This is for all you brave people out there fighting an internal battle. The kind no one can see.
There’s this cool verse about not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good. Good can take on the most unlikeliest of forms. Don’t worry, not gonna get churchy on you. But, I am gonna get real.
God is the first one to know I am in battle. Usually, I’m the 3rd or 4th one to figure it out. Don’t ask me why.
I have learned, though, that when something or someone rattles me around a particular tenderness in my heart that the enemy is striking me. Trying to get me down, unfocused and off track. It’s similar to a sucker punch.
Last week I was sucker punched. Again.
The timing, of course, is quite strategic. I’ve been breaking out of bad habits and self destructive patterns. So, in the enemy’s eye, I’m becoming dangerous to him. I like that. I like that a lot.
But, I need to keep my armor on. (cue dramatic music crescendo)
I was walking Cleo when a new neighbor (male), who was sitting in his car, called out to me through the passenger side window.
Now, in this day and age, most men know you don’t approach a woman you don’t know, right?? So, I guess calling to me from the car was less intimidating. But, once I half way approached the car thinking he must be lost, I noticed he was on his cell phone. He looks over at me and he says he’s new here and hasn’t met anyone. Um, oooookkkkkk, I think as I stand there in my pink polka dot pj lounge pants and Disney hooded sweatshirt. It’s a good look.
Now, I’m sure on screen, this seems like no big deal. Maybe it isn’t. But, the way he said it and looked at me I got a cold rush through me and instantly felt sick to my stomach. Is this proof of something wicked, no, of course not. Just saying, it didn’t feel right.
I stepped back a bit even though I wasn’t even close to his car. And, I was silent, trying to assess what he wanted. And, of course, my dog who normally would be barking at someone in the car was just calmly sitting. Thanks, Cleo. Big help.
He went on to tell me where he lived (including apt number!) and asked where I lived. Huh?! Textbook creeper alert. That’s in every after school show about not talking to strangers – never tell them who you are or where you live. He must’ve missed these episodes.
I said my husband and I live nearby, wondering why I was still talking to him. It was the way he was looking at me like he was memorizing me that gave me chills. I wrapped up the odd conversation and went on my way.
I went inside and told my ever patient husband about this “feeling” I had. He’s grown accustomed to being married to a highly sensitive woman. He kindly took me seriously and closed our blinds after looking to see who this guy was. I couldn’t shake this sense of something bad. This stupid 2 second encounter stirred up a FLOOD of bad memories of my first bad neighbor I had when I was a kid (in case you need a recap: https://shefliesagain.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/when-it-is-worth-the-risk/)
I quickly pushed those thoughts away reminding myself this is not the same. Not at all. I’m an adult first of all. And, I have an attack dog.
Uh, well…I’m definitely an adult.
Unfortunately, just dismissing uneasiness doesn’t make you feel peaceful. I had nightmares. Of course. Been a while since I had these. I knew instantly the next morning the enemy was trying to recreate a bad time for me. Well, I wasn’t going to let him. Right? (cue insecure music)
Yet, the next evening of course I ran into the new neighbor again. Darn! I quickly looked down, palms sweating and heart racing muttering under my breath, something’s not right, something’s not right. Then reminded myself to say a prayer, hold my head up and shoulders back. It was a pure demonstration of trying to overcome fear.
The day after that, I step out onto my balcony for one minute and guess who pulls up? Geez!
Now, I’m just mad. Three days in a row and I’m already impatient with this man. And, being reminded I can be shaken so quickly.
Now, I am not saying this man IS how I FEEL he is.
I AM saying the enemy is sucker punching me where it hurts.
Today is when I see God’s counter action!
To anyone else, this won’t mean what it means to me. That’s often how I find God works. It’s so unique to us, so specific to our internal noise that we alone will recognize it. I wonder what it looks like for you?
I get home from work and see my other new neighbor (a lady) outside walking her dog. I make the polite smile and hello and intend to head up to my apartment. But, I do a double take at her dog. “What kind of dog is that?” I ask.
“A Schipperke.” She replies. (insert cute picture from internet)
“Ohhhh!! That was my first dog!!!” I exclaimed and unabashedly call the dog over forgetting I’m 39, not 7!
The dog sweetly runs over and curls up to me. The nice neighbor lady comments that she really likes me. I gush over this beautiful little black dog. And, we all know I have the best dog in the world. But, seeing this dog brings back a FLOOD of wonderful memories! I am smiling so big like a little girl. And, just laughing.
I realize I’ve gotten lost in my joy and regain my adult composure and apologize for taking her dog away from her. Of course, she was just glad someone else was petting her dog besides her.
I walk to my apartment so light in my heart! I reflect on the irony that in all my life I’ve only seen one Schipperke. And, now, one moves in downstairs from me.
From what I remember, my parents gave me Sugar Boy when I was about 7 years old, after I was abused. We lived in the same house, though, where the neighbor lived next door that hurt me. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember how I felt around Sugar Boy – pure joy!
And, I loved that dog. He didn’t live very long as he got really sick before he was a year old. But, still, that time with him was so memorable for me. After so much loss of innocence, loss of my best friend, just confusion – that dog was just what I needed.
As I recall these memories I realize: this is God striking back against the fear of the first neighbor at the beginning of this very short blog post. Ahem.
I realize that not all the memories I have from that age were bad. And, He reminded me of my first love.
Don’t you see? He seems to say to me. There is a way to SEE GOOD despite the bad.
I get choked up as I see the tailor made encouragement just for me! God alone knew the struggles I was having internally. I didn’t share much about it except, shaming myself in my mind for having these feelings again.
But, God knew and wanted me to know He sees me.
I’ll end with my mom’s summary, which would’ve made a much more succinct blog: maybe this dog will bite the weird neighbor.
See? Good dog.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
Cleo approves of this post (she made it through the beginning at least).