Choices Lead Feelings Follow

What snapshots make it into your photo albums? Maybe yours are filled with weddings, births, parties, reunions, and gatherings of all kinds. There are smiling people and places we don’t want to forget, so we capture single, fleeting moments in time and file them away for safekeeping. By recalling the joyful moments, we vicariously recapture the joy.  

Rarely, do we take the time to photograph the unpleasantries of life. We MIGHT photograph a fender bender for the insurance company, but that picture won’t make into our photo albums. Even if we snap a photo of someone causing trouble in public, it goes to the authorities instead of the album. 

Yet, when it comes to being hurt or hurting someone else with our words or actions, those few mental images can stop us in our tracks and command our complete attention. And, why is it that those photos ALWAYS enlarge before slipping themselves into the hefty album we keep in our minds? They significantly mark our souls with indelible ink. Satan likes it that way. He worked hard to intentionally set up the photo shoot and position everyone exactly where he wanted them. He filled the scene with pain and smirked as he signed his name. I REALLY don’t like him!

Even though we try to skip over those pictures in our minds, every now and then something will trigger those unhappy memories. What do we do when that happens? Do we, once again, chew the memories into a mush that infiltrates our hearts and settles in our stomachs? Or … do we choose to look at them only long enough to learn a lesson or two and then move on to happier memories? Yes, we sometimes have to go back to those hard scenes to find healing, but we never need to stay there. I believe we always have a choice. When choices lead, feelings follow.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah right, I’ve heard all this before. You just don’t know what’s in my album!” You’re right. I don’t. And you don’t know all that’s in mine. But hopefully, we both know that the Holy Spirit is stronger than Satan. We know that God’s word is true. We know that if we have the Holy Spirit living in us, then we contain the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-21) As CeCe Winans’ song “No Greater” says, “If God is greater, then let Him be greater! If God is stronger, let Him be stronger! If He’s higher, let Him be higher!” Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our own power! We can choose to let HIM be greater.

How do we go about choosing His power over our own? 

We begin our day with Him – EVERY day. After we worship, read the Word, and pray, we listen. It takes some practice to hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to our hearts and minds. But I promise, if you want to hear it, you will. After a while, you’ll stop thinking of quiet time as a duty, but as a delight. You’ll look forward to your time with Him, and you’ll find comfort, instruction, and peace. Your mind, will, and emotions will find a soft spot to land. It takes time, but I can promise you, it will happen. “You [Lord] make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 ESV) 

If you’re having trouble dismissing the unwanted photos in your mind, don’t be too ashamed or proud to ask for help. You may need help with your healing. Find a pastor, friend, or counselor who will let you talk things out and point you back to God’s words. “You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge. I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word. You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm139:65-68 NLT)

When unpleasant memories come back to haunt you, make the choice to replace them with the thousands of happy memories you have stored away. Flip back through your own real, tangible photos. Give thanks for all the happy times and smiling faces. Be intentional for Jesus’ sake! Know that even in your hardest moments Jesus was there loving you, comforting you, and holding you close. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:38-39 NLT)

(If you skipped over that Scripture, go back and read it as many times as it takes for you to feel it.)

The indelible ink of the hurtful memories that marked your life will eventually begin to fade, but it will never go away completely. God can and will use it for good. The stain remains to mark your victory! It reminds you to share with others the incredible joy and peace available to them from the God who does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Choices lead. Feelings follow. Good or bad. We don’t run on our feelings, but it sure is good to know what we’re running on! Thank you, Holy Spirit!

“I am telling you these things now while I am still with you.But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again.” (John 14:25-28a NLT)


How Can Anxious Be a Good Word?

By Donna Jackson | October 3, 2023 |

Learning a new language can be frustrating and quite time-consuming. I remember going on a mission trip to Guatemala many years ago and trying to communicate with only a few Spanish words in my vocabulary. The mistakes I made brought belly laughs to those who spoke the language fluently. However, it was the dentist on…

Justice for the Bad Guy

By Donna Jackson | August 22, 2023

Sometimes I can’t help myself; I want the bad guy to get what he deserves. I watched an old TV police show a few days ago. The bad guy was a serial killer who had been methodically killing young women. After the authorities zeroed in on him, he was literally trapped between a rock and…

Seeking God’s Fire

By Donna Jackson | August 15, 2023

When God Takes Us Back to School

By Donna Jackson | August 8, 2023

There’s an air of anticipation wrapped around a new school year. Elementary kids grin with excitement over new scissors, glue, markers, and folders stuffed inside new backpacks. Middle schoolers spend time searching out the latest logos on shirts and shoes. High school students look forward to being back with their friends and finding out who…

You Are Not the Only One

By Donna Jackson | July 25, 2023

It’s easy to think our whole world has gone haywire and turned its back on God. On our weakest days, we think there is absolutely nothing we can do about the decline. And then … God, who knows our hearts, drops bits of encouragement in front of us to help us remember that we are…

Shifting Our Perspective

By Donna Jackson | July 18, 2023

Our eleven-month old grandson Chapel, whom I affectionately refer to as Chappy, finally put his hands and knees in motion. The first time we held him, like all babies, he couldn’t do much. He can now successfully crawl from one chair to another and pull himself up. In no time at all, he will be…

Changing Our View of Marriage

By Donna Jackson | July 11, 2023

Most who enter into marriage make the same kind of tenacious promise; leaving will never be an option. Yet, we’ve all been touched by or acquainted with those who finally succumbed to frustrations, temptations, or difficult circumstances and chose to to walk away. They gave in and gave up.  Hopefully, we also know those who…

Nothing Left to Lose

By Donna Jackson | July 4, 2023

Kris Kristofferson co-wrote it. Roger Miller first recorded it. Then versions by Gordon Lightfoot, Charlie Pride, Kenny Rogers, and numerous others were released. But, it was Janis Joplin who made it famous.  Just as the counter-cultural, free-loving, drug-experimenting sixties was giving way to a new decade with troubles of its own, “Me and Bobby McGee”…

No Good Reason to Love

By Donna Jackson | June 27, 2023

“I love you.” It’s such an easy thing to say. We utter the words with a hug as we leave a relative or friend’s house. We whisper them when we snuggle with our children at bedtime. We often hear it said with a smile at church gatherings. We slowly mouth the tender words to soft…

To Hell in a Handbasket?

By Donna Jackson | June 20, 2023

For centuries, Christians have been portrayed as the bad guys.  During Jesus’ day, religious leaders felt like He threatened their status, power, and influence. Jealousy reared high its ugly, and seemingly-triumphant, head until a bloody crown of thorns bowed low on the cross. In A.D. 64, the egomaniac Nero first blamed the burning of Rome…