A year had passed since my divorce. I had met a man that seemed to be everything I had wanted in a man, except for one little problem. He was expecting a child with another woman. When we started talking, he was open and honest about his predicament, so I felt he was safe. All I wanted was an honest man who treated me with love and respect and so far so good. In the back of my mind, I knew better. A very small voice told me to be careful, but not only did I ignore it, I rationalized everything this man did that were huge red flags right from the beginning. And because he was honest on day one, I assumed he was an honest person. I never questioned anything he told me until he ripped my heart out by walking away.
We live in a world that is constantly telling us to “follow our hearts.” We see it in movies, on television, reality shows, even hear it in the music we listen to. And for years I did just that. If I felt something, I believed that it must be God’s voice speaking to me, so I let my “feelings” be my guide. In January of 2007, I learned something that put me on a new path.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” I learned that our emotions, our feelings, are not always reliable or even accurate, certainly if damaged. Because the heart is our control center, our emotions play a major part in our reactions and decision-making process. This scripture opened my eyes to the lies I had been believing all my life about following my heart. An injured heart is Satan’s playground. When he is able to gain access, he toys with our emotions, whispering lies to our ears. Wow! That is a scary thought, certainly knowing that my heart was severely injured. I had been allowing Satan to play around in my life for way too long.
That one scripture took my life, flipped it upside down, and forced me to reevaluate everything I had ever believed. It was then that God started revealing to me all of the unhealthy relationships I was surrounded by due to my own ignorance of following my own heart instead of listening to God’s. It has taken me years to clear out the lies and replace them with His truth.
The following was my prayer to God on January 12, 2010, exactly three years after discovering this truth.
Today I begin as a new creation. My past has kept me in fear for long enough. On this day, I give it completely to you. The past few days have shaken me to the core, afraid of so many things I have no control over. Thank you God for speaking into me in ways that get my attention. You always know exactly what I need, at the very moment I need it. Three days in a row you woke me up at 5:51am. I searched for the word you had for me a few days ago and couldn’t find anything. Today started out rough. My heart is burdened with so many things. The man I love has a new baby with another woman. The man I loved for 15 years has damaged me so much that I am afraid of getting hurt all over again. My mind has become Satan’s playground for about four days now and today it ends. Satan, you are a liar and a thief. I will no longer allow you to steal my joy and peace. God, thank you for your unending love and patience. You love me like no man ever can and I need you to carry me through my fears and insecurities. So today I opened Bible Gateway and went straight to Psalm 55:1. I couldn’t stop there. The entire chapter spoke to me. It says, “This is my prayer, please hear my cry for help. Please listen and answer me, my troubles overwhelm me. Satan is yelling at me, threatening my very happiness. He brings fear and angrily hunts me down. My heart aches and the fear of hurt takes me over. Fear and trembling overwhelm me and I can’t stop shaking. I need to find rest in you. I must escape this storm.” That is my prayer.
That was my breaking point. It took me three long, painful years for it to finally click. I knew that my heart was deceitful, but I still trusted it way to often. After my divorce, I quickly jumped into a relationship with a man I thought God had put in my life for a reason. I was wrong. Satan had his hands tightly around my heart, just waiting to destroy me. His lies and schemes put me right back in a place I swore I would never return to. And it was all because I was listening to my heart instead of focusing on healing it.
I share this in hopes of helping others. If you have been hurt in the past, instead of running to the next quick fix, turn to your creator. Only He can mend your broken heart and make it whole again.
Be Honest: “I am very angry with you right now.”
Be Kind: No name calling, belittling, devaluing allowed.
Be Direct: Useful anger is face to face, not a cowardly blow from behind.
Be Responsible: We own our anger. No one can “make” us angry.
Be Fair: Cruel jokes (in public and private) are off limits.
Be Contained: We don’t get back at others.
Be Controlled: We invite the Holy Spirit to take control of our anger
Be Interactive: Anger is expressed in relationship where it can be talked through.
Be Outward: No under-cover anger is healthy. Anger turned inward hurts us and others.
Be Real: It is dishonest to use our anger to manipulate others.
Passive Aggressive: Under-cover anger. Anger is presented in subtle ways—forgetfulness, chronic lateness, “accidents.” On the outside you seem pleasant and compliant. On the inside you are resentful. Those who express their anger in this way don’t feel safe or permitted to have anger or express it openly.
Sarcasm: Speech designed to cut and wound. The word “sarcasm” is derived from a Greek word that means “to tear the flesh.” It is another way to express anger indirectly.
Verbal Abuse: Intentionally wounding another with our words. Name calling, belittling, devaluing, and humiliating are examples of verbal abuse.
Blaming: Blaming anger makes other people the problem and deflects personal responsibility. Blaming anger says, “You make me so angry!”
Guerilla Humor: Attacking someone verbally then smiling and saying something like, “Can’t you take a joke?” or “I’m just kidding.” Another indirect way of expressing anger.
Retaliatory Anger: Expressing your anger by getting even with someone who has wounded you–i.e. having an affair to show your spouse what it feels like or spending loads of money shopping because your spouse “owes” you.
Blind Rage: Intense anger usually acted out physically—hitting, smashing, destroying, etc.
Isolation: Withdrawing from relationship with the one who hurt you and/or from others altogether.
Anger as an Excuse: Secretly you want to leave or behave in a particular way, so you find a way to provoke a fight in other to justify your choice.
Throughout my life, I have had numerous conversations with people who have been through painful circumstances and ask how God can be good, yet allow bad things to happen. I always dreaded these discussions because I had no words to explain anything that made logical sense. My knowledge of God being good was based on faith alone and when someone is searching for an answer to that question, faith is not the answer they want to hear. They are searching for solid evidence. Something tangible they can grab hold of and cling to in the wake of a heartbreaking tragedy. I have even experienced that type of tragedy in my life and my faith was what held me together and gave me strength to live on.
As disciples of Christ, we should be able to explain this phenomenon to those searching for reasons to believe that God is good. Yesterday I came across this conversation and it changed everything.
Professor: You are a Christian, aren’t you, son?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: So, you believe in God?
Student: Absolutely, sir.
Professor: Is God good?
Professor: Is God all powerful?
Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill, but God didn’t. How is this God good then? Hmmm?
(Student was silent.)
Professor: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?
Professor: Is Satan good?
Professor: Where does Satan come from?
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything. Correct?
Professor: So who created evil?
(Student did not answer.)
Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: So, who created them?
(Student had no answer.)
Professor: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen God?
Student: No, sir.
Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your God?
Student: No, sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt you God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have you ever had any sensory perception of God for that matter?
Student: No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?
Professor: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem science has.
Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
Student: And is there such a thing as cold?
Student: No, sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further than that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)
Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student: You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?
Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man?
Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
Professor: Flawed? Can you explain how?
Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.
Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)
Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?
(The class was in uproar.)
Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?
(The class broke out into laughter.)
Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)
Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.
Student: That is it sir…Exactly! The link between man and God is faith. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.
Faith is all we need, thus the reason it is so hard to explain why we believe what we believe to non-believers. But my point of sharing this conversation was to share something deeper that I learned. The next time someone asks me how a good God can allow bad things to happen, this is how I will respond.
God created the world and everything in it was good. He created Adam & Eve and they were given free will; the ability to choose. Once the choice was made to have the knowledge that only God had up until that point, sin entered the world and everything changed.
The conversation between the student and the professor uses the example of death being the absence of life, dark being the absence of light, cold being the absence of heat, so therefore, evil would be the absence of good. God is not evil. Because of free will, God lets us choose and that choice opens the door for evil to wreak havoc on the world around us. That is the double edged sword of free will. God is always good, always loving, and always merciful. Because of sin, bad things happen to good people and when that occurs, God always uses it for His glory to shine through.
Think about it this way. A man has cancer. He is a Godly man, praying every day for God to heal him from this disease. God decides to answer this mans prayers and brings him home to be with him in Heaven where there is no more pain and no more sickness. Because of sin, we see things from a worldly prospective and think that God didn’t answer this man’s prayers when from a Heavenly prospective he did.
We will never understand God fully until the day he calls us home where we belong. Heaven is our home and earth is temporary. We were never meant to live separated from God, but the fall of man opened that door and until God returns we will have pain, suffering, and heartache on this side of Heaven. Our faith is the only thing that will keep that hope alive and God in our hearts. It is our choice to believe and to attempt to see from His prospective instead of one that is void of Him.