Don’t put a purse on the floor.
Don’t put shoes on the table.
Don’t buy your significant other a pair of shoes.
Leave through the same door you entered.
Trouble comes in threes.
The Devil don’t waste bullets.
My grandparents had some serious beliefs. Rooted in old geetchie heritage. I took all those ideas as my own. I put my purse in a chair or my lap. I put shoes on the floor, or if they’re new, I might leave them in the box and put them on the couch. I’ve never bought my husband shoes…not directly. I’ve given him a gift card so HE can buy shoes. I leave out the same door I came in. I hold my breath when trouble comes because I know there’s more coming. And I know the Devil don’t waste bullets.
The Devil is very purposeful.
Sometimes I feel attacked. I feel heavy. I feel like things just aren’t falling into place. Like, life is a square hole and I’m only equipped with round pegs. I feel like I’m the dead horse, and life continues to kick me while I’m down. And THAT is how the Devil gets you.
He must be equipped with some serious sonar for people who are struggling, hurting, sad, or confused. He must have octopus suckers on his thoughts, and he sends them out to latch onto the self-doubt, negative self-talk, and confusion. His negativity must be laced with fertilizer, making it easy to spread like weeds through your minds, hearts, and souls…rooting down deep and taking hold of people in their core.
I mean, that sounds like a conspiracy. It sounds like a rabbit hole I dug.
Actually, it is. Actually, it IS a conspiracy. Actually, it IS a rabbit hole I dug. And, I’m actually going to ask you to go down this conspiracy-driven rabbit hole with me for a minute.
Everyone has experienced a time of confusion, frustration, self-doubt, sadness, or anger. I see you. Looking at some of those words and thinking, “nah…maybe this one but not that one.” You’re lying. To yourself and to me. This is a safe place, remember? Be honest. Everyone has felt those things.
Maybe they come at the same time of the year or month. Maybe they come in response to an event. Maybe they come in the same order every time. However they come, they come with a purpose.
The Devil don’t waste bullets. The Devil is purposeful.
Now, before we go any further…this isn’t going to be a standing-on-the-mountaintop-I’ve-seen-the-other-side speech. This isn’t going to be a you-better-go-to-church-and-raise-all-the-hallelujahs sermon. This isn’t going to be a lock-your-doors-because-nobody-can-be-trusted rant. Y’all know me–this is a neat and concise one-sided discussion on how you can guard yourself…how you can keep yourself on the up-swing…how you can eliminate or shorten that mind cave vacation I’ve warned you about.
I’m about to dive in. Friendly reminder–I’m not an expert. On anything. I’m writing about my personal experiences. I’m talking to you, my friends. We’re on the front porch, swinging on the porch swing, drinking sweet tea, in the dark (because it’s easier to brain dump when you can’t be seen)…having a deep discussion on a hot topic that definitely will cause some debate, hot cheeks, raised voices, deep thinking, revelations, and different views.
Think about a time when you’ve been sad, angry, or confused. It might have been in response to something. It might be an every-six-weeks kinda thing. It might be due to an imbalance mentally or emotionally.
For me…sometimes it’s when my kids go to their other parents’ houses…sometimes it’s out of empathy for my students’ experiences or lack of something or my inability to give them what I know they need…sometimes it’s just a heavy weekend…sometimes I can’t identify it, I just feel down.
Let me dig into those things a little further.
First, my purpose in life is my kids; my “why” in life are those little people. They drive my decisions; they focus my thoughts; THEY make my life purposeful and whole. I’m divorced; my husband is divorced. That means that our kids share their time. To others, we get a “break” every other weekend. To us, we are incomplete every other weekend. Losing that purpose every couple weeks sometimes drives us into a hole.
Second, I love teaching. Little kids, big kids, my kids, your kids…it doesn’t matter–I just love teaching. Everybody needs something. It may be academic, social, emotional, directions on how to do something…everybody needs something. I give all I can give. To my students, to my kids, to my friends, to my family, to anyone who reaches out in need. I give what I can. But it’s hard knowing that what I give might not be enough.
Third, my mom shared something that knocked me down last week–she said that while I was growing up, she noticed an emotional cycle. She said that she knew “something was going to happen” every six weeks. I’ve noticed this as an adult, but I never knew that it began in my childhood.
All of those scenarios, all of those reasons, all of those “things” make me susceptible to the Devil’s bullets. Remember, he doesn’t waste bullets. He is very purposeful.
Whatever brings you down…that first little thought or feeling pings the Devil’s sonar. He readies his octopus arms and suckers to latch on to that sadness or anger or confusion. He prepares his fertilizer to strengthen those feelings, to spread them like weeds in your heart and mind. And, then, he roots them down…making it harder for you to dig them up.
You’re sad because your kids are gone? Maybe they have more fun over there; maybe they’d rather stay over there; maybe s/he parents better than you; maybe they’ll leave you.
You’re confused because you tried to help and couldn’t check all the boxes? Maybe you should not try; maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about; maybe this isn’t your calling; maybe you made it worse.
You’re heavy and don’t know why? Maybe you aren’t a good wife or husband; maybe you don’t do anything right; maybe nobody really wants to be around you; maybe you aren’t worthy of anything good.
You see what happened there? The Devil latched onto my sadness, my confusion, my anger, my negative feelings and EXPLODED THEM! He shot my sadness and made it bleed into every aspect of my mind and heart. He shot my confusion and anger and heaviness and made it seep into my thoughts and feelings, muliplying the negative, giving it strong roots to burrow deep into my core for a permanent home.
The Devil don’t waste bullets.
I told you this wasn’t going to be a proclamation of faith or a push to believe in any one thing or even a testimony of rebirth. We’re just talking. On the front porch swing with our tea…in the dark (it’s easier). We’re just two friends sharing a difficult and deep conversation about our lives. With all that being said…and clear boundaries re-set, let’s come out on the other side of this conversation.
I have always been a self-proclaimed realist. I don’t see myself as an optimist or a pessimist. I don’t see the glass half-full or half-empty; I just see it where it is–a half of a glass. I’ve always prided myself on being a Devil’s Advocate. I see the irony in me saying that in this blog post–it’s not lost on me! I enjoy a good discussion…a healthy debate. To do that, you have to have two viewpoints. Sometimes I’ll argue the other side, even if my beliefs don’t reside on that side. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not argumentative…I just love to push people to see from all perspectives. I’ve always had a strong sense of some kind of higher power. I wouldn’t say I was always praying to a god, believing in a god, or following a book. I went to church as a kid and teenager; I prayed to my deceased grandparents. I believe in good juju, positive vibes, and happy thoughts. I’m kinda all over the place, spiritually. So, when I say let’s come out on the other side of this conversation, I’m not saying let’s talk about one right way to defend yourself from those bullets.
I am saying that you need armor. You need a shield. You need a defense.
For some of us, that defense is a belief rooted in science. For some of us, that shield is multiple gods who focus on various things. For some of us, that armor is Jesus.
It doesn’t matter to me how you protect yourself. But you need to protect yourself.
A couple of weeks ago, I was accused of being an optimist. Yes, I meant to use the term “accused” because it felt like an accusation. “You’re always finding the good in every situation.” Whaaaaaaaat? Me?? The self-proclaimed realist? Whaaaaaaaat? It felt like a throat punch. It felt like someone had pointed out something ugly or wrong. But, the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated that accusation. Maybe I am an optimist. Maybe my nature to call things as they are IS optimistic. Maybe things actually ARE good and positive. Or maybe that’s my defense.
In one of my first blog posts, I said I was trying to grow spiritually. In the past two years, my belief in a higher power with a purpose, a plan, and a love so strong and true that it covers me with hope and peace has strengthened and taken root in my heart and mind and soul. That is MY armor. My armor is seeing the joy in each day; my armor is finding the silver lining; my armor is highlighting the positive side of each experience.
My armor isn’t your armor.
As for me and mines…I’m stayin’ prayed up. Jesus, be a fence.
You better find some armor because…
The Devil don’t waste bullets.