Desire without Knowledge

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” -Proverbs 19:2

Have you ever made an impulsive relationship decision? I have. Many, many times and over again. Usually it is in response to my obsessive thinking.

Obsessive thinking begins with a desire. The desire could be seeking a cure for loneliness, pleasing someone, it might be to solve a problem… something to make your life better than it currently is. Desires are natural. We are wired to satiate our needs and that’s not bad. It’s how we seek to satisfy those needs that can get us into trouble.

For example, in college, there was a guy I was friends with. He was a great guy but I had never liked him in a romantic fashion. He, on the other hand, liked me a lot and was waiting for me to come around. I knew this even though he hadn’t communicated it to me. Guys can be so annoyingly obvious (when you don’t want them to be).

One night, I was in my apartment and felt this strong need to connect on an intimate level with a guy. I wanted to be associated with someone. I didn’t want to be single anymore. I wanted to have “that someone” I could talk to. I felt so warm and sure about this feeling. It was definitely time to make that happen. Well, who do you think popped in my mind to fill that longing? My friend who liked me, of course!

I lovingly texted him that night (because who talks about serious things on the phone anymore?) and confessed to him that I really did like him as more than a friend. He was very excited about this news and felt that his waiting was finally paying off. We set a time to go on a real, official date. I went to bed that night feeling satisfied. The obsessive thoughts and the feeling of being incomplete now over.

Guess how I woke up? Terrified.

The romance of a lonely night being over, the reality set in of what I’d done. I’d told a guy that really liked me that I liked him back… when on reflection, I realized I didn’t like him like that at all. I felt better in the morning. Not so alone. But now I had a serious problem. I had let a guy on that I cared about. He was thrilled thinking that we were off to a romantic journey that would end with us getting married and having a lovely family (is this true? I didn’t know because he had never said that, but it was what I assumed he was thinking – another bad trait of living in a fantasy world and not reality).

This is how it ended with this guy and how most of my relationships played out: I tried to stick with the relationship and hope that my feelings would grow for the person I had roped myself into dating. It never worked and usually within two weeks, I was breaking up with the guy, he was confused, and our friendship was over. He was hurt… and so was I.

“Desire without knowledge is not good.” In Proverbs, Solomon teaches that knowledge, wisdom, discernment all come from God. If you are not including God in your decision making, you’ve only got half the brains… maybe less. The second part of that psalm states, “Whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”

I lost my way repeatedly because I was reacting to my desires and leaving knowledge (reality and God’s will) out of it. Losing my way caused the guys I dated to feel lost, as well. We ended up with hurt and confusion.

If you struggle with love addiction, it’s important to let the fit pass before making a decision. Wait at least a week before making big decisions, especially when it involves another person.

It’s easy to believe that only a significant other can satisfy your desires. If that were true, God would not be as awesome as He says He is. The great thing about God is that He always does the unexpected. You think you know how He is going to answer a prayer and then He does something you could have never dreamed and it’s way better than you could have imagined.

When you feel lonely, tell God and ask Him to remove the feeling of loneliness and replace it with His love, contentment, and companionship. Ask Him to heal your feeling of loneliness in the way He deems best. Let Him know that you look forward to seeing how He does it. If there is a person you have in mind that you would like to fulfill that need, let God know but be open to His way of doing things.

Through my recovery, I am now beginning to see the patterns of my emotions and thoughts. By slowing down and making myself wait to act on my desires, it’s helping me gain discernment on areas of my life that are unhealthy. I’m learning to go to God and surrender my desires and seek His will on an issue. This is so much better than falling prey to my desires which have no foundation, minus my fantasies.

Bottom line: wait on God. His will is best and He knows better than you do what you need to fulfill the desires He has given you.

Exercise: If you struggle with impulsively acting on your desires, pause. When you’re obsessively thinking, stop and write out your desire in detail. Surrender it to God. Ask Him to satisfy your desire in the way He deems best. Thank Him for what He’s going to do. Then, wait. Don’t make a decision for a week. Surrender your desire to God as many times as you need. Remember, you’re in no hurry. Allow time for prayer, reflection, and hindsight. Embrace your desires (meaning, it’s okay to feel lonely for a little bit. You’re not going to die.). Wait on God and He will answer.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Eating at Thanksgiving

For someone working towards being an intuitive eater, special events can really throw us off. Normally, you may not have a bunch of candy lying around just waiting to be subconsciously eaten, but during Halloween, it’s everywhere… and someone needs to finish it. Birthdays, well normally you wouldn’t have cake and ice cream around, but it’s there and you don’t want other people to feel uncomfortable about you not eating it. And here we are with Thanksgiving.

Such a glorious time of year with changing leaves (in some parts of our country), cooler weather, nostalgia from our younger days, family, friends, and… food. FOOD. That’s what it’s all about, right? The food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else you please topped with homemade gravy. Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, broccoli and rice, cranberry sauce, rolls, cookies, cake, PIE! And the social trend of bragging on the fatigue of overeating due to the volume of holiday foods begging to be placed on your plate.

How does a subconscious, chaotic eater resist?

Let’s take the focus off of the food and the people pleasing. What’s left of the Thanksgiving holiday? Think for a moment about where you’re going for Thanksgiving. And this is not meant to make people depressed. Don’t overthink it. I know there are plenty of family problems we could focus on right now or the dread of being somewhere full of triggers for some codependency episodes, but think of generalities right now. Think about the name, “Thanksgiving.” What does it mean to you?

Think about the attitude of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans at the time they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. What was it like? Why were they thankful? So much so that they came back the next year and the next to remember?

Why else would one go to Thanksgiving? Who will be there? Is there someone you’re looking forward to seeing? Is there something you can contribute that would take the focus away from merely sitting down and overeating? Maybe you could designate yourself as the family photographer, the dish cleaner (everyone would love you), or a leader in getting some games started. Switch it up this year. Instead of going with the thought of what you will receive, think about what you could give.

I know holidays are not easy. It is often big, overwhelming crowds, people you haven’t seen in forever, football (zzz), and food. Food at a holiday can be a nice little friend to keep your mind distracted from the social anxiety that is sure to creep up in a setting such as this. However, I believe this year is well worth the try of something new. Think about the feeling you will have of not being sick over your meal and of being a giver. How many people can you bless at Thanksgiving that maybe really need it?

Be prayerful about this Thanksgiving. Ask God if there’s anything He would like you to contribute, along with the food you’ll be bringing. Stay in connection with God throughout Thanksgiving Day and ask Him where the needs are. When you’re gathering food at the designated, official meal time of the day, get everything you want, but just a little bit of it. I guarantee doing that will still give you more than you can handle! Enjoy the food and listen to your body. Do I like the way this tastes? What is it about the texture that I like? Do I not like this? Then, after you’ve eaten half, ask yourself, Can I taste this anymore? Or am I just eating to eat? Stay in the present. Trust your body and stop when you’re satisfied.

Then, go engage with some family members. My family likes to go on Thanksgiving walks. 😀 And Pray!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Obsessive Thinking… And How to Turn It Off

As a codependent love addict in recovery, my two biggest challenges are obsessive thinking and anxiety. Those two usually come strolling into the forefront, middle, and back of my brain and increasingly remain there until I feel insane.

Here’s today’s insanity:

A former boyfriend of mine was mentioned in conversation which led to me thinking about said former boyfriend.

Thoughts went to I wonder what he’s doing, what it would be like if he was here, how would my life be different, why did it go wrong again? Which led to, I’d love to see him, what would happen if I contacted him? Should I contact him? Which led to extreme fear of intimacy and backing away quickly from thoughts like commitment, vulnerability, revealing feelings… Which led me back to, I wonder what he’s doing, what would it be like if he was here, how would my life be different, why did it go wrong again? Which led to… on and on and on. The wheel turns and leads me to the same conclusions of contacting him or running for the hills.

Insanity.

There are varying reasons why thoughts of former relationships or people we want to be in a relationship with pop into our head. We could be triggered by a feeling, a situation, a song, a mere mention of a name… It can really be anything. Heck, we might just be lonely one day or needing to fill some space in our brain with a little fun fantasizing sesh.

The fact is obsessive thinking is miserable. You find yourself unable to reach any solid conclusions because it’s all in your head. It’s a hypothetical being turned over and over until it has been exhausted and there’s nothing left to analyze… so you go back to the beginning and start all over. This can bring with it feelings of anxiety, loneliness, martyrdom, victimization, nausea, impatience, and confusion (to name a small number of symptoms).

In recovery, it’s so important to work through these moments of temptation to obsessively think. The thoughts I had today would have, in the past, plagued me until finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I would act. I’ve contacted many a guy out of emotion due to obsessive thinking. And it was wrong of me. It misled some great guys into thinking I was actually in it “for real this time.” And I wanted to be, but I was not capable and I was not in God. I was acting out of selfishness. I wanted to feel better in the moment and get out of my obsessive thinking misery. At the time, it felt like if I could just hear their voice again or hold their hand I would finally be at peace in my mind. I would get my fix for a time, but it wouldn’t take long for my fear of intimacy to creep in and get me obsessively thinking about what was wrong in the relationship, which would lead to a sabotage. It also left good guys alone, confused, and hurt.

If you are a love addict and facing the misery of obsessive thinking, here are some tips that help me get back into reality and into God. It’s important to know that doing these exercises once will not be a cure all. You may need to do them over and over again at the start. That’s okay. You’ll be connecting with God and that’s never a bad thing.

Step One: Pause.

When a gross feeling or confusing thought pops up, it’s natural to shove it back down and say, Nope! Not dealing with that today! So, when you realize you’re turning a thought over and over and getting anxious about it, pause, and embrace it. Don’t suppress it. Uneasy feelings can be great warning signs of an issue that needs to be resolved.

Step Two: Write or talk it out.

If you don’t have time to do either, thank God for using these thoughts or feelings to bring up an issue. Ask Him to remove the feelings/thoughts for the time being and give you time later to work through whatever it is. Ask God for peace in the meantime.

When you do have some time, write or talk out in detail what’s going on in your mind. Ask God to show you why you’re feeling or thinking what you are in His timing. After that, ask Him to remove the feelings and thoughts your having and replace them with His attributes (usually it’s the opposite of what you’re feeling/thinking, ex. replace anxiety and confusion with His peace and clarity). Ask God for forgiveness if needed and then thank Him for the work He is going to do in you.

Step Three: Change the Subject.

After you’ve presented everything to God, do something else. Go on a walk, do some dishes, call someone who may have more needs than you to give you perspective, or whatever it is that you like best. You may be at work and can get back to a project you’re working on. Whatever it may be, just do something.

Step Four: Repeat.

Doing this exercise once may not kick every obsessive thinking spell right away. That’s okay. Recovery is a process and the fact that you are recognizing you’re obsessively thinking is a huge step. You’re going to be okay and this miserable, obsessive thinking will show up less and less as you do the work with God to surrender your life to Him daily.

Sunday… for the disenchanted

The past couple of years have been a flood of recovery for me in every area of my life. I guess you could say I was pretty dysfunctional. A quick snippet from my past self is that I was a girls’ student ministries director for a youth group at a church. During my four year stay, I developed what is commonly known among church leaders as burn out.

Did I blame the church for my spiritual death? Yes. Do I blame them now? No. In fact, I’ve come to love them again. Through God’s power and love, He has given me the release from a negative spirit I thought would never go away. I am so thankful for that and grateful for a fresh outlook on my past experiences with ministry.

However, due to my valley of burn out, there have been repercussions that I am slowly receiving healing for each in their own time. The first? Rejection of my faith. There was only a brief moment in my spiritual burn out that I toyed with the idea of leaving God behind and walking away from my faith. As I thought it through, I quickly knew that I could never leave God because He had never and would never leave me.

The second repercussion was, okay, now that I know that I know that I can never reject God, what do I do about Sunday? Singing means nothing to me (I used to love that part of worship and slowly the music and words had been lost). Preaching came through my ears as a fuzzy muffle of indistinguishable words and incomplete thoughts. I found excuses to be elsewhere during “big church.”

Every place I went in the church felt draining. I was exhausted and wanted to go home. What was it all for? Did these people really love God? Why are we doing all of this? For numbers? A cold distaste grew in my heart and mind blinding me to any blessing or genuineness that might have existed. All I saw was programming, marketing, and manipulation.

I left my job at the church and jumped into a ministry at another church, hoping to find the spirit of God alive elsewhere. All I found was that I brought my empty, jaded self to the next ministry.

I sought help, but no one really knew what to do with me. A couple of people had gone through the same type of burn out, but all they could say was that they were in a good place now but it took years. I still don’t understand how there can be such great numbers of burn out and no popular resources or strategies for how to walk alongside someone experiencing such a frightening segment of life.

Now, I know that what I’m about to share may not seem monumental to a seminarian or church leader, but let me tell you that I am both, and this helped me substantially. Maybe it will help you if you are struggling with burn out.

In the first century church, Christians got together on Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything they did in the service was to express joy for that miraculous, soul-saving event. In fact, communion was the main part of their service, not a sermon. They sang, read scripture, and ate together as an act of gratitude.

This is the perspective I chose to walk into church with this Sunday and it warmed my heart. You may be wondering if you will every enjoy a Sunday service again and I’m not saying this thought will bring you full recovery, but it has helped me. When I drive to church on Sunday, it’s not with a to-do list in mind, it’s the intent of standing in the midst of a group of Christians and celebrating the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and, in so doing, saved me from a life absent of God’s presence. Thinking this way made everything seem new. Announcements, events, songs, the sermon, all of it meant more when I thought of the greater fact that we were all sitting there celebrating a 2,000 year old practice of meditating on the power of Jesus’ resurrection.

I hope this truth can be even a small light in your valley if you are, indeed, walking through spiritual burn out. He is risen!