I was new to town, new to the state.
My dad had recently passed away, our daughter nearly passed away but was chronically ill.
My husband had a new job, our son, a new school.
I sat in the Sunday School class and fought the tears.
Everyone knew each other. You could tell there were thick bonds that I was so broken, I didn’t think my shattered self could mess with those bonds.
Some did visit my table and say hello but to hear the new laughter knowing all my 30+ years of friendships were laughing without me?
I thought I would lose my mind from grief.
Even as time marched on and I was intentional about getting involved, I still battled loneliness. The ache grew within me and I didn’t know what to do. Where are these friends I’m going to have for the rest of my life? Where are my girls who are going to whisk me to ice cream or take my phone call at midnight during a life and death moment? Where is my new life?
I asked the question enough of myself and God that one day I felt led to ask a trusted woman I considered not just a friend, but a mentor. She had a sweet spirit and I learned so much from her. She made me feel safe, so I asked her what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I making tons of friends?
She barely hesitated. But she did smile.
“You aren’t making friends because you aren’t supposed to.”
She continued. “You’re a leader. Leaders don’t have a lot of friendships. They can’t. You’re being prepared to touch a lot of acquaintances. You will spend a lot of time with them, loving them. Encouraging them. Praying for them. And when they go away, you will be drained. You will need refilling. And that is when you return to the very small circle that will be your very closest and dearest of friends.”
Those words blew me away, and scared me at the time. I liked the number of people I hung out with and called on in NY and that number wasn’t even close in Ohio.
Today that number is even smaller.
But what’s left is like a refining fire. Precious gold that I treasure. I’m so glad I listened to her because she’s right. I do a lot of praying for people and I love to encourage. And as much as I enjoy it, it takes a lot out of me. To do that and run with a group of girls to the mall would be too much for me. But to have those few that I can call, text or visit and say I’m spent, they get me. They’ve got me. And I’ve got them.
The second instruction I received was as I prayed. It was probably 5 years ago a lot of people were coming to me and their needs were great. Needs that if I got a counseling degree and won the Lotto, I still wouldn’t be able to help. But I was staying up nights worrying about them. How would that marriage work out? What about that person’s job? Is this one going to harm themself?
I could feel my emotions churning so hard my insides were becoming toxic. I was literally making myself sick.
And that’s when I received this one sentence as I prayed: “If you take these burdens on yourself, it will kill you.”
I knew that was from the Lord. It wasn’t condemning or a fear based sentence. It was a fact. And I decided right then I was going to immediately surrender the people and situations I pray for to Him. It might come off to some that I don’t care, but it’s quite the opposite. I care enough to do it right. I have to do it His way. It’s the only way those precious people are going to find answers.
I felt I was supposed to share this, so my guess is there’s someone reading who is feeling lonely with that ache I know too well. A leader in the making whose circle is getting smaller and smaller. Take heart. It’s by design.
Perhaps you’re a prayer warrior and your blood pressure is up and your emotions are down because you’re trying to find the solutions for everyone. You want to say the perfect thing to that person in need of Jesus. Been there. The word I received isn’t just for me.
If you take these burdens on yourself, it will kill you.
You’re too amazing for that.
Slow down. Look around and appreciate that group you’re in. That very small circle of people you can trust. Who are out to better you. That’s a rare thing to have. It’s a gift.
If you’re a prayer warrior/intercessor, learn surrender. Picture yourself as the vessel God gives the words to for prayer. And as you do, picture yourself laying that person and their things at the cross.
And leave it there.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you listened.
I wear a few hats in what makes me “me.” One I don’t write too much about but takes a big chunk of my life is an intercessor. Someone who prayerfully stands in the gap. Prayer Warrior. I’m always “on duty,” getting nudges during conversations, sermons, during a deep sleep, or in the shower. But the intensity comes in seasons, often like a pregnancy.
The hardest part for me is the transition phase. In childbirth this is when you verbally say you can’t go on. It’s a sign you are almost there. The baby book told me 20-45 minutes. My transition was 3 hours, ending only because of an emergency c-section. But when that baby was in my arms, it was worth it.
When my prayer life hits that transition phase, I often don’t even know what I’m praying for. I have an onslaught of tears I can’t explain and they come from a place so deep inside me it wears me out. Sometimes I have prayers that are groanings, an exhaustive push in the heavenlies, I suppose. I feel like I’m on the front lines, so mentally my stance is as a warrior.
I make sure I’m prayed up and wearing spiritual armor as described in Ephesians 6. All dressed up, so to speak, I’m ready to run out the door and go get the defeated one in a way that I envision like a scene out of Braveheart.
And you know what?
That isn’t part of this intercessor’s job.
Years ago I was told that all God was asking me to do was sit on the couch and let Jesus fight the battle for me. When He returned at the end of the day, He wanted to lay down on the couch with me and share His day. It transformed my thinking even though I still fight the temptation to run ahead of Him.
This time around, I did as always. There have been the pressing in times, proclaiming promises.Lifting up the weary. Then the tears. Weeping I couldn’t explain or understand, followed by prayers I don’t even know what I said. I just surrendered to the moment. But before long I was suiting up (which is good, again, Ephesians 6,) but I was racing out the door and ready to outpass my Lord. Picture the jogging game on Wii when you pass the leader who keeps you on pace. Yep, that was me.
Imagine my surprise when in my reading, which always increases during those transition seasons, I got my marching orders. In an article I read and the words jumped off the page. Basically, march yourself back and let the Lord work this through.
No front line battles where I boldly proclaim or decree.
Just a quiet, in my spirit, without fanfare, agree with the Holy Spirit.
Agree in His plan. And let Him execute it. Even when I don’t know the plan.
That directive has been at me for a few weeks now and it blows me away every time. Because I feel like I should be charging at the enemy through prayer. Instead, my focus is re directed back to my Commander, not the opposition. I’m agreeing, and trying to let go.
I can’t promise I’m going to be perfect at it, I guarantee I won’t be.
But if you wear a hat called prayer warrior, and if you think you’re in the transition phase and about to go gangbusters on the devil, take a step back and see if perhaps your marching orders are simply to agree.
And to God be the glory.
Each Sunday I share an amateur nature picture of mine with a few thoughts about God’s love for you.
Are you a praying person? Have you answered the call to be a prayer warrior or an intercessor? It’s not an easy assignment. In fact, without proper perspective, it can be crushing.
Your job is to stand in the gap and intercede for the person God has laid on your heart. The temptation is to feel the burden to be the one to solve their problems.
The Lord let me know a few years ago if I try, the burden will literally kill me.
So what do you do when people you love come to you with real problems, heartbreak, and situations?
And you keep it simple.
Simply put, you believe He is God.
Or, He isn’t.
The choice is yours.