There is a new kind of weapon that the enemy is using on women. Actually, it might be an old weapon but it’s new to me, and maybe once I start talking about it you’ll find that you relate. We’re susceptible to it whenever we take a blow; by blow, I mean whenever we’re running late for something and we get that jaw clenching, stressful feeling in our bodies. Whenever someone says something that bothers us or hurts us. Those moments when we’re rethinking something we did or said and are regretting it. The times when we’ve lost our temper on the kids or our spouse and we know that they know we’re not okay…which makes everything ten times worse. One negative thought multiplies into another and before we know it, we have a parasite.
A parasite is an organism that lives off of an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at its host’s expense. Without a host, a parasite cannot live or grow so it rarely kills the host; rather, it slowly takes over its functionality one area at a time. Parasites are invisible from the outside, difficult to detect; And the longer they’re present the larger they get and the more damage they cause.
I believe satan is using our parasitic thoughts to destroy us. All it takes is one to initiate the process. If we don’t immediately bring that thought into the light, then it sticks around. It grows. And it multiplies. Every time we allow another negative thought to fester, the parasite gets larger. As Christian women, we sometimes know the truth and can tell when we are being hard pressed with lies. We know they are lies, so we tell ourselves that we don’t need help – that our problem isn’t worthy of burdening someone else and that we should be able to defeat it on our own. Afterall, we possess the full armor of God and we have the mind of Christ…right? This cycle keeps us in perfect isolation from other women who can help. It’s a downward spiral, and Christian women are just as susceptible if not more susceptible to it because of the good they do in the world.
I felt like I had an actual parasite in my gastrointestinal tract at a certain point not that long ago. I couldn’t seem to eat anything without getting sick and wasn’t absorbing any nutrients. My immune system was weakened, hair was falling out and my face was visibly sunken in. I saw every kind of doctor, tried every sort of diet and did my best to avoid any type of toxin. But nothing helped. Whatever was eating away at me was there to stay and was only getting worse. Earlier that year, I’d had a major falling out with a friend. I had been angry about it, talked to anyone who would listen to me about it, cried about it and buried the situation. It was a year before anything changed, but slowly, I mentally and spiritually processed what had gone on and my symptoms began to resolve.
A couple weeks ago, I found myself in an all too familiar state of anxiety. This usually happens when I’ve taken on too much. I’m trying to do more than I’m supposed to which tires me out; but that’s not what takes me down. What ultimately winds up getting me is the fact that my overcommitments have rendered my mind defenseless. Everyone around me suffers as a result. The kids get an agitated mom, my husband gets a not-so-fun to deal with wife and my friends get the most insecure version of who I am. So there I found myself one day, struggling with an insecurity over a friendship. One friend had given me a heads up that another friend had gotten upset about something I’d done (or not done in this scenario). And the group, my group, had discussed it without me being there. At first, I brushed it off. They loved me and would never do anything to hurt me……….right? As hard as I tried to keep the thoughts out of my mind, they gnawed at me till I finally gave in. Once the gates were open, thoughts flooded in faster than I could keep up. Some of them seemed valid but most were outright lies. They were rooted in things I’d been through as a teenager. Things I had healed from and knew better about, but were suddenly back and crippling me. As they swirled around in my brain, I began to feel worse and worse. I was self isolating and beginning to feel an ache in my stomach.
Soon after, that same group was getting together to pray, of all things. And I wasn’t going. I’d committed to doing less in 2022 so I’d be sitting this one out. But something didn’t feel right when I sent that text to let them know. So I showed up. Maybe it was my outrageous FOMO but it was also definitely God. Over the top of the lies that were now screaming in my head 24/7, I had heard a small whisper, telling me to show up. All I had to do was show up. While with the group, I didn’t say much and had declared to myself that I would head home without causing a disturbance. We were getting up to leave when I felt a hand wrap around my arm and heard, “What do you need right now?” I lost it. I fell to my knees and through snorts and sobs, I admitted that I’d gotten mad about what happened. What had started out as a small misunderstanding had become a full blown parasite. I told them about the things from my past that would make me more susceptible to something like that hurting me. I told them how my imagination had gotten the best of me and exaggerated what actually happened. As a result, the mood I’d had around my family had led to me feeling like a terrible mom. My mind, body, family, work and ministry were under attack. I couldn’t concentrate. And I didn’t feel like my prayers were working. I described the true turmoil that had been destroying the peace that was supposed to be in my mind and heart ever since. I cried. I apologized for believing things that I knew weren’t true about our friendship. They listened. They nodded. And then, we prayed. Not the quiet, formal sort of prayers that you’d hear at church. This was prayer with authority behind it– a cry for help. And a demand for satan to leave. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as these women took turns pouring out to God on my behalf. It was one of the most humbling and powerful moments that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’d walked into that place with a house on my shoulders, and these women had lifted it off.
“ ‘I’m dying here.’ If we could just utter the words, somebody could speak the truth of grace over us. They could remind us of God and His love for us and pray for us, and, for goodness’ sake fight for us” (Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen, 41).
I firmly believe with all my heart that Jesus is always with us, even in our worst moments. When we cry out to him, He hears us every time. But the problem with parasites is that they are loud and destructive; So sometimes we need a little help hearing God. We need to be reminded of who we are and of how God sees us. And here is what I’ve learned: God does NOT want us waiting years, months, days or even hours to do this. He wants to love us and free us and protect us right NOW!! There is something to be said about letting others in on what’s happening inside of us. Admitting our weaknesses and inability to control even our own thoughts. And there’s something to be said about a friend praying over a friend, out loud. Maybe this is why Jesus tells us that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is with them. Because there’s power in numbers – a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Maybe this is why He says that darkness cannot overcome something once it’s brought into the light. Because there’s power in saying the truth out loud. Maybe it’s why He tells us that in order to become more like him, we have to RENEW OUR MINDS. Because He knows that what we think about is what we become!
One of the most effective practices we could ever adopt as women is to not surrender to that first negative thought. The ability for us to defend our minds depends almost entirely on our conscious decision to stay in touch with God, to thank Him and to pray without ceasing. And if you do happen to find yourself with a parasite, all you need to do is show up, shine God’s light on it and watch it disappear.