Led by Love

Follow whatever and whoever makes you feel good.

Inhale a haze of noxious smoke to think more clearly. Ignore the cough and the lethargy. Close your eyes to the effects on your children’s health, especially the asthma. Accept a lifetime of struggling for the money to stay supplied. Nothing comes first.

More smoke. Breath in the bliss. Don’t worry about the places it takes you. These people have guns, and they anxiously look you up and down. You don’t belong here, but this has given you the only version of happiness that you remember feeling.

Feel the warmth of the vodka and bourbon’s burn, as it unknots the stresses of the day and removes all responsibilities and fear. Ignore the aching, spinning head and the paralysis of the next day. Make excuses for the effects and consequences of choices made while under the influence. It’s the only way to feel anything close to joy.

Find euphoria and acceptance in the magical moments of a new relationship…then another…and another. Take no consideration of your character. Don’t concern yourself with potential risks, and ignore all red flags. Live for the moment, without worrying about the effects on your children and other people. Feeling accepted for a time helps you to overlook the loathing of yourself.

Escape the pressures of life completely…for a few days, anyway. A tiny tab of paper presents itself as an instant vacation. You won’t remember all the details (and some would be better forgotten), but it will get you away from your reality for about three days.

Give in to the fear. The struggle is too great. Don’t go to the mailbox anymore, because you can’t pay the bills. Leave the buggy of groceries beside the dairy case, because you feel the intense heat of everyone’s stares. They are looking right through your exterior, seeing the real you…the ugly, unlovable you. Stay away from people.  Instead, stay where you’re more comfortable.

Seek “help”, but only on your terms. Something has to give, because you can’t keep this hidden forever. You have responsibilities. You are responsible for your children. You can’t function without assistance, so seek help from those who will give you something. Accept any and all diagnoses to explain your “condition”, and stay medicated. The medication provides new feelings to follow.

Watch your health deteriorate, as you sail through a barrage of medication changes, sometimes taking up to five different pills per day. Lithium, Depakote, Zoloft, Prozac, Klonopin, Lamictal, Trileptol, Seroquel, and more. Add in Glucophage, also, because the other meds have messed up your sugar. Now, accept a Type II Diabetes diagnosis.

This was my life. To put it simply, I followed my feelings. I did what made my flesh feel good, and I avoided what made my flesh feel uncomfortable. I knew that my actions were wrong, but I didn’t know another way to live. I was a prisoner of my feelings. When my feelings were confused, I allowed myself to be led by those people with whom I had surrounded myself. Guess what? They were led by their own faulty feelings.

I could have continued to follow my feelings forever, and I have no doubt that was the devil’s plan for me…But as the enemy whispered lies in one ear, a sweetness echoed in my other. Hope. I KNEW that there must be more! I was missing something! So, I began to seek God.

I had had many one-sided conversations with God, but I honestly didn’t know much about prayer and relationship with Him. I knew how to talk, but not how to listen. I knew how to read the Bible, but I struggled with seeing its relevance to my life. There was another way to live, there had to be…but, I needed help.

That help came in the form of church. I had attended several churches over the years, but my focus was always more on the people there, and how I thought I was perceived by them. I was too dirty for their handshakes and smiles. This time, it was different. I determined that I would seek God, and not the approval of people. I had begun to look back thru the pain, and I could see that most of my “issues” originated from a low opinion of myself, as compared to others. The courage to look back…Already, the miraculous had begun.

Did you see that? God began changing me the very instant that I chose, in my heart, to seek and learn more about Him!

I did begin going to church again, but not just ANY church. A friend had repeatedly invited me to her church…one that believed and taught from the whole Bible, not just parts and pieces…a church that acknowledged the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Fast forward to the present, now.

I am still following, but I am following the One I was created to follow…Jesus Christ! He has shown me, with the guidance of His sweet Holy Spirit, that I am loved, unconditionally.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.”  – Psalm 139:14

I know, now, that my own feelings are not so trustworthy, because they can be easily manipulated by the enemy.

All those horrible thoughts that plagued me for years…All those grisly images that kept passing through my mind, requiring something to numb their effects…They were merely temptations by the devil, thoughts that I entertained because I didn’t know that I could choose otherwise!

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” – Hosea 4:6

 I know that the word of God, His truth, is reality. This knowledge has opened up a door, and I have stepped through it. It is an adventure, to be sure! Every step that I take, following Jesus, leads to greater peace within me.

Peace – Freedom from strife, nagging negativity, and drama; a calm “knowing” that, in my weakness, He is strong; the ability to look past the distractions of the world and see beauty; the lack of internal conflict.

I still live in this flesh body and I still experience feelings. The difference is that I no longer live my life BASED on feelings. By making this choice, I have allowed God to bless me in so many ways, just as He wants to bless you.

You see, when you choose to follow Him, a miraculous thing happens to those feelings…they change. Helplessness changes to hopefulness, and unlovable changes to beloved. When the negative arises, you have the choice to dwell there, or to look for God in the midst of it all.

Jesus died on the cross and rose again so that I could be lifted out of my past. He cleared out a path for me. He made a way for me to follow Him and not my flesh. That girl who accepted anything to mask the pain of living has been changed. I wasn’t worthy, by myself, of anything good…But by choosing Him, I chose the worthiness and redemption that He has for me.

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live – Deuteronomy 30:19

Now, I am enamored with this journey. I don’t know everything. I don’t know what is around the next curve of the path, or even how long the path is. All I know is that, even in the rough and rocky spots, there is a hand that steadies me. When I slip, that same hand catches me. If I fall, His hand is ready to pull me back up again. All I have to do is take it.

No more addiction to smoke, drugs, alcohol, or people. I am no longer a prisoner of fear. I am free to live.

 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” – 1 John 4:16

Friends, we were created to follow, but not just anything or anyone. We were created to be led…not by feelings but by Love, Himself.

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