By Stephen L France
There are forces out there that would greatly desire that I perceive myself as isolated, segregated, and alone…’spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ [Ephesians 6:12]
The fact is, in February of this year, the greatest physician that ever lived revealed to me just how sick I really am.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28]
This wasn’t a condescending or condemning revelation – far from it. It was the truth in absolute clarity with the promise of healing.
The physician was Christ and the diagnosis of my sickness was founded in my parents’ divorce.
This may seem like an obvious root, but denial goes deeper than an individual simply lying to themselves and those around them.
Denial reached so deep inside my own heart, it convinced me I was healthy and that the wound I carried was something to be proud of.
My ‘healthy story’ was that my parents’ divorce was better than most marriages; after all, they got along better in their divorce than those who opted to remain in unhealthy unions.
What I didn’t realise was the ‘death seed,’ or great deception that had been planted in my subconscious because of my parents’ documented separation.
When my parents made the decision to permanently divide, I made a conscious choice that God the Father was my enemy.
In the following years growing up, anything bad that occurred was attributed to God the Father and I grew to hate Him.
The hatred formed a deep well of anger and sadness in my heart as more unpleasant situations throughout my teenage years and twenties, compounded the original wound.
With this layering effect, I failed to see the hugest of lies embedded as a result of the profound wound of my parents’ divorce, and a single-mother household.
The lie of my entire life was simple:
“Stephen, good things can never happen for you. Never.”
Flash forward to the present day and we have a version of me struggling to get free of this deception.
The lies within pride, self-defence mechanisms, manufactured coping procedures, and protective measures have all been exposed, which is great.
However, I have nothing left with which to handle life, save completely relying on God’s loving grace. This is vastly difficult for an individual who has trusted prideful, egotistical coping mechanisms for so long; creature comforts that have all been revealed as minor or major self-deceptions in dealing with life.
These coping mechanisms and creature comforts are diverse and creative in nature, but all need to be removed if I'm to walk closer with the Holy Spirit:
Coping Mechanism Examples
1) Not being vulnerable to anyone and keeping my barriers up, making sure I remain strong by being cold, emotionless, and unmoved by people around me. The deception meant I never got to experience real relationship with anyone
2) Gaining attention from women and enjoying it to build and maintain my confidence and self-worth. The deception is that I built my significance, self-worth, and security on people who were easily changeable. Perhaps better phrased, I built my house on sand
3) Facebook profile page – having a virtual personality that I could tailor to show my best side physically and mentally. The deception is that my self-worth was dependent on people’s admiration and appreciation through ‘Likes’ and ‘Comments’
Creature Comfort Examples
1) Alcohol – the Friday night deception of a ‘drunken booze high’ that would end in a horrible hangover
2) Night clubs – the lie that lured me to believe I might meet the idyllic wife in a bar despite that the London night scene is now a place for awkward rendezvous and unhealthy relationships
3) Fast food – synthesised food whose manufactured smell and taste comforted me before I realised it’s not real food and has no nutritional value
The great Truth about coping mechanisms and creature comforts is that these are areas where if we choose to fill them with Christ instead, He can keep us sustained in a healthy manner, asking nothing from us.
“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." [John 4:14]
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” [John 6:35]
I have had to ask myself; do I trust Jesus to give me everything that my prideful methods used to?
Do I take Christ as seriously as these words in scripture profess?
Dark Thoughts I’ve experienced
With my personal methods of handling life all revealed as lies, I’ve been finding my way through Christ, but experiencing mental opposition that has been savagely painful.
As I said earlier, the lie that has been planted in me declares that “I can’t have good things.”
It doesn’t stop there.
The thoughts behind this lie are ‘generous’ and offer me two powerful and appetising options; two options that make me sound quite mad, but that look genuinely better than the life I lead.
The two options from this ‘kind’ voice are as follows:
“Stephen, you know it’s impossible for you to have the life you’re seeking. You know you will never meet the woman that you’ve always wanted…but there is a way out. There is a way to end your pain…”
1) Runaway – leave this Christian madness behind you and escape. Be free
2) Die – the pain of 24 years will finally be over. You’ll be free
Now, I must declare that I’m not suicidal. Not by any means!
I’m also aware that this dark thought is more prevalent in people’s minds than the world or church would care to admit.
With the former option, I already tried running away – I was in Caribbean paradise for five years…it was not paradise and that’s putting it mildly.
Nevertheless, the attractive nature of these options is because my brutally wounded mind cannot fathom receiving good things in life. Essentially, my brain cannot absorb that I’ll ever receive real love.
My mind therefore looks to escape methods, but the options it gives me are sinister to say the least…
Regardless, I’m extremely hopeful.
I look to Scripture and I see that when holding to Christ and His Holy Spirit, these extreme times of physical, mental, and spiritual warfare, reveal a huge blessing in the aftermath.
I don’t know what that blessing will be, but after the remarkable EEC Surrender conference that clarified for me that God is the loving Sovereign professed in the Word, I’m now finding His love is filling my heart.
This is not a throwaway comment.
After two years and three months of intense pursuit of the Lord, I’m receiving the love of God!
There is no scientific formula to this – I can track back and tell you everything I’ve done, but it really does come down to surrendering to the Lord’s process.
A final note – the image above has been a tremendous source of strength for me.
It’s not so much the image, but the scene of scripture that this picture is depicting. It’s the Garden of Gethsemane and it’s where the most loving and gracious choice in this world to date was made.
I urge all to get familiar with what this scene means. It always presents this question to me; how could I have ever questioned if the Lord really loves me?
Have you got profound mental battles that you’re facing at the moment?
Are you bringing ‘every thought to the obedience of Christ?’ [2 Corinthians 10:5]
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