I couldn’t breathe. I’m suffocating. I’m dying.
Conversation didn’t often happen in my home; the focus was more on taking orders from my dad, acting quickly to obey. I used to pride myself for my ability to act before he spoke, to “read his mind.” Fear of his cruel wrath forced me to monitor his facial expressions, listen for the tone of his voice, to gauge the severity of cruelty to come.
One day, I found myself chatting about my day at school. I don’t know what came over me. My mom, dad, and younger sister were chewing ill-prepared steak during dinner. In the middle of my chattering, my dad looks up from his meal, stops chewing, swallows his food and looks at me with disgust. “Do you think anyone cares what you have to say? Do you really think anyone wants to listen to you? You will never amount to anything!”
I felt like a deflated balloon, like a stuffed toy with no stuffing.
Satan succeeded that day. I stopped talking not only at home but everywhere. In a quick instant Satan’s prison was fully constructed, like one of those pop up cards you purchase from the Hallmark store. The bars of the prison clanked shut, the sound of metal scrapping metal closed in around me. I stood close, holding onto those thick bars as they pushed against my heart. I did nothing to help myself; I accepted my fate, believed a lie.
Occasionally, I wrapped my hands around those solid bars and tried to shake them open. I recoiled in self-loathing and disgust, a feeling that grew each time I opened my mouth and perceived criticism. I surrendered to those solid, cold bars. If a class project required an oral report, I took an ‘F’; no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I was asked to take a new position in the company I worked for. Were the impenetrable bars opening? Soon my new supervisor suggested I needed improvement in an area—the bars slammed shut immediately. I returned to my old job where I didn’t have to talk to anyone in person.
John Eldredge in Waking the Dead warns us of satan’s tactics. “You are not what you think you are. There is a glory to our life that your Enemy fears, and he is hell-bent on destroying that glory before you act on it.”
Even to this day that stronghold threatens, lurking in the shadows taunting me, waiting to pounce. My dad lied. And I believed him, landing in an emotional prison. Phil. 4:8 says to think on “whatsoever things are true.” When I choose to dwell on and believe what God’s Word says, I can truly keep my enemy at bay.
Today, as a life coach/mentor people pay to ‘listen’ to me; they want me to talk to them. They are interested in what I have to say. Take that satan! “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good,” Genesis 50:20. God doesn’t waste our pain. As I step out of my comfort zone, He uses me to give hope. How good is that!
Rhoda Baty is a Life Coach with “Hopeful Heart Coaching”, and works as a secretary at an alternative high school. Rhoda lives in Snohomish, WA, about 30 miles north of Seattle, with her pastor husband of 37 ‘never a dull moment’ years, two daughter’s/son’s in law and her 7 grandchildren.