Looking back in my life, I clearly see a number of periods that were marked spiritual frustration, struggle and confusion – which were all later followed by amazing growth in my relationship with and understanding of the Lord. I have always thought of those times as my growing pains. They stretched, they hurt, and I always fought against it to keep the pain away; but when it was all over, I would find that I had a spiritual “growth spurt”; I was bigger – more spiritually mature – and I found myself closer than ever to my Heavenly Father.
A few years ago, the area of growth happened in regard to modesty. A dear friend gave me a copy of a wonderful book called Raising Maidens of Virtue. Having all girls, this friend thought this book would be an encouragement to me. Little did she know that the book would completely open my eyes to a huge, glaring issue in my life! The full change in my heart took several months and happened in stages because I fought back, not wanting to change. Eventually the Lord got my attention, the changes in my heart happened, and I have had so much joy in my life, in my marriage, and in raising my girls, since God put it on my heart to begin valuing myself as a Daughter of the King, not a woman of the world.
Another change came right around that same time, and that was to begin trusting in the Lord to make the decisions about our fertility. You can read more about that here. And for more stories of spiritual growth in our lives, check out this blog post, and this one.
At this time in my life, I can clearly see that I am going through a new wave of growing pains. The Lord, I believe, wants to purge my life of things that do not honor him; things that are difficult – downright painful – for me to give up. I don’t know why, but I always fight against these things. I know the end result will be wonderful, and that the Lord is only allowing these things to happen to bring me closer to him, but somehow that knowledge doesn’t stop me from my spiritual temper tantrum (I might as well call it what it is!).
After being shown this video by an a fellow homeschooler, my entire view of Christmas had changed. (I really encourage you to take the time to watch it before you continue reading.)
As you might already know, we had already given up celebrating Halloween, and we no longer do the whole Santa thing, nor the Easter Bunny thing, but Christmas has always been special. I’ve cut way back so that each of my children only received one gift each on Christmas, so as to make sure they wouldn’t get caught up in the materialistic aspect of the holiday. Instead, we threw birthday parties for Jesus, sang to him, and even had birthday cake! This has been a treasured time in our family, and every year we looked forward to “decking the halls” and putting up our tree. I never gave much attention to why we do those things, probably because we just always did! (How many things to we just “do” without ever stopping to wonder why we do them?) However, my eyes have now been opened. That video has lead me to research farther and deeper, and what I have found only feeds my repulsion. For example, I can never look at a Christmas tree again, knowing that they were originally used in pagan celebrations, and the pagans would dance naked around the decorated tree, participating in orgies and all other forms of ungodliness. How can decorating a Christmas tree, something that was originally meant to be a center of perverted acts, possibly be glorifying to the Lord? There are so many things that my eyes have been opened to, and I know I will never be the same. It hurts, the idea of giving up our beloved Christmas; but, I believe what hurts more is that our “beloved Christmas” was a lie all along.
I realize that this subject is taboo. I am not saying that everyone who reads this needs to stop celebrating Christmas, or Easter for that mater (but that’s a post for another day). I am simply stating that this is the spiritual struggle that my family is going through right now. To quote Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I think the same thing can be said of spiritual knowledge. As God chooses to reveal himself more to me and our family as a whole, with it comes the choice of what we will do with that knowledge. We can either use it to further grow our relationship with the Lord, or we can simply dismiss it and go on living our lives with one foot in heaven and one foot in the world. It’s a difficult battle, because the war being waged is not just internal; it’s the epic struggle of light versus dark. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) That’s an important verse to remember, but the rest of it is equally important: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17) For us, my husband and myself, we believe that putting on the full armor of God means that while we live in the world, we are not to conform to it. Sometimes that’s hard to do, painful even, but we must follow our convictions – even if they are convictions that others may not share. We must stand firm, we must do what is right, we must heed the truth.