 31, 2008.Image of Hurricane Betsy via Wikipedia
1. Get the kids to behave horribly. This will be especially powerful because they're home from school today. Betsy will have no escape. Make them short-fused, make them scream and yell at Betsy and tell her terrible things about herself. There won't be a thing she can do about it. She'll be helpless!
(Betsy's comment: This plan worked. The kids obliged...especially one who shall remain nameless to protect the forgiven.)
2. Convince Betsy that today is supposed to be all about pampering her. Sure, she's written plenty about the dangers of self-focus, but it's still a weak spot for her. And what better day to encourage her to focus on herself than her birthday?
(Betsy's comment: This worked as well. More than once I uttered a sarcastic, "Happy birthday to me" comment in response to the children's behavior. More than once I resisted the Spirit by reminding Him how wrong it was for my kids to treat me badly on my birthday, etc, etc.)
3. Convince Betsy that being miserable is a cherished privilege, that she has a right to feel this way, that she deserves it because she's being victimized. Encourage her to coddle her bad mood, pamper it, feed it whatever it wants. Oh, and remind her that her hormones give her the right to be crabby now anyway.
(Betsy's comment: Do I have to tell you that this worked?)
4. Convince her that she has the right to lash out at her kids in return, to say mean and hateful things because they deserve it. That will complete the vicious cycle, because the worse she reacts to the kids, they worse they'll behave in return! It'll swirl into a perfect hurricane of evil!
(Betsy's comment: As you've probably guessed by now, that one worked too. Let's just say my reactions were less than godly, and leave it at that...)
5. Convince her that this is all the kids' fault, even though there's really only one part of this scenario that is out of her control (the kids' behavior.) The rest is within her power to choose, but don't let her admit that to herself! (Betsy's comment: Yep. This one worked too. Sometimes I realized that I could choose otherwise, but thanks to the success of point #3, I didn't WANT to!)
Image via Wikipedia
Needless to say, "Hurricane Betsy" cut a wide swath through our house that day. Damage was widespread and severe.
Thank the Lord, He intervened. I'm so glad he didn't get nasty with me, like I got with the kids!
Yes, it was my birthday, but no date on a calendar will change the fact that self-focus is a sure path to misery. I would have been so much better off accepting that the world was not supposed to revolve around me any more on that day than on any other. If I had only kept myself God-centered, determined to be loving to others, so much ugliness could have been avoided!
And oh, if only I had remembered from the very beginning to find strength in joy (Neh. 8:10), rather than thinking I could find it in rage! If only I had remembered earlier that a soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger! (Pr. 15:1)
Lord, please help me to do better next time.
But now for the happy stuff. Things did calm down and improve, even before I repented of my sinful attitudes. How gracious of God to make THAT happen!
John took me to Romano's Macaroni Grill for dinner, and since most of the town was out Image via Wikipediatrick-or-treating, there was no waiting. Hey, having a birthday on Halloween isn't all bad! The food was yummy, I had enough leftover for another dinner the next day, and I got a free slab of lemon cake to boot!
To make matters better, John and I had time to sit and have some very good conversation. (A huge thank-you to my sister, Mary, for babysitting the kids so John and I could have this time ALONE!)
And then came the best part of the evening. From 10:00 until midnight John and I sat in a movie theater with about two other couples and watched "Fireproof." What an amazing experience, hearing the Gospel in a secular movie theater, and seeing love portrayed as selfless and beautiful in ways that Hollywood cannot understand! If you haven't seen this movie, SEE IT! It's well-made despite being a low-budget film, its message is wonderful, and if people turn out to see good Christian movies like this, more of them might be made!
So, it turned out to be a good birthday, and a good reminder that God's ways are always best!
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