11. Mind Games

“The battle is fought in the mind.”
— Charlie Ivans
  

I have a confession to make. (As though I haven’t confessed enough already.) I love to play Castleville on Facebook … and there it is, on the written page, right before God and everybody. Well maybe not everybody, but you get my drift. If you’ve read “My Journey and Yours …” accessed on the title page of my blog, you may have already guessed that my story is about to become your story, and therefore our story.

Maybe I’ve  enjoyed the virtual game of Castleville because of its fairy tale theme, complete with dragons, unicorns, charming princes, coy princesses and an assortment of other endearing characters that pop in and out as the player completes quests and advances up the level ladder. But more than anything else, I enjoy the connections with new Facebook acquaintances, located around the globe, who have in common with me a love for the game. Some have actually become treasured online friends!

Actually, it wasn’t my idea to get sucked into the Facebook community. My daughter had been encouraging me for many months to take the plunge, but I was still in denial, having spent many years in self-imposed exile. I’d been negotiating the fibromyalgia gauntlet for well over a decade, and I had maneuvered myself into a comfortable position where I could avoid contact with extended family and well-meaning friends.

I’d stopped talking on the phone, unless it was absolutely necessary. But I was in a place at that point where I was beginning to feel a bit lonely. So occasionally, I peeked out of my carefully contrived “castle” to test the waters in the moat. I fully expected Paula-eating alligators to attack me there. But each time I courageously dipped my toes in the trench, my outlook seemed a little less threatening than it had the time before.

Lisa, Tim and granddaughters, Selah and Jessa, live with Chuck and me in a house provided by the Lord for the six of us. If ever God planted the seed of a miracle into — at that moment in time — the soil of our broken lives, it was the house and property that fell into our possession in July of 2003.  The term “fixer-upper” could hardly describe the unfriendly structure that would eventually feel like home. There were rats in the walls and cat feces scattered throughout. Used personal hygiene items and other assorted filth left behind by the previous owners also had to be dealt with.

But Papa Chuck assured us that he could “see” how our casa would eventually turn out, and how it could accommodate our suddenly blended family. I knew better than to question his judgment, since he had proven repeatedly that he was up to the task whenever he decided to take on a remodeling project.

However, my inner child screamed, “Noooo, NOT AGAIN!”

I remembered the house that he’d purchased — without my knowledge or permission — in the late 1970s, just a few years into our marriage. He very simply walked through the door of our then-current house —  which he had remodeled as much as he deemed possible — and announced to his young wife and the mother of his two-year-old daughter (a.k.a. ME): “I bought a house. But it’s in such bad shape that I don’t want you to see it yet.” I recalled how, with his typical youthful fervor, he had given the “go ahead” to an elderly friend with an amazing gift for masonry to knock out one of the living room walls and begin constructing a fireplace … BEFORE THE CLOSE OF ESCROW! Thankfully, all the details eventually fell into place, and we moved in shortly thereafter.

But setting that stressful marital history aside, I can once again admit that my husband / provider came through once again as I look back on all that Chuck has done over the years to make that disgusting house into our enjoyable home. Having my daughter and son-in-law, plus two amazing girls with us, pretty much 24/7, has been a huge  blessing as well.

So one day, as Lisa was telling me about something that she’d seen on Facebook, I said for the umpteenth time, “Maybe I’ll sign up for that some day.” The next thing I knew, she was sitting at my computer typing. And before I could say, I really don’t think I’m ready for this, I had my very own “wall” for writing messages and a list of potential “friends” to communicate with. For the next few days I received dozens of messages from “kids” – now in their 30’s – whom I’d had the pleasure of working with years earlier – as a youth worker at church, as a creative writing consultant in elementary schools, and as a volunteer with performing arts, the counseling department, and the career center for my children’s high school (my own alma mater).

With the help of treasured encouragement from my Facebook friends and online acquaintances, I began reflecting more on the good ol’ days than dwelling on the decidedly bad ones. I was reminded that I have valuable gifts to offer, as well. And I also  realized that Facebooking offered me an avenue for sharing my faith and broadening my career horizon.

That was it. I was hooked.

I’ve discovered that social networking is a terrific avenue for sharing my faith in Christ, and for testing the limits of my boundaries with non-believers…. Talk about “mind games”! Yet as long as I remain yoked to Jesus, as He commanded in Matthew 11:29, He carries the burden when I encounter quarrelsome individuals. And He lets me know when to terminate my conversations with hard-hearted humans who simply want to argue about religion. However, before I cut off any connections, I make the point that faith in Jesus is based on relationship, not religion, and I wish them well.

Oh, I have another confession to make: Facebook and Castleville are both highly addictive.

 

“Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
    you may stand your ground, and …
Take up the helmet of salvation …”

(Ephesians 6:13,17)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Opening your heart and life to people can be difficult — and risky! A heart that is open to encouragement must also invite criticism that’s not always meant as constructive. A life  that welcomes praise must be prepared to deal with rejection and sorrow. But if you read Isaiah 53, you’ll find that God has always had an eternal blueprint for those who willingly accept the salvation he offers through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus — Yeshua, in Hebrew.