Two years ago I returned to the Scene of the Crime.
I had taken a drive in my car and decided to have some fun. So I asked God, “Where should I go?” As the thoughts about which direction to go came into my head, I followed them, turning right, then left, then getting on a freeway, trusting I was hearing directions from above. It was fun. Like a treasure hunt.
So there I was, moseying around, heading West until it was time to stop and park. I looked around and quickly became upset. This was NOT treasure! This was THAT place! That place where the worst day of my life began.
I asked God, Why? Why here?
I sat in Starbucks, catty corner from the Scene of the Crime, sipping on a latte, looking out the window, staring that place down. To a passerby, I probably looked like I was daydreaming and relaxed. I was anything but, as Why? Why? Why? ricocheted through my head.
Then I heard it. The answer came in the familiar, quiet voice of a Father God I knew I could trust.
I’m writing a new ending to that story. You are not the criminal.
I just sat there for a while. I knew His voice. I knew it was him, but I really didn’t understand what he meant. Then something occurred to me. What if that same exact story was still replaying in my life? Not just a pattern, but an entire story?
So I decided to look closely at my life, both the past and the present.
And I did it in a moment of divine inspiration and wisdom. You see, I’m really good at not being judgmental with my friends. So I pretended to review my life, as if I was actually listening to my best friend share her life with me. Because of this, I was able to look at my life, maybe for the first time, without one iota of accusation! And as I looked AND listened, it was as if God removed a veil covering my eyes.
Suddenly I saw that every single bad choice of mine was made, because I felt bad about hurting someone else’s feelings or making someone mad. Stamped over all the history of my life was guilt, shame, an overgrown sense of responsibility and then, more guilt. These bad feelings motivated me to make choices that hurt me in deep, personal, life altering ways.
I was sickened.
I saw it all clearly now, how my natural, tenderhearted compassion was perverted into self-destruction and perhaps, even into self-loathing. So much of my life could have been different. If I had only known those bad feelings were lying to me.
But I see it now. It’s so clear. It’s that nasty, pointing finger of accusation, hunting me down, killing my life off, one chunk at a time.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had these bad feelings. Even when God’s voice entered my life, the bad feelings didn’t just go away. What happened instead was a fight. You see, whatever God said to me, even when he was correcting me, it was always kind and encouraging. But the bad feelings contradicted what he said. And I thought the bad feelings were also true. I thought the bad feelings were ME. There was a constant struggle between believing Father God’s voice over the bad feelings.
What God had to say to me was just too good to be true. Therefore, I just had to keep checking in with those bad feelings. I didn’t understand then, until right now, as I write these words, that I was fighting God.
But now, there’s been a change. I’m through fighting. And I’m done being hunted and scattered and caught in the headlights. When I see IT, that foul, pointing finger of accusation, and when I feel those bad feelings, I’m catching IT, instead of IT catching me. Sometimes I find myself laughing, hilariously. Or sometimes I just stare the liar down, until it leaves, because those bad feelings don’t belong to me.
This is all new to me. Most of my life has been motivated by bad feelings. For example, I agreed to go into business with someone, because I felt bad about saying no. Or sometimes I’ve agreed to give money or time or goods, because that was what a good Christian was supposed to do.
I want a life motivated by God’s kindness and God’s love, where I give joyfully, out of true desire, not because I feel bad, feel fear or feel duty bound.
I want the life Jesus died to give me, a life that he calls abundant, a life where I give out of love, a life where my joy is made full.
There will be a learning curve. I will be charting new territory for myself. I will probably get zinged by passing arrows and bullets as those familiar bad feelings come, trying to get me to go back into hiding as they hunt me down.
But I won’t go back into hiding. I’ll keep listening to God’s voice as he directs me, telling me to turn right, or left, or get on the freeway. It will be fun. It will be dangerous. It will be satisfying. It will be treasure hunt with treasure worth finding.
And if I share a bit of my journey along the way, maybe someone else too, will find themselves laughing – hilariously.
May you find your deep gladness,
Do you have a question for me? Send it to me in the Comments section!
Carla Porter writes, sings, designs architectural interiors and loves God, all in Los Angeles, California.
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