When I was little, my mother used to tell me I was so hard headed. Of course, I didn't think so, but you know your parents see you a little differently than we see ourselves. In my eyes I was a little angel, oh well.

The older I got, the more I began to understand what she meant by 'hard headed.' It wasn't that I was a bad kid or bad person, just that it took me a little longer to learn things than others. No, I didn't ride the short bus, nor was I mentally challenged, I just enjoyed doing things my own way. Sometimes doing things my own way was liberating, but most times it was just plain dumb.

Being hard headed got me one really good character trait, I forged my own way, and was never a follower. So, peer pressure only got to me once in life, when I tried to smoke cigarettes, and got caught. My career as a nicotine addict began and ended at age 12 when my uncle forced me to smoke an entire pack of cancer sticks at one time. It truly taught me a lesson because not only did I sleep for 12 hours, but I never touched another cigarette again.

As an adult being hard headed has sometimes meant struggling, struggling when I didn't have to. Spiritually I have struggled because I wanted to read my own interpretation into God's Word, the Bible. So, instead of having my way easy and rewarding, my journey has been difficult, though I still arrived. It's just that I was hard headed, and I learned the hard way and I could have arrived sooner.

Learning the hard way for some has led to incarceration, addictions or even death. I have been fortunate to have just suffered two of the three aforementioned lessons. I was incarcerated because I was speeding in a vehicle with expired license plates. At 6 months pregnant, I was sitting in a jail cell with prostitutes talking about who made the most money the past weekend. Needless to say my incarceration caused me to miss my final exam in my sophomore year in college.

My addiction came in the form of gambling and drinking. The drinking part wasn't as bad as the gambling because I have never been a drinker who would black out from so much of the sauce, but I drank because I had problems. Problems I didn't have answers for.

However, the problem truly came when I combined drinking with gambling. It was nothing for me to lose $500-$800 in a week at the casinos. Many times, as I look back, I realize that I was running from something, running from an inner pain that I didn't know how to address. I knew I shouldn't have done it, but something convinced me to go gamble my money away because I could possibly make more money.

Just so you know, I didn't make more money gambling, but I sure lost a lot. See, I had convinced myself that God had told me to go and gamble. That He put a feeling in my heart that said go gamble. It sounds ridiculous now because I realize that I had made my mind up to gamble and drink, to escape my problems, and God had nothing to do with it. A sure sign that being hard headed was in my DNA. I know this because there was always this little voice that I totally ignored that said, "don't go."

But, I was hard headed and went anyway. I went so much that I was responsible for getting my family evicted from our home.

Talk about being embarrassed. My children had always looked at me as being their rock, their sole support. Now, I had them living in a transient motel, away from their friends, and shunned by their family, all because of their hard headed mother. The look on my son's face is one I'll never forget; even though he stood by me, the pain in his eyes pierced my heart. I didn't stop gambling though, I only stopped spending as much.

The drinking, went away. No longer would I put alcohol in the family grocery budget; it was gone. But, for the life of me, I couldn't stop gambling. My gambling was so bad, that when I would lie down to go to sleep, I could hear the slot machines in my dreams. I was being tormented day and night by my addiction, all because I was being hard headed.

You see, I tried prayer and everything, but it wasn't working. I kept thinking God must really be mad with me. My son is sick, my daughter is rebellious, and I can't control my urge to gamble all my salary away. I was so sad during this time, yet on the outside no one knew it. One of my gifts is being able to hide my feelings. It's not a gift I boast about, because I feel in some way that hiding my feelings is tied into being hard headed which is connected to disobedience.

Being disobedience creates a great divide between us and God. We can not receive God's gifts when we are hard headed. As my mother and grandparents used to say, "a hard head makes a soft butt," I was one of those adults who had to keep hitting my head in order to understand, in order to do what's right. All because I had made up my mind to go my own way, forge my own path.

There is nothing wrong with forging your own path and being a leader, not a follower. But, there is something wrong when your path and God's path are not the same. If you are not walking with Him, you are walking alone. And let me tell you, it is lonely out there when you are sipping on a glass of cognac, and the closest friends you have are one-armed bandits.

My advice to you is when you pray, don't be hard headed. Don't make your mind up and then ask God to bless your decision. That's backwards. Instead, go to God with an open heart, an open mind and let Him fill you with His will. It works so much better this way. Otherwise, you will be like me, living the majority of your life as a hard headed christian and wondering why you are not consistently blessed.

You've just stepped off into Teasas World....check out these scriptures and gain a greater understanding of not being hard headed and not approaching God with a made up mind---Matthew 16:24; Judges 20:1-26


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