Battles in the Kitchen

Written by: Mandi Greene
My kitchen feels like a tornado ripped through it. The new flooring that my husband installed just last year has been torn up, the refrigerator is in the the dining room, and the dining room chairs are laying sideways across the hallway to stand in as a baby gate. It began when I noticed water seeping up between the planks in our flooring.  It turned out that the water line running to our refrigerator had been very slowly leaking since we hooked it up about 6 months ago.

Drip. Drip. Drip.
There was no standing water under the fridge. No evidence that anything was wrong until one day while doing the dishes, water started squishing up and wetting my socks. What appeared to be a mere annoyance was indicative of something much, much worse. Each drip from the faulty water line had been perfectly placed, falling one by one into a thin crack and disappearing beneath our finished floors. After six months of this, it had turned into a shallow pool reaching the entire width of our kitchen and bleeding into the dining room and hallway.
I thought we wouldn’t have to touch those floors again for at least another fifteen or twenty years. This time last year we were moving into our newly remodeled, very first home. I was signing on for nesting space for our baby on the way, a functional dishwasher and a bathroom close enough that my seven(teen) trips during the night didn’t require journeying to the other end of the house. But I was also signing up for more toilets to clean, more investment to lose in case of natural disaster, and a head full of brand new worries that had never plagued me before. My answered prayer for a home gave birth to a hundred more things that needed to be covered in prayer. A hundred more ways that our enemy could creatively sneak in and plant those seeds of doubt, insecurity, stress and fatigue.
At one time, it was my most dire prayer to become pregnant. It was something that we struggled with for a time and it seemed to be all I worried about. Back then, it felt like if that one prayer would come to fruition, it would be all I needed. But once again, God’s wonderfully gracious answer to that prayer spawned a hundred (a thousand? A million?) more. We made this little human and now my dependence on God was multiplied with the responsibility of learning to be his mother and raising him to be the kind of man this world needs, let alone the daily lean on God’s providence to combat the emotional toll and sleeplessness that comes with having a newborn.
I couldn’t have known how terrifying all of that would be, and I can’t fathom in five and fifteen and thirty years when those demands transform into completely different things along the way. Motherhood has changed everything; my self-identity, my notions of what it means to be a wife, a daughter, a mother and a friend. My whole world flipped, shook, and settled in a new configuration, and I realized that that’s what it feels like when God moves. It’s awe inspiring, but it’s also uncomfortable and often demands some amount of brokenness.
The reality of our blessings is that they fill us up, but they also take. When God says yes, we sign up for new levels of responsibility, more draws on our time, and greater depths of reliance on his grace to continue to carry us through. What we often don’t think of when we are asking God to champion for us is that we are signing up for war, because when God is moving, you can bet that Satan is, too.
Not in the big, predictable, easily avoided ways that we imagine and plan for. Satan is not the hurricane or the flood, the pit of swords or the forest fire. Satan is the faulty waterline connected to your fridge, slowly drip, drip, dripping away, flooding your kitchen floor right beneath your feet. His best laid plans are not meant to bring you down in one giant blow, but to chip away at you so gently that one day years from now you wake up missing an arm and can’t understand where it went.
The battle zone that is my kitchen was a perfectly timed attack during a tough week. I had a needling stress about money buzzing around the back of my mind, and the impending holidays seemed to be making sure I didn’t forget about it.
I had spent weeks of my sparse free time to work on a renovation project in our living room, then undid countless hours of that work with a ridiculous, rushed mistake.
My cell phone shut itself off out of the blue and never turned back on again. I couldn’t get a replacement for an entire week. I felt crippled without my main tool for coordinating my family’s schedule, communicating with my husband when we are apart, practicing my music for the worship band, photo documenting my baby’s every waking moment, and simply knowing what time it is, let alone what day of the year.
Then the water started seeping up from under our floor, and the deliverance God showed us back when we finally found the right house started to feel more like a curse. I’d like to say I recognized this attack for what it was, but I didn’t. I got into a funk. It was the middle of the week and I was grumpy about everything. I was annoyed every time I had to step over the chairs strewn across the hallway and the state of disarray that my house was in. Little things that went wrong and would normally roll of my shoulders seemed to dig in their claws and stay for a long visit. I picked an ugly fight with my husband, and after things exploded I thought back over the way I had been acting and genuinely could not rectify the person I see myself as with the alien that had taken over my body and been acting insane.
They seem like small things. One fight. One week with a broken phone. One frustrating mistake. One day that you treated your loved one poorly. One drop of water behind the refrigerator. But those moments turn into bad days, and if handled incorrectly those turn into much bigger, more lingering problems. The good news is that we are empowered to defeat these attacks, but we have to do the hard work. We have to fight those inconvenient battles in the kitchen.
Sometimes that means feeling worse before we can feel better. Sometimes that means tearing up all that newly laid flooring and launching the house into a state of disarray in order to keep more damage from happening. We have to be willing to take a sledgehammer to our seemingly pristine life if that’s what it takes to get rid of the water pooling beneath the floors, because if left to fester, wet socks will be the least of our problems. Black mold and a deteriorating foundation is a good way to bring the whole house down.
So tear up those floors. Swallow that pride. Invite Christ into your struggles and reach out to your brothers and sisters who are in the trenches with you. Stand vigilant guard over your home and abolish even the smallest attacks from our enemy as if your very life depends on it – because it does! Cultivating our blessings into the plan God has for us is hard work. It might not be what we imagined in our perfect vision of our lives, but it is good. And as with anything truly important in our lives, it is worth it.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
-Ephesians 6:13
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The most honest thing I can tell you about myself is that I am a total mess.  On any given day it’s likely that I have eaten breakfast, washed my hair, or put on clean clothes, but certainly not all three.  After six years of marriage to a man who can never be called boring, I’ve recently entered into the most challenging and inspirational season of life yet – becoming a new mom.  Having grown up as a part of the Oakwood family myself, I am overjoyed to begin raising my little one in the same loving arms.  It has been through this new beginning that God has continued working on me in completely new ways, and I am so thrilled to share this journey with you, and humbled that our Savior finds value in someone as ordinary and unremarkable as me and my middle class, suburban American life. – Mandi

One Response to “Battles in the Kitchen”

  1. Janna Wickham says:

    Sweet Mandi- this is such an inspirational read. I love that you are so genuine. Praise God for this ministry

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