This morning I was scared to step through the church doors. Everyone looks at me with such hope. They always comment on my inspiration, energy, and joy. How do I walk through those doors with a tear stricken face? With DEFEAT clearly marked on my forehead? I didn’t want them to be exposed to rock-bottom Erika.

So there I was, in the parking lot. They say the church is a hospital for the broken, right? Well I was about to find out.

Walking through those doors was hard. Like, really hard. Eyes to the ground I almost made it to my seat. But nope, haha. Snatched halfway by the Senior pastor. Hug number one. Ope, there’s two more women. More hugs. Make it to my seat where I received the fourth and fifth hugs. Just an FYI…I’m not a hugger. But there is something different about church hugs. ❤

Next thing I know I have one woman speaking truth over me. “You are strong. Powerful. A daughter of the most high God. No weapons formed against you shall prosper.”

Then praise and worship started…I don’t even know if we made it through the first song before the Holy Spirit moved. Next thing I know I’m receiving 50 hugs. Multiple people stopping to pray over me. And then, Pastor gets the mic. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us has joy, we all have joy.” That my friends…is family. There were people crying with me. For me. And for my sisters in Christ who were also hurting this morning.

And in that moment a picture came to my mind. You know when you are trying to light something on fire and the wind is blowing too hard? So you have to cover one side while trying to ignite the object with the other hand? Alright. So that object was me. The hands, though? Both hands of God around me. And I could physically see them. How? My church family. Surrounding me as the enemy’s attacks hit from every side. As my flame flickered in danger, they didn’t comment. They didn’t ask how or why. They surrounded me. They covered every hole and fought the battles I couldn’t.

People say, “why do I need to go to church? God and I are on the same page.” Well. I talk with Him every day and still managed to find myself under the enemy’s foot. Why church? Because you can’t do this on your own. You can’t see and protect every side. It was never meant to be that way.

I was infiltrated this morning. Somehow the enemy broke into my fortress. I wish I could say this was the first time. But it wasn’t.

I woke up this morning and something just wasn’t right. As my chest began to burn and my stomach lost its mind, the symptoms were all too familiar. Panic attack. I knew next my chest would continue to tighten and I would literally feel as though I wasn’t going to survive the moment. Some of you know what I’m talking about. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And the anxiety of having the attack makes it even worse.

The first two times I experienced something like this I had no idea what it was. But this time I know. And it doesn’t make any sense!! I’m in a great place in life. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally…etc. WHY NOW?! I’ll tell you why… because the devil plays dirty. He doesn’t care where you are, what you are doing – if he sees a hole, he’s going for keeps.

Though I didn’t know this was going to happen, I found myself a bit more equipped. I began to speak truth over myself. “I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.” “Do not fear.” “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Ya know, all the basics. Did it work? Well, it didn’t end the attack. But it did help me realize I was going to survive it. Sounds dramatic, but trust me. These things are no joke.

It was like every punch I threw was answered with 20 missiles.

In my car, I watched as the rain fell upon the windshield; praying that God would wash over me the same. A little more calm. A few deep breaths. Making progress. Then BAM. In comes the negative self-talk. “Seriously, Erika? You can’t even keep your own mind right. You can’t survive this. You won’t. It was so much easier when you sat in your house and did nothing. Church can’t help you. You can’t help you.” And here is where it got a little scary. The enemy went one step farther, “I can end this. All you have to do is stop fighting. Go back to your old life. You didn’t have panic attacks then. You’re a smart girl – drop your weapons and I’ll drop mine.” He was seriously asking for a truce!!!

Yes the devil was talking to me. What do you think negative self-talk is? Why would you ever say those lies to yourself? He is the father of lies.

“…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44 ESV

He has deceit down to an art. I honestly admit that he had me convinced. Why continue something that I can’t win? That’s insane. A suicide mission. But those are LIES.

The war has already been won.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 ESV

The devil likes to walk around with his chest pushed out. He is so desperate to win any battle because he already lost the war. He was humiliated and clearly isn’t too happy about it.

But here is some truth:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7 ESV

Not today, satan. Or tomorrow. Or the next day…or the next! I will resist. I will fight against every lie he tries to throw at me. I’m a child of God and I don’t have time for him.

The last source of confidence I tapped into this morning was from Steven Furtick’s song I Will Be Confident, “My assignment was conceived in His heart, His mind,  and the blessing ahead will always be greater than the battle behind. So this is not the time to compromise or entertain a thousand lies and a million reasons why I can’t or it won’t or it’s not or I’ll never. I’ve heard it before, So shut up, devil.”

Devil, it honestly has me excited how scared of me you are. It tells me my God is about to do some crazy amazing things through me. May the odds be ever in MY favor.

With confidence,

From my heavily guarded fortress. ❤

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