When the Devil Derails Your Day
I should have known it was going to be a bad day. I stepped out of bed and, before my eyes had fully opened, I tripped on the cord that my phone was plugged into and ended up flying across the floor. With my face flat on the carpet and posterior in the air, I felt like one of those memes whose caption reads, “Should have stayed in bed today” or “We’ll just try again tomorrow!”
I was late for a meeting. “Late” as in the meeting is starting right now, I just opened my eyes, and I’ve already lost a fight with gravity. I threw every clean thing I owned on my bed trying to assemble something appropriate to wear and gobbed my Day 2 unwashed hair (no judgment, ladies!) with more dry shampoo. I went to throw a shirt in the dryer and hit the Start button repeatedly like I was playing the most fantastic whack-a-mole game of my life.
Nothing happened. Which only made me hit the button harder! I opened the dryer door to discover that the towels from last night were still soaking wet. Was my dryer really broken? I didn’t have time for this! In my rush and hurry, I burned the breakfast I had quickly made myself. All appliances were my enemy today!
After embracing the idea of going “hangry”, I went to brush my teeth and starkly realized that I had used moisturizer cream for toothpaste. C’mon, people! Can I just tell you that there is no amount of Listerine to remove that memory from your taste buds?! I dropped my favorite tea mug which shattered all over my kitchen, and y’all … I just left it there. Broken in pieces all over the floor. Kinda like my morning.
As if my sanctification wasn’t being tested enough, when I finally got to work and out of my car, the strap on my bag broke and everything…and I do mean EVERYTHING…went flying across the parking lot. I scrambled to pick up the tampons first (because who wants those puppies lying around your work parking lot?!?) then stuffed papers, make-up brushes, pens, too many fast food receipts, lotion, a random fork, one of my nephew’s Tonka trucks, and everything I owned back into my broken bag. I was ready to admit defeat for the day, potentially even for the week…and it wasn’t even 9 a.m.!
As I sat in my meeting feeling conspicuous and like a complete failure, my emotions brimmed to the surface. I was frustrated and tired, weary from an already battle-worn week. Today wasn’t supposed to go like this.
I was ready to give up, give in, and just be angry for the rest of the day. If I’m honest with myself, sometime the devil can derail my day at the beginning and I just can’t seem to get it back on track.
Have you been there? It starts off as a crazy morning and it just feels like the entire day is going to be a wash.
Now, I’m not talking about the big things. I’m not talking about news of death, or debilitating sickness, or severe crisis in your world. I’m talking about a day full of building annoyances that threaten your sanity and require confession before bedtime! We’re talking about moisturizer for toothpaste here, y’all!
So what do you do when all these things that you know shouldn’t be a big deal land you in the Out of Order public restroom stall getting your ugly cry on?
The easy thing to do here would be to say, “Just pray about it.” And while I think that should be part of the process, I find myself asking … ok, but what else? I know the Bible verses about “counting it all joy when I’m facing trials” but the Enemy of my soul just hijacked my day and I need a plan…and quick!
What are the practical steps I can take to settle my heart, refocus my eyes, reset my day, and not lose this tenuous battle between my mind and my emotions?
First, identify what you’re feeling. Give a name to it. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I’m self-conscious. I feel like a failure. I feel unworthy. I’m hurting. I’m worried. You can’t overcome what you don’t first identify. Our emotions can be shallow and unreliable, but they are a part of us and we often allow them to dictate our responses. While we shouldn’t be ruled by our emotions, we need to acknowledge that they exist. The great Psalmist, David, said “I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him” (Ps 142:2).
Consider these other Psalms:
- “Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted” (Ps 55:2).
- “Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint” (Ps 64:1).
- “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; My soul refused to be comforted” (Ps 77:2).
- “When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint” (Ps 77:3).
- “Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to You” (Ps 102:1).
Identify what’s really going on inside. Then you’ll know what you’re really dealing with. Be honest with God. Your Creator made you and is interested in even the smallest details of your world.
Separate truth from lies. God never does His deepest work in the shallowest part of who we are, so identifying our emotions can never be the end of the process. So, what do we do? We separate what is true from what is a lie.
“I’m late, I’m not doing my job well…I’m insecure that I’m not living up to standards…I feel unworthy…I have no purpose.” “It’s 12:30pm, my kids and I are still in our pajamas, my house is a wreck… we aren’t making our bills…I’ve lost my temper… I feel like a failure.”
This is how you feel, but is it the truth about you? Recognizing the difference between what we feel and what is true may be the most important part of this process. What we think affects how we feel, and how we feel affects our behavior. Philippians 4:8 says “finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Notice what begins this verse … whatever is true. We’ve been commanded to think of things that are true, despite how we feel about that truth.
We must tell the truth to our feelings! God’s Word is the only place to go for absolute truth. “For God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16). That includes you, my friend. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov 3:5). You can trust the Lord to be there. “Cast all of your anxiety on Him” (1 Pet 5:7). He knows what you’re anxious about. “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14). You are created by God and He has given you a purpose.
Ok, but what now, you may ask? I know all of these things, what can I do about it?
Find your reset buttons. Because the Lord in all of His creativity made each one of us differently, we all have different things that help “set our mind right” (Col 3:2). Find something that resets your day, something that hits the restart power button in your world. I can want my computer to work properly after a technical snag but unless I tell it to restart and actually push the button, it will stay in that altered state.
It doesn’t have to be big. It may be a quick walk outside. It may be a cup of coffee or hot tea where you do nothing for about five minutes except enjoy your cream and extra sugar! It could be a power nap or a hot shower or even taking out your frustration on a load of dirty dishes. I’ve heard of gals that script or color or read a chapter in a book or simply go in the bathroom, shut the door, and just sit there. What is important is that you recognize what is a reset button for you. What helps you reset and shift your focus away from your circumstances and feelings and toward the Lord?
Finally, share it with someone else. We were never meant to do this alone. As silly as it sounds, telling another human soul about your goofy morning will help both of you. You may even find laughter about your “defying gravity” moments. Throw pride aside, kick off self-pity, and get real with a kindred sister.
Allow someone to carry a burden for you (Gal 6:2). In a similar moment, someone else may need you to be their burden lifter as well. Life happens, but it doesn’t have to happen alone.
Reset. Restart. And remember…you’ve got new mercies coming your way tomorrow … even if you feel like you’ve used them all up for today (Lam 3:23).
“Hangry.” That point at which you’re so hungry, you feel angry…it’s a thing!