Jackson’s current favorite toys are his little army men. He has watched “Toy Story” (all 3) many times since Christmas, and he has closely observed Andy’s creative play. I have watched Jack set up army men on every ledge in the house, and they usually are aiming at a common enemy, like the tiger or even the evil couch pillows. The army men seek refuge in the nooks of my vacuum cleaner, they enjoy trips down the laundry shoot, and they particularly love to hide in my kitchen cupboards and drawers. I should start setting a place for these little plastic men at the dinner table. I’ve always wondered when I would have to introduce the reality of warfare to my son, but Pixar did it for me.
And this feels appropriate because if you’ve watched me for five minutes, you’ve probably witnessed me fighting my son in some way, shape, or form. In order to get the child dressed, I have to hold down his strong, flailing body. I even get scratched or hit in the process, and I then must fight to execute the necessary punishment for that behavior. I have to fight Jackson to get in the car or keep his hands to himself. I have to fight to get him into the bathtub, picking up his collapsed, protesting body and flopping into the water. I have to fight to get him in the car, as he pushes his seat belt away or–if it’s a really rough day–grabs my hair to defer the buckling. I’m not saying we don’t have tender, kissy-sweet moments in our days as well, but a lot of my energy is soaked up by a child who puts up a really good fight.
And it’s very interesting that I’m listening to little “pew-pew” shooting noises of green army men during a time in my life where I’m truly discovering the landscape of my inner-battlefield. We all fight against sin and regret, put our fists up against family history. A long day can make us feel defeated. We fight disease, stress, relationship conflict, depression and doubt. Warfare is not only in politics, armies, and on front lines; it’s woven into our lives. And I personally have had circumstances lately that have made me realize that I’m fighting battles for my very own identity.
One of the best tools I have for fighting my identity crisis is busyness. It’s my weapon of choice and I use it brilliantly. I love being busy. I love having a full calendar with coffee dates, classes, projects, play groups, and lunches. I love the buzzing energy of an eventful day. For many reasons, I feel rest must be earned, and, really, it’s rarely preferred and even more rarely deserved. There is war going on within me, fighting for my sense of purpose. It’s been raging since Jackson was born, but I can see very clearly that this is a war I’ve been fighting since I was a child. I use busyness to combat these very deep questions about why I am here, what I have to offer this world, and having Jack was like dropping the atomic bomb. These past 3 years have been the most challenging, rewarding, meaningful years of my entire life. They began with a pregnancy that created a battle of self-loathing and insecurity. They continued with a birth story that demanded more of me than I ever thought I could give. And time continued further with daily battles against colic, self-image, depression, and other hardships that kept me in a chronic sense of fatigue.
Thankfully and miraculously, God used every bit of this warfare and hardship for my refinement. And what I want to highlight is that not only does God continue to pull me out of this season into victory (although there are days where I slide backward in the mud), He has blessed me with some of the most amazing people in my life to help combat the evils around me. I never thought I would sit down in my living room with friends and openly admit that I struggle with self-value, crying and praying for continued deliverance. I never thought I would need or have friends who see my battle wounds, but they identify the destructive tactics I use to hide the fact that I’m deeply searching. And they not only tell me honestly, they pray for me. I never thought I would have a church that feels like a safe haven for my emotional exhaustion. But just like the oasis in Isreal, I go to Engedi for much-needed drink; and it refuels me.
One of these marvelous friends put these words of Scripture in my Facebook inbox this week: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people to be his very own and to proclaim the wonderful deeds of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
It is probably going to take a while for my identity in Christ to wholly take over my heart. It might take a while for my spirit to rest in the fact that God has a plan for me and it’s not my job to figure it out with my own discernment and effort. And it might take a while for the lies that I believe about myself to dissolve completely. But I’m so grateful that God has provided brothers and sisters for me to stand on the front lines, speaking truth into my life and tending to my war wounds. They are my little green men, standing firmly on the edges of my life, ready for God to use their small guns and parachutes in miraculous ways. Thank you, friends, for who you are. God is using you more than you probably realize.