Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 1
Trigger warning: This book talks about the death of his young daughter, Lenya. It doesn’t necessarily talk about it in great detail. However, it is referenced quite often. Take Back Your Life is meant to be a 40-Day interactive journey to thinking right so you can live right. Honestly, if I had to try and just read one chapter a day, I would never finish it. Typically, I read the entire book through in a day or so. Then, I go back through and highlight the parts that stood out to me. That way, when I go back to it, I can see the details that stuck out and marinate on those parts instead of rereading the whole book.
If you want to get super technical, I read the introduction first. Then, I go and read the last chapter. After that, I read the ending parts and acknowledgments. Lastly, I go back to the first chapter and start the book. Doing book reviews like this is odd, but this is the only way I have read any book. Please know you can read any of these books any way you choose.
Ants vs. Mosquitoes
Levi Lusko starts with a weird analogy. As I reread the highlighted passages, the words resonated with me. “Ants…public enemy number one… Ants do not carry yellow fever or malaria… Mosquitoes do… Mosquitoes love water. Mosquitoes were laying their larva and thriving. The ant moats – the very things people thought were keeping them safe – were costing them their lives. I’ve made the mistake of doing the right thing the wrong way. Fought the ants but fostered the mosquitoes. By following my feelings, I have become trapped in moods that should have not had a hold on me. By failing to take my thoughts captive, I have allowed anxiety to have a seat at the table reserved only for God and paid for with the blood of his Son. Leave the ants alone. It’s time to swat some mosquitoes.”
Note that I left out a lot of words. I pieced together this, so it is his words but condensed. Wow. That is a notecard I need to make. The notecard needs to state Ants vs. Mosquitoes. The ants and mosquitoes are an odd way to start Take Back Your Life. Yet, it is something that you will remember. I would love to get someone else’s thoughts on this book’s “Before” section. He talks about idols and how they are not necessarily bad things. “They are good things that are treated as ultimate things.” What are your “ultimate” things?
I need to ponder on that.
Romans 7:15 states, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Feelings are fleeting. We can not base our life on what we feel in the moment. Levi Lusko relates that to our vision. He says, “Looks can be deceiving. We can look at something but not see what’s there. Ant that means we cannot trust what we see with the naked eye. You can’t trust what you see and the decisions you make based on that. You need more.”
We are quick to judge, determine, decide, or do as we see things. However, what we see may not be what is there. I can look at a child and see someone who has behavior issues. There are so many things that I do not understand, and it causes a great deal of frustration for a family. For example, the husband could have found a child huddled in the kitchen corner, out of sight, with a ton of food items hidden in their child’s shirt and lied about having it in their shirt.
What does that look like to a parent without trauma? Disobedience? Stealing? Lying? Yep, it sure does. Especially since the parents stated that the child had just had supper and ate more than a grown person, they know that this child was not hungry.
Discipline? “Go to your room, you are not watching a movie tonight, no dessert, why would you lie, why didn’t you just ask if you were still hungry, you are going to make yourself sick by shoving that much food in your mouth.”
From the eyes of someone who has been through trauma and neglect, you can see that this child was not any of those described above, and none of that discipline was appropriate. The parents see one thing, but this little brain is acting out of fear and remember when this child was neglected and hungry. For the parents of a child like this, their feelings can be straight-up anger because of what they SEE, but they MUST pay attention to what they cannot see.
“Night-Vision Telescope called Faith.”
“You’re going to see potential. You’re going to see they’re destined for impact. They were made in the image of God. There is amazing potential packed inside of them.” As believers, we are part of the priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). He says, “And when you see problems, you’ll automatically assume that God’s working things together for your good. When you look at them with the naked eye, not so much. But when you look through the lens of faith, you’re not going to get discouraged, because you’re going to remember that God has a plan.”
Do you have any idea how hard that concept is? A knee-jerk reaction is an anger (anger is fear and/or sadness). It is so frustrating to have the same conversation over and over and over, and it goes nowhere. The same thing continues to happen.
My first thought is never to assume that God’s working things together for my good or the good of this child. As a believer, that doesn’t sound very good. Yet, I’m also human and not perfect. Raising kids from trauma is hard.
Your Story Now is Not the End of Your Story
Levi Lusko states, “Through faith, eternity becomes visible. When you operate in faith, you know that what you see is not the end of the story. You may not be happy with your story right now. You may be disappointed or grieving or bored, or maybe you’ve forgotten you’re living a story at all. But you are. Uncover what has been hidden in plain sight. When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible.”
That is a powerful statement right there! What I see right now in the above story is a lot of pain, trauma, hurt, unforgiveness, self-hatred, and complacency. When these parents look around, they see all the things that are broken, screwed up, and need attention. They can’t just enjoy the things that have been done or improved. When do they choose to look through the lens of faith? When they see the invisible.
The Battlefield of the Mind
“Before we can do the great things we’re called to do out there, we must get things squared away on the inside. I’m talking about the war within.” Let me just tell you, the battlefield of the mind is real. Joyce Meyer wrote a book and Bible study on that very subject.
Ending the stigma of mental illness is something that needs to happen. You will encounter more people who struggle with something than if they were completely “normal.” We must have compassion and show love and encouragement. I’m told quite often to capture my thoughts. Yet sometimes, they are already on the train heading 200 mph down the track before I even catch up with them to capture them.
My self-image is a constant struggle for me. Constant. I look in the mirror and do not like what I see. Honestly, I try to make myself as small as possible to avoid anyone seeing me or calling attention to my wrinkles, my obesity, my moles, my personality, or my behaviors. Again, this all resides on the battlefield of the mind.
In Take Back Your Life, it says, “Jesus said, the message of the gospel isn’t try; it’s trust. You don’t have to carry the weight of what you can do for me; just stand on the strength of what I have done for you. Once you’re under that umbrella called grace, how God views you, your identity, doesn’t change day to day with your behavior or with your activity.”
“What God says about you? You are loved. You are chosen. You are called. You are equipped. But I had a bad week…. Loved. Called. Chosen. Equipped. But I haven’t been a good ~wife, mother, friend, human~ Loved. Called. Chosen. Equipped. God doesn’t love you more on your best day or less on your worst day.”
Honestly, the words “Loved. Called. Chosen. Equipped” will probably find a permanent place on my body. I already have the words “perseverance, survivor, warrior” written in Amharic. I feel as if I’m going to be adding to those words. They are powerful. These words need to be remembered, even on my bad days.
Part 2 is headed your way tomorrow or Monday. We shall see!