Recovery is all about choices. Making the right choices to move away from past hurts and bad habits is necessary to move forward to a place of peace.
But what if my chooser is broken? The mind is where most choices are made. If my mind is compromised, how can I be expected to make the right choices?
When hypomania fills me with confidence and excitement and tells me to quit my job and become a travel blogger or a stand-up comic, that’s all I hear. The feeling is overwhelming, and it’s a really good feeling. I want to believe it because it’s positive and amazing. How do I know the choice is bad when everything in me says it’s good?
Or when everything in my mind is dark and I can’t see anything but death and despair. The only escape I can see is suicide. My entire mind and body are in agreement that all this has to end. How can I find any other options?
I need a second opinion. The good news is, God has given me His Spirit.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
The Holy Spirit lives inside me and is working with my born-again human spirit to lead me in the right direction.
The trick is to hear His voice inside me when I’m only used to listening to my own mind. And that takes practice.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
The reason sheep know their shepherd’s voice is because they hear it every day. When I make time to read God’s Word and pray and listen, I am building a foundation inside myself that I can stand on when I need to know God’s Will.
I practice by asking simple questions like, “Which scriptures do you want me to read right now?” or “How should I pray for this person?” And I wait for the answer in my heart.
I don’t hear an audible voice. And it doesn’t sound much different than my own thoughts. For a long time, I wondered how I was supposed to know if it was me or the Holy Spirit, when they sounded alike. What I learned to do was to check the weight of the words.
It’s hard to describe, but when I compare something I’ve heard from the Holy Spirit to something my own mind has said, the Holy Spirit’s words just feel heavier. I don’t know if this is true for others, but it’s something I’ve learned I can rely on.
Sometimes, when I really need to know the right answer, I’ll intentionally think the opposite of the answer I believe I’ve gotten. And I’ll do it over and over until I can tell a difference between them.
Of course, anything I believe God is telling me to do will line up with His Word. But there are plenty of cases where both choices are “good” choices; I just need to know His specific will for me.
Another way I hear from God is through asking others I trust.
For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.
There are many times when I can’t think of any answer, and I need counsel from other people to come up with options. But even then, those new options need to bear witness with my spirit before I really believe it’s God’s Will.
But what if I doubt that I can even hear from God at all. When my mind is spinning too fast to pin down, I sometimes despair of hearing anything clearly.
That’s when I go back to John 10 and trust that God’s Word is true.
“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—”
That’s three places where Jesus says that His sheep know His voice. And in verse 5, He specifically says that they won’t recognize a stranger’s voice.
Do I believe God’s Word is true? Then I have to believe that since I’m one of His sheep and He’s my shepherd, I will hear and know His voice. And I will know the difference between His voice and the voice of the thief.
Whether the thoughts in my head are from the father of lies or are the result of mutated genes and botched chemistry, the truth is the same. I will be able to tell the difference between them and the Holy Spirit, because Jesus said I would.
I have to do my part and maintain my relationship and conversation with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But when I do, I can trust that I will hear His voice clearly when I can’t trust myself.
How has the Holy Spirit helped you know the right choice to make?
Image credit: geralt