This morning I had to wake up early. That’s not completely unusual for me, but today it was my responsibility to drive my daughter to school. While this isn’t that big of a deal, it did mean that the time I usually have to myself first thing in the morning was reallocated. I’m used to having a buffer of time to myself before I interact with people. This morning I didn’t.
That’s how I noticed it.
You see, I’m not one of those people who pops out of bed excited to face the day. I typically wake up with a big mental battle. Having quiet time in the morning helps me keep this battle in check. I bring my pressures and worries to Jesus, and He helps me prepare to face the day with more grace than I naturally start with.
I didn’t have that this morning, which is how I noticed my ungracious response to anyone who came within 10 feet of me. A lot of it was my inner dialogue: Why are you doing it that way? That’s a stupid question. Get out of my way. Stop annoying me. None of these words came out of my mouth. Let’s be honest, though, if these were the harsh thoughts in my head, the people around me were likely getting the gist of it, even if my words never hit the air.
Since I aspire to be a kind and understanding person, my ungracious attitude toward my family bothered me. That’s not who I want to be. My typical response to moments where I perceive bad behavior in myself is to withdraw from the people around me. Afterall, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Right?
Then I began my personal punishment routine. My internal dialogue: What’s your problem? Why are you interacting with people that way? Stop being so hard on everyone!
Do you see how I was punishing myself as if I was a little kid in trouble? “If you can’t be nice, go to your room until you can be decent.” I didn’t know at the time that I was being punitive with myself. I discovered that later. I discovered it after the Holy Spirit disrupted my routine with a fresh thought: Who is your accuser?
I didn’t really recognize this as the voice of the Holy Spirit at the time. As you can see, I wasn’t in a very spiritual state of mind. Only later did I remember a prayer I prayed the night before. My prayer went like this: Jesus, I’m so tired of the inner battle. Please help.
When Jesus didn’t answer my prayer immediately, I assumed I was on my own. When I woke up this morning with a battle raging in my head, it seemed to confirm my assumption. Little did I know that the Holy Spirit was planning a lab experiment of sorts – an opportunity to use a real-life problem to begin to answer my prayer. I guess He read the teacher’s manual explaining that learning sinks in better when it’s a hands-on experience instead of just an intellectual one.
Let’s get back to that fresh thought: Who is your accuser?
Good question. The accusation I was making of the people around me was the same accusation I was making of myself: Why are you doing it that way? My enemy wasn’t being very creative. What he was doing to me, he was also doing through me. But here is the awareness that changed the situation for me: My enemy wasn’t me. He was another entity completely.
Sure, he was influencing me, but he wasn’t me. And that means I have a choice. I could stop listening. (Or at least consider the possibility.) I could stop agreeing with him. (Or at least question his motives.)
When I realized my enemy wasn’t me, I could get a little perspective. When I realized I wasn’t the scum of the earth, I could think differently. Why wasn’t I interacting differently with the people I loved? Why was I being so harsh?
I’ll tell you why: it’s because there was an accuser screaming in my ear!
No, I’m not perfect. But I am kind. I am patient. I love my family. And I am practicing interacting in ways that communicate those things more regularly.
More than that, Jesus already dealt with all my sins and mistakes when He sacrificed His life for me. Jesus took on Himself the punishment for all my failed thoughts and actions. The enemy surely did not hold back the accusations he heaped on Jesus. So then, there’s nothing left for him to say to me.
And if Jesus could shake off the devil’s accusations in the way He did – shaking them off with the death garments, raising up from the grave and leading a procession of all the enemies He defeated and took captive – that same response is available to me.
As for my enemy, he may have a point – I wasn’t being nice – but that’s not the point. The accuser is not one who will help make it better. His way of confronting me heaps shame on me, making it even harder to be the person I want to be.
How about a new plan? What if I take the issue to Jesus instead?
Jesus is the one who will help me. In fact, He already did. Not only did Jesus cover all my sins with His blood, but He sent His Holy Spirit into my habitual thought process to show me something I couldn’t see before. He identified my accuser – the accuser who has already been defeated.
Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the character of my Heavenly Father. My Father loves me. My Father helps me. My Father rejoices over me with loud singing. My Father considers it an honor to set me free from my enemies. My Father will never fail me.
If you find that you’re not behaving the way you know you can, maybe it’s worth considering if you, too, have an accuser screaming in your ear. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to expose the schemes of the enemy so that we may live in the freedom that Jesus won for us.
Jesus, will you answer that prayer? Absolutely!
This blog was also posted on the Next Step Community. You can find it here amid other articles by like-minded authors.