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  • Writer's picturehannahhogan221

Read The Labels

Last week, a listener of the podcast and I were chatting on Instagram and he

mentioned how he doesn’t drink and I related because I don’t really drink anymore

either. He mentioned Sambuca and I remembered the time in my twenties my

roommate and I bought a bottle of Sambuca , heated it in the microwave and sat

up all night drinking it until we realized we weren’t getting intoxicated. We looked

at the label which had instructions not to heat it up or it would evaporate the


I laughed at Hannah last week for not reading instructions or manuals and I’m

pretty much the same way. I guess it’s the “know-it-all” in me. I don’t know what

goes in inside my mind that leads me to believe the woman who has never been

good at making decisions herself would have all the answers.

When I had covid, my doctor gave me a hydrogen peroxide and iodine solution to

breathe in three times a day. I started learning more about hydrogen peroxide and

thought, “hey, if this is good fo my lungs, I bet it’s good for my sinuses” and then I

started inhaling it through a sinus machine I have. I did that for about three days

until my nose started bleeding and I thought, “Man, this was real dumb. Literally

nothing I have come across has said anything about putting iodine in my nose

would be a good idea...” and then I panicked that I had given myself an infection

and had to talk myself off another ledge during my covid journey. I should have

just stuck to the doctor’s instructions. I also hope he never hears this.

It’s just part of my nature to make my own rules and disobey instructions, even

common sense.

And then I will see other people in my life who don’t know what they’re doing in a

particular field or even a ministry and I think, “man, they’re headed for trouble”

and my heart goes out to them because I’m that person too...headed for trouble

but too strong willed to stop and read an instruction manual.

My mother is a big instruction manual kinda gal. She doesn’t do anything without

reading how to do it first. I always got so impatient waiting on her.

Is that why we don’t read instructions? Is it our impatience combined with our own

prideful delusion that we can figure everything out ourselves?

Before I got sick, I went to the grocery store to buy some rice. I picked up a

package and actually took the time to read the label and was floored to see it had

a chemical in it. I put it back on the shelf and bought some other rice that didn’t

have a chemical name in it. How many times in our lives have we bought the wrong

product because we didn’t take the time to read the label? I know it’s happened to

me several times. Why are we in such a rush?

It reminds me of bad relationships. Sometimes we meet someone and their label

says, “Danger. Proceed with Caution”, but we proceed anyway with no seatbelt on

and then we are stunned when we are hurt in the wreckage of the relationship.

I feel this way with my Bible. It gives us an account on how to live a life that can be

blessed and fruitful. It has instructions in it; guidelines to help us live a happier

more blessed life, but when we go against them, our lives can easily be wrecked.

We can set ourselves up for hurt and even oppression.

I once got addicted to seeing psychics, mediums, healers, tarot card readers. I

would jump from one to the other until I finally formed a very unhealthy

relationship with a witch. I was spending so much of my time seeing her and giving

her so much money that she just caused me more pain and suffering than I already

had before I stepped into her door. I think of how if I had just read the Bible I could

have seen how much God warned us against witchcraft, sorcery, and divination. I

wouldn’t have opened the door for her to curse me and my life. I could have put

more money down on my student loan instead.

But we make excuses to get what we want. “Oh, it’s not that bad”, “Everyone else

is doing it”, “times have changed”, “one day he will leave her” and we lose so much

of our time because we just didn’t stop to take the extra few minutes to read the

label and evaluate accordingly.

I also think of my friendships and how in my own relationships, my friends would

warn me against someone, but I didn’t listen to their counsel and then I got hurt or

lost months even years of my life in a toxic relationship. I see some of my friends

even now getting involved with men whom I have warned them against, but they

don’t listen just like I didn’t listen. Eventually, the friendship can get to where it

feels awkward and strained because one person is involved with someone whom

the other one doesn’t approve of or trust. But it isn’t because our friends are

against us. It’s just that they want us to make healthy decisions so we can thrive.

Sometimes it’s because our friends are tired of hearing our horror stories and just

want it to end, but we are so eager to get what we want, we don’t heed warnings.

I’ll end on this wild story. When I was living in Chicago, I met a guy online. His

profile said he was a professional poker player. I overlooked the fact that his label

was basically saying: unemployed/slightly narcissistic and single as I set up a date

anyway. Right away I was annoyed because instead of coming to my side of the

city, the north side, he wanted me to meet him west. I think I had to take two

buses to get to the date and when I arrived, he didn’t pay for my coffee. I was

really turned off by it. In fact, I was so turned off by it and his general selfish

demeanor that we got into an argument and I left early. I couldn’t stand him, but he

followed me out and apologized. He asked for a second chance and we went to

dinner. He made me laugh a few times and I agreed to go out with him again.Then

our final date, he asked if I would like to go with him to play poker in Indiana. I

agreed. As we were leaving my neighborhood, he stopped his car, got out, bowed

up and started yelling at another driver. It was pretty cringey. I think the drive was

two hours. When we got to the casino, he told me I had to sit outside in the foyer

and watch TV while he played. I remember sports was on and I am lost when it

comes to sports. This was completely not what I expected. I asked how long we

would be there and he told me about 8 or 9 hours. He had a tournament. I was

already spiraling pretty badly here with my mental health and was constantly in a

state of anxiety. I was furious and incredibly anxious. He mentioned he wanted to

see if I could “handle his lifestyle as a pro poker player”. I was shaking mad. I felt

so deserted in Indiana hours away from my apartment with no car. I told him there

was no way I was going to do this. He didn’t expect me to not be okay with this

date at all. He said he would figure out a way for me to get home and went to play

poker for about thirty minutes to an hour.

Finally, he came out and told me a guy who owed him money was going to give me a

ride home. I didn’t know this guy or anything about him and really, this could have been

a pretty unsafe situation for me but I was so desperate to get out of this casino foyer I didn’t even think twice about it. In retrospect, I believe this was God working on my behalf. When the

other man showed up he told me right away that he couldn’t stand my date. He

told me he was a horrible person and the only reason he was giving me a ride

home was because he felt he had to help me and that no one should have been

put in this position. I told him my date insisted he owed him money and he laughed

and said that wasn’t true at all. On top of being selfish, a gambling addict, he was

a liar? Wow. What a shocker. I don’t remember his friend’s name but I remember

he told me to never see this guy again....which I didn’t. It makes me laugh how

there were multiple times while seeing this guy, I knew he was a bad idea. I don’t

think I even liked him, but I just kept at it anyway because I was bored.

If I’ve learned anything in writing this it’s that I make terrible decisions when I’m bored

like dating gambling addicts with rage problems, microwaving Sambuca and

putting chemicals in my nose.

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