Shanann is a homebody at heart who has found healing through writing. She is pursuing a Degree in Human Resources. She is from Montego Bay, Jamaica where she lives her family and an unpredictable dog called Moon.
“Can we follow the Savior far, who have no wound or scar?”
-Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary
My views of who God is have been constantly challenged over the years. He has changed from the one with superhuman powers, too strict, incomprehensible, too genocidal, unfair, proud, judgmental, and then almost whiplash inducing, wham! I stand face to face with Christ. The image of the invisible God. I had a hard time reconciling the Pillar of Fire Old Testament God, to the Human God of the New.
Most of what I knew of God was secondhand information. I repeated church lingo. Like Ruth, I knew Him as their God before He became my God. That’s why the question Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16:15 was so important. When all the curtains are closed, when we are alone, who do we say Christ is? Is He Lord? God? Or mere flesh and bones, disintegrated and forgotten? Perhaps a figment of our imagination? A crutch humanity falls upon because we are hopelessly in need of hope? Who do you believe Christ is?
I could praise Christ’s attributes from now until eternity, but the part of Him that connects with me the most is how he walked around in flesh. Gosh! God really just came down and showed us how to be human. He is the God that bled, worked, got thirsty, felt pain, cried, needed food, was betrayed, had to ensure his breath was fresh and asked for another way out when gruesome death was near. He even got angry, turned over tables that one time. So much for the gentle Jesus, meek and mild.
When emotions threaten to consume you, and anxiety seeks to control you, look to the God who knows exactly what that feels like. Remember the Garden of Gethsemane. It would be insufficient to just have a God who understands but is no help. Christ is much more, He is enduringly triumphant. He told Thomas, “Put your finger in my scars.”
Are you bleeding from wounds? Jesus’ response is, “See my scars, touch the jagged skin, I have healed from them.” He boasts, and rightly so, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” Expressed differently He is saying, “Hope in me, I have the power to let you overcome too.”
Practical Tip: Write the attributes of God you have experienced for yourself. Answer, Who is Christ to you?
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. – Isaiah 43:2
I woke one night on the verge of a panic attack. It wasn’t a bad dream. My thoughts shook me awake. Endless questions, self-pity, comparison invaded my mind. I pushed them away during the days successfully. My life is busy. To rest or rather sleep, I usually listen to a sermon or music not to let my spirit feed during my shut eye hours but so my spinning mind had something to focus on. That night, I went to bed without one on. I suspect my mind couldn’t carry the worry any more. So, at 1:19 am, I thought I would lose my mind. My heart rate was faster than ever and the moderately spacious room felt so hard to breath in. No matter the affirmations I repeated, “You are not a failure” “Your calling is different” “You are doing your best.” “Pursue progress over perfection.”
I didn’t believe a word of it, so to cope with those thoughts, I did the usual. I got up and scrolled through Instagram until I tapped out at 3:20 am. I think about that morning often, even though I couldn’t feel God, He was with me. I knew too, He could calm my restless heart, I was tired. Thus began my journey to healing.
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure according to the American Psychological Association.
Maybe you have a bad record at work, or slipped up publicly at church, or failed your courses, or got rejected by the opposite sex again, maybe your attempt to be liked by peers blew up or you battle an ongoing sickness or even concealing a secret you fear will ruin your life. All of which leads to worry and frustration.
I used to expect things to never affect my mood, that being a Christian means having a permanent VIP pass to the front seats of Unspeakable Joy. The Holy Ghost security would stop anxiety and despair (without my effort) so they can’t crash my happy concert. I appreciate now an even grander reality, one that stares down the length of days on the greatest human suffering imaginable and through the lenses of the gospel, find hope. That is what we will be fighting for these 30 Days, HOPE.
Practical tip: Express your worry, I mean the real reason why you feel uneasy. All of it. Tell it to a trusted friend/s, seek professional help, write it down, say it to God. Expect Him to hear. Expect Him to draw near. He already is.
We are all a part of God’s grand scheme! No matter the underlying reason for your birth, whether accidentally or purposefully, God thought long and hard and He intentionally chose YOU to be a part of His divine plan.
The simplest way to answer this question is; “because the Lord wanted it to be so” but let us examine the scripture to understand more.
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18.
The Wonderful in wisdom looked and saw Adam and saw that he needed something else. For a man to be functional and effective, God knew he was lacking something, and so the Creator of all creatives made women.
Can you imagine a world without any woman? Imagine how dull it would have been. Our fathers would not have the warm tender hugs, no one to jump in the laps or to ride on their backs. Our brothers? Oh, how they will miss our annoyance, our inquisitive nature, always wanting to be a part of the ‘boy’ stuff. Our friends and colleagues, what would they do without our waves of laughter, our opinions on dressing, our advice even when they don’t ask for it, and for always keeping them in the loop? They simply could not survive with us. What about our husbands? It would deprive them of our tender touch and nurturing care.
I know as women they have socialized us to think that we were all created for the same reason; ‘marriage’ we live our lives as hopeless romantics waiting for our prince charming. There is so much to womanhood than that, we may never be wedded, but God’s plan for us to help the men in our lives remains. Our brothers, fathers, and friends still need to be impacted by the gifts in us.
God intentionally and purposely created you woman to carry out his plans in this generation, will you accept?
Today’s Challenge: Focus on the men God has placed in your life. Are you impacting them the way you should? Have you deliberately honored God by fulfilling your roles and responsibilities as a godly woman?
Today’s Verse for Meditation: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nationswoman for this generation. (Jeremiah 1:5, KJV. Emphasis and wording mine).
Today’s Affirmation: I accept my role and responsibilities as a woman, and in this season of my life I commit my time, talents, and treasures to purposely assist and impact the males in my life.
We can sum the law up to two commands Jesus said. It is to love God with everything and your neighbor as yourself. The shooting on Sunday killed our neighbor. The act alone has shown us our love for our neighbor has gone quite cold. I am ashamed to say that right after I watched a video that shook the cores of my soul; the next fascinated me, telling me how much money Ronaldinho’s wife gets from him monthly. Some burden I had.
Crime after crime, death after death, our numbness to evil deepens. We shout, we protest, we condemn, we post but it’s all just for the moment. Days after I had been intentional about trying to forget the incident all together. But why? Why does acknowledging it consistently cause such a strain? Something in me knows things are not supposed to end this way, something in me knows I am responsible. But no, individually, we could never be the problem, right?
We have made calls on the church (which we are a part of) to be more relevant. We’ve read statistics, condemned religious leaders who bring shame on the institution, judged our own leaders for lack of mobility, and yet we received the Great Commission individually too. If your home, workplace, school, or community remains Christless, you are a part of the problem.
Never have I seen multitudes of people going to a street service for evangelism in scriptures. It was always one and two about their business, rather, the king’s business, burdened with the gospel that saves. They didn’t need an organizational effort, but their own compassion led them to share the most precious thing we can experience on earth, God. I am not against hosting street services, but it should never be a replacement of our daily neglect of souls. Evangelism is not a service, or event, it’s a lifestyle.
There is something more deadly than the bullets that killed our neighbor on Sunday. It is the gospel that is there to always fulfill my needs, first. I don’t have time; I must build a bigger barn. I don’t have the energy; I must reserve for studying. I can’t stay up to pray, I must be ready for an exam tomorrow. I don’t have the resources; I have a new event coming up. I can’t pursue that right now; it will make me uncomfortable. I can’t carry the weight of dedication; I have other interests to be the best at. The gospel that kills is a gospel that refuses to love our neighbor as ourselves, the gospel that is selfish. Paul says, “Don’t be selfish, don’t just look out for your own interest but look on another man’s interest.” (Phil. 2:3-4) How differently would our life look if we followed this?
I was in the car with my family and a lady from my community. They were talking about the incident (the one I was trying to forget) and the lady said, “A coworker said when we were talking about the shooting, where was God?” I answered internally, in His church, restrained by His body. A body that refuses to move. What if that gunman had been ministered to and gotten saved, what if that lady had heard about baptism in Jesus’ Name and received the gift of the Holy Ghost before he killed her? The country is looking for immediate solutions, I know no other than when a man who has seen God. What if we stopped not caring about others, stop being indifferent to our heavenly calling?
If you have been feeling the call, perhaps you don’t know what to do about it yet. You don’t need a method; it doesn’t need to make sense; you don’t need a platform, God needs a vessel. Listen when He calls. That’s it.
Philippians 2:17 NLT. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.
Before you think I am here to judge you if you have watched it, I have read the book and many others too from the author. Let me just say, if you love the romantic and sensual vibe of the show, the book is wayyy better. I am a reader and in my younger years; they have not always been on the spiritual side, rather, they never were. Hunger Games, Twilight, romance stories my friends wrote, and so many others I found online kept me quite occupied. I get it, romance series, movies, books, gif, memes all of them are captivating. Especially for a teenager or young adult who longs to experience it themselves, it’s tasting the rainbows without eating the skittles. So this is what I would say to my younger self before I read, “The Duke and I.”
No one prepared you for this, these surprising years of sexual curiosity. No one told you, your feelings were natural, that you weren’t dirty if you found boys attractive. I know you see others in relationships. They usually won’t end well. You might even feel that you are missing out, but the boys will be too immature to give you the love you desire. You are immature to fully appreciate the beauty of the dance between the sexes. You might think you get to experience love without actually having it by reading this book but as you will look back on those moments and say they didn’t satisfy, no, they awakened a greater thirst for what was natural yet wrong in the present situation. It wasn’t love that was awoken, it was lust. Untamed passions that clawed for satisfaction now.
When you grow older, these images and ideals will scar you deeper than you expected. When you learn that in the end, your heart was searching not merely for romantic love but to be found, to be seen, to be fully accepted. As you grow older, you will be fully known and loved, but the memories etched in your mind will make your heart wander over and over again. Trying to grasp that which is fleeting. Because it seems easy. Easy to hide in, easy to settle for, because it is familiar. It holds no eternal weight. You will find it empty, EVERYTIME. You will have to pray for God to fix your thoughts, to heal your perceptions and reign in your urges. You will beg Him not to want to read it anymore, to free you from your presumptuous behavior, to awaken your limping conscience.
Love between a man and a woman is beautiful. But that’s that not the only way to experience love. It’s odd in that you will find it many unexpected places. You will learn intimacy doesn’t need to come from sensual caresses. You will learn not to wait on a relationship, that joy, peace, adventure, connections, don’t need to be put on hold, but right then, as a whole person, you are free to experience it fully. I hope you learn contentment and fight these days that would rob you of freedom. Stay anchored to a godly community. Even if your time before this moment is stained, God has accounted for it in His story. You will have a beautiful life wherever He takes you.
N.B. Error in name during recording is that of the author, not the narrator.
I’d like to convince you to read your bible, but I am careful to not approach it loosely. Bible reading is a spiritual discipline. But that is who I want to appeal to in this post, your spiritual man. Has it not been miserably unpredictable to fight without a Sword? This year has tried us and some of us found we weren’t gold but bramble. Our faith fled from beneath and left us on our faces crying, hoping we would just survive. Our faith was so fragile because our knowledge and belief was so limited. 2021 is coming and as a generation, we should learn from our mistakes, we should invest in reading our Bibles. Yet, at the heart, is it merely reading? Far from it actually, It is to have our hearts bowed, our minds engaged, our ears listening and our spiritual man feeding. Yes, we have tried Bible reading before, but what if we did that consistently? What if we mixed discipline, the Word and faith? Would it make a difference?
I have always sought answers to rid myself of procrastination and selfish actions. Seeking also about my purpose, loving neighbor, serving my community, the ‘Christian’ stuff. But no matter the number of videos I watched, articles I read, or psychological tactics I followed, none of them worked. I was dealing with a state of rebellion and outright thirst for sin, that I couldn’t outrun even if I wanted to.
I often wonder if others aren’t extremely disturbed about the reality of evil in them. Evil that sleeps at our doors. No evil that decides it’s a permanent roommate. That in hearing the sermons and feeling the Spirit, it is not enough for the smell of stale vomit to draw us away. To find it pleasing, to pursue it, even at the expense of our conscience.
I ramble on in thought, what else do I need? What is the secret prayer or length of fasting? Maybe it is to detach from everyone, you know, no outside influences? I dipped in the bagged candied Christian goodies and no quick fix helped. To live with a heart set on sinning and a mind that desires to please God is a torture that rips you apart from the inside. Subsequently, a friend reached out and asked that I joined them in studying a book of the Bible. This is what I found out:
Awareness of Sin
Sharpened Sword for Battles
Deeper Understanding of God
Precious Thoughts’ passion is that we don’t sleep on the Word next year (Lord’s willing). We are labouring towards the freedom of youth everywhere, and we know it is by knowing truth that we experience liberty. His word is truth. We are completing next year (Lord’s willing), “90 Days New Testament Bible Challenge” that starts on January 1, 2021. Persons who sign up will receive email and WhatsApp (optional) daily reminders. They will have access to the plans (FREE), an opportunity for discussion on our social media platforms via Instagram and Facebook, community accountability and opportunity to inspire others with videos and other posts. The secret isn’t the 90 Day plan, the secret is the power of the Word hidden in a submitted heart. Our aim is not to birth a desire for scripture, that’s a spiritual endeavor, we want to strengthen that which is already present and help you get rid of distractions while we are at it. The beautiful thing is that we don’t have to wait until 2021. Our own pursuit of Christ (Truth), can start today. Choose a passage, book or theme you want from the bible, tell someone to keep you accountable and start reading!
I can make no further appeal than to those who are weary, thirsty, and heavy. To those of us who are restless of sinning and finding that you sinned for nothing. Those who experience pursuing the same old vomit, hoping it will taste good this one last time. No judgement here, I know the taste of revisited vomit too. But I don’t want that to be my bread anymore, I trust you don’t either. Click here for the sign-up form to receive plans via email. Despite how things may look, we believe in this generation!
We’ve been on a roll over the past years, it seems we are ‘canceling’ feelings. It’s interesting how they taught us how to tie our laces, brush our teeth, do homework, and yet no one taught us how to maneuver our emotions. Even the bible makes it a priority, it commands us to guard our hearts because it determines the course of our life. (Prov. 4:23 NLT) No matter how hard we try, we can’t outrun them, eventually they catch up. But what’s clear is whether or not feelings are immediately in our consciousness, they dictate our path. Whether that path is to run, to pause or to overcome them. We want to be a part of the ones to overcome them. To do that, we must start at our past.
Our lives are just like the universe, a preacher once said. Before God came and created it, we were without form, void, and darkness prevailed in our lives. Salvation restores our form/ foundation, fills our voids, and lets the light into our hearts. Our foundations before Christ were unstable, destructive. Our houses could have fallen at any time. Now, Christ has become the rock we are building upon. However, when saved, our past remained in our memories, forgiven and forgotten by God, yes, but not by us. The mistakes, the hurts, the pain, our offenders and the ones we offended take permanent residence in our minds, skewing our outlook and damaging our relationship to God and others. How do we get rid of them or even bound them, so they don’t always mess things up?
Christian author, Miroslav Volf, suggested a path to healing from our past, or in his words, memories. In his breakthrough book, “End of Memories”, the journey starts with remembering and not just that but remembering truthfully. Our first steps, a guardian holding us just after birth, the feeling of first touching the ground, the first time we saw a bird, or the sky, or the ocean, our first words, the first knee scrape and the first time we laughed, all important things, all things we have forgotten. It is a fact memories fade, but some especially negative ones, we repress. I don’t blame you; I did the same thing too. Recalling negative experiences are uncomfortable, excruciating even. But avoidance has helped no one in history, not even the thinkers.
I know it’s absurd that I am asking you to do this, but friend, God can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge. It’s true He knows our hearts, but do you know yours? That’s why prayer is so important. It’s an exclusive session with the greatest counselor, comforter, and healer. I remember the first time I did this; it was sometime last year. People close to me often said I was closed off, guarded, cold, emotionless even. As a highly sensitive person, this was the farthest from the truth, I just didn’t know how to handle my emotions or express them. They made uncomfortable, made me feel weak and stupid. So, when they became overwhelming, I disappeared. I didn’t know it was okay to just feel. Apparently, I had bought into the idea that I had to always be okay. I needed to remember, to acknowledge, to name the thing or things.
The interesting part to this is not only will we sit in remembrance to God, but we will speak of it. I did not grow emotionally by myself; I had a community that was patient, loving and sober. Healing whilst more internal than any other process is never done alone. Paul didn’t just arrive after such a horrific past. He had the word, the Holy Spirit and a church family to encourage him. Remembering truthfully might seem easy especially for victims, but one needs to be careful. William James warned,
“The most frequent source of false memory is the accounts we give
to others of our experiences. Such accounts we almost always
make both more simple and more interesting than the truth. We
quote what we should have said or done rather than what we
really said or did; This is one great source of
the fallibility of testimony meant to be quite honest.”
In simple terms, find a prayer room, pour out to God then find a sober confidant, pour out to them fully and honestly. Don’t make yourself look any better or the offender any worst. Afterall, bearing false news is a sin too. Beware of assuming motives and opinions. There will be time for that later. Leave nothing for shame to have power over. You can do it the other way around if you choose too. If you killed someone say it, someone raped you? Say it. They neglected you when you were younger? Tell every detail. Perhaps you struggled with sexual immorality? Confess it. Someone broke your heart? Reveal it. The things I confessed started losing their power the moment they left my lips. Our shame feeds off the things we remain hidden. Let me just add too, it’s okay to feel ashamed too.
I journaled before speaking though; it helped me sort through my emotions to find out what was holding me back from being open and vulnerable. Then, after I sat down to write, I rose to talk to God and people.
Healing is a messy business, but staying broken and wounded is even messier. Your pain won’t just stay in a corner while you continue life, it insists on getting attention. Unhealed pain makes pebbles seem like boulders and streams like raging waters. If you received healing, you change the course of your life for the better. Let’s start with vulnerability. If you feel you can’t talk to anyone, slide into my DM on Instagram. I promise it’s a safe place. Next week we will tackle another part of the journey, condemning those wrong deeds. Remember, you are precious.
I have planned my life. I know exactly the things I want to accomplish. I never realized the implications of this until I started being more consistent in prayer. There was a distance I didn’t feel before. I know the battle of wills is what prayer is about, but this was new, well new requests anyway. Things were getting a little serious in my life. And I know I shared about sometimes the fire doesn’t go out but refines instead- this one needed extinguishing immediately. I literally commanded God on what I wanted to see happen and when the lingering thought appeared, “What if this isn’t what God wants?” I would cry and end the session, God wouldn’t let me down, would He?
It took a few sermons, writers and musicians for me to understand. I was holding on to my dreams. I didn’t want God to take them from me or worst replace with ones I hated. Honestly, I would have been fine if He just answered my prayers the way I wanted, and I did my due diligence in serving Him, something resembling a business contract. But He’s the kind of God who won’t stay in a corner. I wanted rulership of my life. Remind you of anyone else? Yes love, Sister Eve. The Fall reflects the greatest temptation for man, the desire to rule our destinies, to become like gods.
But if one neglects his closet, then all evil comes of it.
There’s another being who wanted to rule his destiny too, Satan. It’s interesting how he used the very things God gave him to put himself up on a pedestal. Are we using the very intellect, abilities, beauty and connections God gave us to set up our little throne? Lest you think I am being dramatic, consider this. I want my life to go the way I want it. First, it’s not my life. Second, it’s already planned. But I want to change that. I want things in this life to serve me, instead of using them to serve God. I have become the object of worship; I am ultimately saying; I am in charge around here and things are going to go my way, no exceptions. Satan ended up getting kicked out of heaven. Imagine my predicament. But before you conclude God is a tyrant and takes ‘small‘ things too seriously, we need to keep His character and the Cross in view.
The little leaven breeding all of this took a while to pop up- the pride of my accomplishments. In the back of my head, I wanted people to say, “Wow, this girl is making progress, look at her family and she’s doing really well in her career.” To put it a little different, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. (Is. 14:14 NLT)” Devilish if you ask me, because when people would see future me, my intention would not be for them to see Christ. I wanted them to see me.
So this is the elephant in my prayer room, perhaps yours too, autonomy or self-governance birthed of pride. Creatures playing dress up god. Prayer is an afterthought because we’re already leading the way. May this be a reminder it is not in man to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23 KJV). We also make little time for it because of its humbling effect. The very act of praying declares our insufficiencies. Prayer brings us to a posture where we see ourselves as below and Him, above. Our prayer life reveals to us our understanding of God, ourselves and decisions. The one that gets first place gets the most attention.
Without a doubt, we can test our hot or coldness based on the temperature of our prayer life. When we pray, if we doubt if He can make us happy; we are too far away from Him. If we think He’s incapable of leading our lives, then we worship a God we know not.
Above all else, whilst I have made prayer about me, essentially it isn’t. It’s about the wisest, most powerful, most loving, most beautiful creator deciding to commune with me. His representation on earth. Though, I may not always walk worthy of this calling, His love and mercy persuades me to come closer for greater transformation. Really, what could be more worthwhile than that?
I am grateful, even if struggling. Prayer is doing what God instituted it for, to reveal my heart and bring it into alignment with His. It is positioning me as a child, relating to her father. So you know what I am going to do the next time I pray? I am going to be a Jacob, except daily I am going to loosen my grip so God can carry me to where He wants to. And even if months from now, I am living in unchanged circumstances, I will stay in His presence, bringing all my grief and wishes. Until I can join A. W. Tozer in proclamation.
“Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already. God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”
― A.W. Tozer
Then I would have understood the cost and privileges of being a part of this great salvation. Remember, you are precious.
Connecting with someone before they get whisked into a meeting is less than ideal when they reveal something you had been blind to. She told me she was once as into ‘it’ as I am. That my expressions were once hers. Sadness played on her smile as she continued. Something pushed her away from it, from Him. It was a guilty pleasure, she said. She spoke with a conviction even I override now and then, “Presumptuous sinning is wrong, God charges you for it more than the ignorant, I can’t be in God’s face like that.” Yet here she was, not as ‘committed’ as I am. The thing is, I felt she was talking about me.
God and I disagree on what pleasures are acceptable, even if I don’t do the things myself. I ask things like, “What’s so wrong about having the last dumpling covered in curried chicken gravy even if I am full, or hitting the snooze button for the fourth time, or a glass of wine now and then, or masturbating, (that’s not technically fornication if it’s just one person), I add, or buying the 3rd outfit with no use for it, or binge watching a series that is ‘clean’ but says nothing about God or stalking celebrity pages that promote nothing I stand for or at worst, is fashionable pornography or watching an all-night funny cat video marathon? Come on! They are just cats!” If my conscience could be silent, I would get away without feeling guilty too. But there is something God wanted to teach me about the human desire.
“St. Thomas says [I-II, Q.34, a.4] that a man is good when his will takes joy in what is good, evil when his will takes joy in what is evil. He is virtuous when he finds happiness in a virtuous life, sinful when he takes pleasure in a sinful life. Hence the things that we love tell us what we are.”
Thomas Merton, Thoughts In Solitude, Pg. 11
I find pleasure in things that have nothing to do with God because they make me happy. I would go further to say, even more than the things that honor Him. But this is something I am far from comfortable with. Authors Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey shares about a pleasure/pain experiment:
“Then, somewhat characteristically, he recruited volunteers among the female students who agreed to let him stimulate the nerves of the clitoris electrically. To his surprise, he found no nerve ending that could be designated a “pleasure nerve.” In fact, the main feature of the erogenous landscape was an abundance of the free nerve endings normally associated with pain.
Weddell concluded that sexual pleasure, too, is more perception than sensation. Sensors of touch, temperature, and pain dutifully record the mechanical aspects of one body coming into con- tact with another. But pleasure involves an interpretation of those reports, a process heavily dependent on subjective factors such as anticipation, fear, memory, guilt, and love. Physiologically, sexual intercourse between two lovers and the ordeal of rape involves the same nerve endings—but one registers as beauty, the other as horror. Pleasure, even more than pain, emerges as a by-product of cooperation among many cells, mediated and interpreted by the higher brain. ”
Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants – Pg. 59-60
So, are they saying something I find pleasurable can turn into pain if I just changed my mind about it? Trust me, I’ve tried, don’t work. Or so I thought. I needed to see the end of my pleasures. Solomon ran ahead and did that. His conclusion was it was all meaningless, like chasing the wind. (Eccl. 2)
Real Pleasure Defined
How does prayer and study become more pleasurable and not painful or just mundane? Romans 12:1 shares the renewal that takes place. But how? Colossians 3:1 states it beautifully, it’s setting my heart/eyes/mind on things above so constant renewal can take place.
How then do I define these heavenward pleasures so I can submit to this process of renewal? The late Ravi Zacharias has defined this using these three biblical points:
Anything that refreshes you without distracting you from your final goal is legitimate. (What is the ultimate goal of your life?)
Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure
Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance will distort reality or destroy appetite
While sinful things feel good even fantastic at the moment, it is short-lived and harmful. Jesus said it best:
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Mark 4:18-19 KJV
Imagine the thing that should cleanse our ways barren and dried up. The results of that are uncontrollable lusts that lead to sin and ultimately death. Perhaps we need to see ‘innocent’ pleasures as leaven.
God of the Happy
Despite what others say or our own thoughts, God is interested in our happiness, in us finding pleasure. It’s the source that has always been the problem.
“Being happy in God and living righteously tastes far better for far longer than sin does. When my hunger and thirst for joy is satisfied by Christ, sin becomes unattractive. I say no to immorality not because I hate pleasure but because I want the enduring pleasure found in Christ.” ― Randy Alcorn, Happiness
I am happiest with Jesus; I smile more; I overthink less, my fears are subdued by His grace, I find meaning for my life, motivation for purpose, I am more productive, and have peace down to the depths of my soul. Anything else and I become overwhelmed, flustered and depressed.
What can we do starting today? Replace mindless scroll time to check up on a friend, or pray for them. Share meals at lunch to avoid overeating, give that money to somebody in need that you would have used to buy the extra outfit. Think about things that make you experience closeness to God. Do more of that. When you are overwhelmed and tempted to waste time on a series that adds no value to your life that you will end up regretting, find another one to watch! Just let it be God glorifying, I highly recommend The Chosen, they even have an app for better quality! And let’s not forget music, use the weapons of melody to redirect your thoughts.
Have extra time on your hands? Give yourself to volunteerism in the ministry and or shelters, hospitals, prisons, etc. It’s amazing how understanding someone else’s struggles reduces the delight in selfish pleasures. If you are tempted, at the moment, say it to a friend or leader, confession is POWERFUL. Ask them to pray for you. If you can change your environment do so. All of life’s war is choosing one thought over the other. Don’t let one sinful thought escape, they have a way of growing into monsters. Fight to the end. Remember, you are precious.
I find the words of this song by Trotter Larry very encouraging during this season. Wounds were not meant to last forever, even though the season may last longer than you have expected it to; there is a season for healing.
On this journey we call life, there is a point where we may have encountered some experiences that we never imagined possible. Experiences that left us wounded deep within the heart. Precious ones, you are not alone; I’m in that boat. With that said, here’s my story about the process of my first time feeling the pain of a heartbreak.
Considering my past, I’ve been exposed to intimate relationships from a tender age. I grew up in a broken and sheltered home. My parents really care for me and they trained me up in the right way as a parent should; But I never experienced expressing my emotions without being judged, so I seek attention from the opposite sex, pouring out my heart to them. I never knew what it was like to be single or how it feels until now. Throughout my journey, I’ve entered relationships and never understood what love is and the purpose of intimate relationships. I entered relationships with the wrong motives. I just needed the pleasure and a sense to feel complete. As a result to my lack of knowledge, and understanding; I was cheated on, abused physically and mostly verbally and I returned the same treatment to some of those individuals, except the cheating aspect (lol). But that never stopped me from pursuing because I believe that I am worthy of being loved and that there is someone out there for me.
After I accepted the Lord Jesus as my savior, I entered a relationship. With this relationship, it was my first time sincerely seeking the Lord as it pertains to marriage. My prayer to the Lord was “Lord if he is not in your will for me, please do not allow me to be in love with someone else’s husband. If he is not in your will, please expel all the feelings I have for him because I don’t want to go contrary to your will and end up doing my will.” After a while, I genuinely find myself loving this individual. The love I experienced being poured out of me to this individual that I never encountered with anyone before. I then found out that this love could not be of myself, because I never knew what love was and I of myself is incapable of loving someone without being conditional, but with this person, this love is unconditionally, I could see all the flaws and all and still be able to love this individual and this love flowed over to me loving and embracing others. It was something I was constantly prayerful about because I wanted to please the Lord in all areas of my life.
He expressed interest, and I did myself. We had plans of getting married and would serve the Lord together. Then it came to the breaking point where I was of no more interest to him. All the plans, all the promises and experiences got me burning with sorrow, left me angry at God for allowing or causing this. Being depressed and confused for months. My heart was broken into fragments for the first time! Broken to the point, where I never wanted to see the light of day anymore. I never wanted to have anything to do with the Lord because I believed he was unfair to me. I returned to seeking pleasures from pornography, that I knew was wrong but I never cared, then the Lord intervened and allowed my stomach to be upset of watching pornography. I then repented, but I was still depressed. I would sleep, expecting not to see another day; preparing myself for death, but the Lord never saw it fit to take me. I was tormented during the nights had to shower late just to fall asleep or watch something that would make me laugh.
My pillows and sheets were my best friend because they held all of my tears. I felt like I was on a thin line of sanity and insanity, wondering what was happening to me. I started seeing myself as a doormat for men, because I felt used and abused emotionally and mentally. I felt like God was using this to repay me of all the evil I did within the past. I felt so far off; I was even excited for the wearing of masks because I never wanted to be questioned, I just wanted to be hidden. I became silent and lost in conversations that I once found interesting. I just wanted to pass on because I never thought there was anything good for me anymore, I wanted to forget about everything and I only saw that possible only if I died. I thought God was just playing with my feelings and he doesn’t care, but here’s what I am learning and being reminded of within this season as I am on the road of recovery, thanking God that I am still alive and well.
Lessons I am learning in this Season.
Never lower your standard for the opposite sex. Be virtuous. Maintain your purity.
God has your best interest at heart. You are more of a value to him than the sparrows.
Guard your heart.
Never trade God for any relationship, always ensure he’s first.
Empower yourself in all areas of your life.
Do not get involved in an intimate relationship if you know within yourself that you are not ready for marriage, that only puts fuel to the fire and you might get burn.
Understand your worth, your value and walk in integrity knowing who you are and to whom you belong.
Be accountable, always. There must be someone you can trust. Community helps.
Not everyone will get married early, late or any at all. Know your purpose and what God calls you for.
Get involved in church, in your community. Find something that suits you. Don’t be lazy.
Don’t get married because you feel lonely.Ensure that your motives are right.
Ensure that you have an understanding of self first and what a Godly marriage requires because marriage is a ministry, it’s not about you but to give God glory.
Be healed first. Don’t start a relationship being broken by your past relationship/s, you will just bring a burden into the marriage. Hurt people, hurt people.
Enjoy yourself, laugh, have fun with sober friends that have your best interest at heart.
You are only made complete in God. He satisfies you.
Singleness makes you unique, separate and whole. It’s not a curse. Take advantage of that season.
If the relationship never works out, maybe it wasn’t God’s will or maybe it’s not the time yet.
Be patient with yourself. Take time to heal and learn from your past mistakes so you can be able to be better than you were moving forward.
Your past doesn’t determine your future. Get up and start anew. It’s never too late to start again.
Forgive. Don’t allow what has happened to you to make you bitter, so you miss the promises of God. What God has in store for you is much better than the things we lost. There is hope, the best is yet to come.
Here are some scriptures I am delighting in, and you can do the same.
Psalms 147:3- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Isaiah 61:3 – “ To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
2Corithians 4:8&9- “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Proverbs 4:3 “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
Hi Gems, I hope you are well. If you would like to ask questions from this writer or any other Precious Thoughts family member, don’t be afraid to send them to email@example.com. What would you like us to share on next? Remember, you are precious.