It was very late at the end of a very rough day. Even though I was in bed, I couldn't sleep. Instead, the events of the day before were running on repeat through my mind.
It all started when I told my Dad (who lives with us) my plan to make some lifestyle changes. After weeks of prayer and discussion among our family, I made decisions designed to help me deal with some practical issues. Trust me, I didn't come to these conclusions lightly. I weighed all my options and decided on what I saw was the best path forward. After talking with my brother, he agreed. We needed to make some changes, and my choice seemed like a logical path.
Then, I had to tell my Dad, and he was less than thrilled. Instead, he was furious.
"This isn't how we've always done things. Why do we need to make changes?"
Well, life has changed, and we need to make adjustments.
He disagreed. That afternoon, he pulled out all the greatest hits he often used to control my Mom. He started with guilt, moved on to fear, and finally played the "your-Mom-wouldn't-like-this" card.
While I stood my ground at the moment, I felt like I'd been through a battle as I tried to sleep that night. All I wanted was to wallow in my pain, tell God all about it, and experience His comfort. I wanted to hear "Poor 'Dessa. You shouldn't have been treated that way."
That was not what happened. Instead, while I wanted to wallow and whimper, God wanted me to put on my warrior's wardrobe.
I can still remember as clear as day how, after I'd cried for a while, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the Scripture:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV)
What? This wasn't what I was expecting.
And yet, as clear as day, I knew the Holy Spirit was showing me that I wasn't really fighting with my Dad. (Big surprise because it sure seemed like I was.) Instead, I was fighting against the mindsets that were inside of me.
That last piece of information took a moment to sink in.
Yet, it was true. If there weren't strongholds in my life, I wouldn't have cared what my Dad said. I would have shaken it off and moved on.
The real problem was that my Dad's words agreed with the strongholds in my mind.
That night, I realized that I didn't need to fight with my Dad (the Holy Spirit and Jamie would deal with him); I needed to fight against the strongholds that came from unhealthy thoughts about what a godly woman should be and do that had long dominated how our home functioned.
I have to admit that this was a mind-blowing concept for me. It was the first time I saw the ideas as "strongholds." Yet, like a spotlight provides clear illumination and direction, realizing I was tearing down strongholds gave me a clear path and fresh motivation to continue moving forward with God's plan.
The next day, I immediately started studying what this verse meant. Starting with, precisely what is a "stronghold"?
I started with Joyce Meyer's book, "The Battlefield of the Mind." In this book, she defines a stronghold as "an area in which we are held in bondage (in prison) due to a certain way of thinking."
Interesting. I definitely felt like "a certain way of thinking" was keeping me in bondage.
These mindsets had strong roots in my life. That night, the Holy Spirit showed me that the key to my freedom was not fighting flesh and blood but fighting against the ways of thinking that had taken a deep root and had a stronghold in my life.
Using the sword of God's Word as truth, I needed to stop cowering, put on my spiritual weapons, and do whatever was necessary to tear down the lies deeply embedded in my brain.
Looking back, that day was not bad. Instead, it was a monumental, life-changing day.
Because as long as I whimpered and wallowed and believed I was fighting a person, nothing would change. However, when the Holy Spirit showed me that I was in a spiritual battle—well, this was a fight that could be won.
It didn't matter my circumstances or other's opinions. With God's help, I could walk in freedom.
The same thing is true for you.
So often, as we walk through life, we believe we are fighting with people or circumstances.
Yet, our real enemies are the strongholds in our minds.
The good news is that while we may not be able to change our circumstances or the people around us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can win the battle inside our minds. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us that God has given us the weapons we need. However, we must choose to use them.
That night, lying in bed, I decided that I would not be defeated by the strongholds in my mind any longer. I would fight to tear down lies and use God's Word to find the truth.
When fear, guilt, and lies came back around speaking to my heart and mind, I learned to raise the sword of God's Word and say, "Nope. God's Word says….even if it takes all my strength, I'm not going backward. I'm going fight to tear down strongholds and walk in freedom."
You can do it, too.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."