Crappy Cake

I hate crappy cake, but on this day, I realized how often I ate it.

The Story

My husband and I had been married for eight years. Life was a ball of transition and stress. We had moved into a new house, learned my husband was losing his job,  and welcomed a new baby all within weeks of each other. We were now outnumbered by our kids and transitioning into all sorts of NEW.

Amidst this transition, my husband detached from all means of support, encouragement, and truth. He curled up inside and decided to cope in his way – a way that had been poorly serving him since he was a kid. The way that offered a pretense of escape and false happiness yet stole parts of his soul: porn.

This relapse, which he had intentionally fought for five years, resulted in a separation. Let me assure you this was NOT a choice I wanted to make, especially considering our season, our circumstances, and my exhaustion. He did NOT want this either, but we had agreed years earlier that this would be our game plan upon relapse, and I was determined to trust God’s timing and stick to it.

So there I was. A woman in her mid-30s, three small kiddos, a husband returning to his old destructive ways, and an enemy that prowls like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

On one particular morning, I was preparing to shower while the baby took his morning nap. As I waited for the shower water to warm up, I caught my reflection in the mirror. Immediately, I began to – what I suspect all women do – survey “the land.” I started with my hair and mentally beat myself up for it falling out. I looked at the discoloration of my skin from stretch marks and motherhood. I noticed my stomach and how it had changed due to the neglect from emotional eating.  As the visual surveying continued, the voices kicked into high gear.

If you wouldn’t have…

  • If you wouldn’t have had those babies so close together and got that baby weight off your husband would have never done this.
  • If you would have been less tired and not up at night nursing, he would not have done this.
  • If you hadn’t asked him to take the midnight feedings that resulted in him being tired and “off his game” this would have never happened

The narrative went on and on.

The Lord Steps In

I expect you can relate to a moment like this. When I share this story with women in our ministry there is a resounding YES!” and  “how did you get into my head?” I only laugh because I have discovered that the devil isn’t creative. I also cry because I know we are all suffering inside and unsure how to take these thoughts captive like the word of God asks of us in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

So back to the scene. As I stood there for another moment and looked at my lost and broken face with disgust and shame, I heard another voice whisper, “No, no, no, Lyschel, don’t eat crappy cake.”

I paused and scrunched my face. “Huh?” I thought. Then I heard it again. “Don’t eat crappy cake.”

If there is anything I have learned about doing life with the Holy Spirit, it’s that when something weird happens…it’s probably Him.  So I focused in. Taking a step into the shower, I said aloud,  “Ok, Lord, what does ‘don’t eat crappy cake mean’?”

In that moment, the Lord unpacked something that would change me forever. He met me in a place of anguish and gave me something so life giving. He tenderly offered me patience and kindness versus scolding me for not being more spiritual, more together, more of something other than I was. This is what came of that lesson.

Have you ever eaten crappy cake before?  Answer honestly? Have you?  Most of us have experienced taking a bite of cake and then being disappointed when it isn’t remotely as good as we hoped.

So here is how it plays out for me, I am so excited to see the piece of cake. I’m anticipating the enjoyment of it. I pick up the fork and take the first bite. Within seconds I realize, oh man, this is terrible. (For the record, my favorite cake is chocolate with chocolate icing in my mind!)

So once we have taken the first bite and realize the cake is terrible what do we do?  Again…be honest. I will tell you what I do. I TAKE ANOTHER BITE!  I know, we all do it. Why? Maybe in hopes that the first one wasn’t that bad or maybe in hopes of it getting better the second time around.

If you are like me, you don’t even stop at the second bite. You keep eating, and before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole piece of crappy cake. You finish, look at your plate, and immediately feel regret. You think, “Why did I just eat a whole piece of cake that wasn’t even good?!” There is regret, shame, and defeat all within minutes.

This analogy is exactly what I did mentally with all of the “what ifs.” I let Satan in my thoughts. I had the first “if you wouldn’t have” thought. It “tasted” terrible and I felt that, but it was also familiar. I was hopeful this was going to ultimately fix or explain something. So I listened for the next one, and it was another lie and serving of shame and self-hate. Then the next one came and before I stepped into the shower, I had consumed an entire piece of crappy cake!

Put the Fork Down

Ugh! When will I ever learn? Oh wait, that’s why we are here.

The Lord was teaching me a really basic but powerful truth as I stood in that shower and washed my hair. He was showing me how fast I took the first bite, he also showed me that I knew that it tasted terrible. That was a win and evidence of growth. But then He showed me how fast the thinking went from the first bite to the next,  the next,  and then the last. I knew how I felt after eating that entire piece of crappy cake, both mentally and metaphorically.

When those thoughts started as I stood in front of that mirror assessing the land. I had other choices in that moment. For years leading up to that moment, the Lord had been so devoted to showing me how loved I am by Him. He was committed to sharing His opinion about me all of the time. He had planted seeds of love and admiration in my soul by His word and communion with Him. There had been pre-work done leading up to this moment.

In other words, He had been working on resetting my mind for a while. He could have yelled, “You know better, Lyschel! You failed.  You are horrible. I did all this work in you, and still you fell for it!” And you know what….He didn’t.

He took the moment as another opportunity to remind me of His devotion, His patience, His willingness to help me learn more about myself and how I can keep growing.

So that crazy morning in the shower, God taught me a simple phrase: “don’t eat crappy cake.” I am loved, seen, heard, cared for and known by a Heavenly Father who refuses to let me stand in a mirror and let the devil beat me up with a list of “should haves.” He steps in and whispers something completely weird and catches my attention. He leads me to places that are life giving and lets me know He is proud of me. He doesn’t shame me.

I fully believe this is His character, and I hope you feel that, too. I pray that He makes you aware of the places where you are eating crappy cake, and He shows you that you have permission to put the fork down and push the cake across the table. I pray He whispers to get your attention and you respond.

Don’t eat crappy cake, my friend…it’s terrible for you.

(Just in case you need a daily reminder, grab one of these mugs!)

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