Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

By Shewanda Riley

I consider myself an experienced warrior in the fight against allergies and a couple of weeks ago, I survived yet another battle.  Like so many others, the range of temperatures caused me to have a few days of a runny nose and uncontrollable sneezing. Having suffered from allergic reactions to pollen, dog and cat hair, ragweed, etc. since I was in elementary school, I knew those symptoms were signs of the seasonal shift to spring. Honestly, I was surprised with my recent battle because a few years ago, I switched to a plant-based diet and the most amazing thing happened:  I went through the shifts from fall, winter and spring seasons without one sinus infection, upper respiratory challenge or the sniffles.     

Having experienced at least one and, in some cases, all of these yearly for the last 40 years, I was ecstatic! Because of my body responding so positively to the “clean” diet, I was even able to stop taking my daily allergy medicine altogether.  Previously, I was able to sense the change in seasons based on how my body responded to things that were in the air.  Even though allergy symptoms frustrated me, I actually came to see them as a good sign.  

For example, allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes are our bodies’ ways of protecting us from the “invaders” as some like to call allergy triggers like dust, pollen, or pet hair.  Even though we don’t see them our bodies’ responses let us know that the allergy triggers are there.  Allergies also are an unhealthy overreaction to things that are a part of our normal lives.  Allergies warn us of the dangers that are out there much like the Spirit of God. 

My past allergy fights remind me of how we sometimes fight against the warnings we receive from the Spirit of God. Many of us have the experience of walking into a place where we instantly didn’t feel comfortable. That funny feeling, regardless of what we saw with our own eyes, was God communicating to us. These awkward moments are often God’s way of protecting us from things, people and places that mean us no good.  

I Corinthians 2:9-11 says, “However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived    what God has prepared for those who love him” but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For whom among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

Spiritual discernment will often let us know the heart of God concerning changes in our lives.   Some of these changes are ones that we spent many nights praying for.   However, some of us overreact to the Spirit of God (and fight the change) or, worse, ignore what we sense but don’t know how to respond to similar to how our bodies respond to allergies.  One of the best lessons we can learn is to trust and willingly submit to the Spirit of God.

Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.