By Lindsey Feldpausch
I was behind the wheel of my minivan, driving home with the kids on an average afternoon. The drive was long. My mind began to wander. I started thinking about some recent decisions my husband and I had made. Worry ensued. Anxiety settled in. I began to doubt. Then a full emotional unraveling commenced. Tears fell—first slowly, then frantically. I needed to halt my spiraling feelings, but because we were driving out in the country, there was no shoulder on the road and thus, no option for me to pull over and regroup.
I tend to feel emotions to their fullest extent, and though I’ve learned how to keep them in check increasingly as I’ve matured, occasionally it’s difficult. Thinking of my route home, I wondered if there was a parking lot I could pull into so I could take a few deep breaths. I thought about french fries—maybe some of those would help. No. Maybe I could call someone? Not while I was driving and not with the kids present to hear me melt down.
Suddenly I realized exactly where I needed to go. There was a church a few miles down the road. I didn’t know what kind of church it was, but I passed it frequently and had a feeling it was legit.
Some part of me thought, What am I going to do, just walk into a church crying? They’ll think I’m crazy. The part of me that knew better answered, No. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy but for the sick. If they’re a church that believes the Bible, then I know there will be someone I can talk to. I just need to pray with someone.
I clenched the steering wheel as I pulled into the driveway. To my dismay, I encountered a locked gate. I was so frustrated. I was trying to make a good choice during an emotional collapse, and here I was, locked out of my best option. I cried a mix of angry and pitiful tears. Then a truck pulled up. The gate opened, and a man rolled down his window and asked, “Sugar, are you okay?” (Did I mention I was in Texas when this happened? People call strangers “Sugar.”) I couldn’t muster an answer, but he obviously saw what I was feeling and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll get you into the church, and we’ll find someone to help.”
I followed his truck through the gate and parked the van. As we walked into the church he said, “You need Momma Kay. Follow me.” A kind staff member appeared seemingly out of nowhere and redirected the kids to a room to watch cartoons and play for a little while.
“You wait here,” the man said.
I leaned against the wall, heart thumping as a range of emotions surged through me. Around the corner came Momma Kay. She was wearing yellow polyester pants, a cream blouse, a simple cardigan, and a look that told me she had seen my kind before.
She led me into an otherwise empty room, where we sat down together.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I’m a Christian. I love Jesus. I read my Bible this morning, but I just—I just get these feelings sometimes that overtake me, and I have a hard time getting control,” I said tearfully.
She studied me. “Do you want to hurt yourself or is your family in danger?”
“What about your husband? Has he hurt you?”
“No, not at all. Actually…”
I was about to say “Actually he’s a pastor,” but I stopped because sometimes it’s okay not to say that. I just wanted someone to share biblical truth with me as if I didn’t know it all. Because I don’t.
“Actually, my husband is a wonderful man,” I said calmly.
“Then I need you to listen closely to what I’m about to say,” said Momma Kay. “The devil doesn’t care about your devotional time this morning. The devil doesn’t care about which pages you read. It doesn’t even matter if you think you believe what you read. Ain’t none of that gonna save you. What’s gonna save you is if you know that you know down in your bones the truth you’re picking up and reading day after day. If you don’t know it and live it, then ain’t nothin’ gonna help you, Sugar.”
I was transfixed as she continued.
“Don’t just read. Don’t just pray.”
Momma Kay put her index finger up and moved her hand side to side with the rhythm of her words. Chills swept over my insides as the fears of five minutes ago dissolved.
“Stand up,” she said.
I stood. We were almost the same height. Beautiful creases adorned her face. Gray hair dangled sweetly across her forehead. She put her hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes.
“You tell that devil, ‘Not today are you gonna convince me I’m a bad mom. Not today are you gonna tell me I’m a bad wife. Not today are you gonna steal my joy. Oh no sir!’ No weapon formed against you shall prosper! You will overcome that devil by the blood of the lamb and by the word of your testimony!”
Her voice escalated with every word until she sounded loud enough for hell itself to hear. Then, in a firm voice just above a whisper, she said, “Not. Today,” all the while moving her index finger again, back and forth to the slow beat of her sermon to my soul.
You never forget something like that. Never.
In my mind, I can go right back to the moment when Momma Kay spoke those words to me and remember their power. She gave me an invaluable gift. Me, a stranger, in a church I’d never been to, in a state that is now a thousand miles away.
Because of Momma Kay, I know what to tell my daughters, the young women in our church, and my weary friends. Not. Today. I know what to tell myself in the morning when I’m just reading the Bible and forgetting to believe it down in my bones. I know the Scriptures to recall when the weight of my life seems crushing. I have a new phrase tucked away for times of unruly feelings and thoughtless fears.
Are you having one of those times right now? Have you lost sight, even for just a moment, of God’s precious truths about you?
Listen. I’m going to tell you what Momma Kay told me. You tell that devil, “Not. Today.”
Lindsey Feldpausch is a creative writer, graphic design enthusiast, social media coordinator, and sinner saved by grace who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her worship leader/youth pastor husband and four delightful kiddos fill life with unbelievably amusing quotes and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice.