Free to Be...
Freedom In Christ
Who am I?
Most of us spend our teenage years trying to work out who we are and what we are going to be. We are influenced to some extent by our parents of course but mostly it is our peer group which moulds us and our life experiences which start us on our path of discovery. Some people are confident and ride life with exuberance and others are shy and worry about what other people think or feel. My brother was the former, I was the latter. Not only that but we looked different too; him olive skinned, tall and handsome, me blond and fair skinned with blue eyes and pretty on the inside! Our lives have continued on divergent paths into adulthood but still, I love him and admire the man he's become.
My teenage years were spent trying to discern where I fitted in but I never did anything because someone else told me to. I chose to try smoking a cigarette aged 13, on my own, to make the decision for myself. I chose to drink alcohol underage...I chose to take non-prescription drugs. Though not confident in my own abilities, I was strong willed (ok I am still rather strong willed and non-compliant with societal expectations) and I had a deep sense of justice. I expected and accepted consequences. Some of which were not pleasant.
Cycle of Grief
The problem with living like this is that you can never meet the self imposed standards of success. One is forever self critical and unsuccessful because the thought process is negative. The cycle of grief leads to self condemnation regardless of other people's opinion; criticism is deserved and praise is dismissed as untrue. The realisation that this way of thinking and being was unsustainable began when I was 18. I struggled with the world; my idealised way of living was not how life really was. I realised 'bad things happened to good people'. My views shifted and I began wondering if, despite being unsuccessful, good things might happen to me? It was my first brush with Grace.
Awareness of God
It sounds cliche to say that it was then I became aware of God, but it was. I had a sense of mystery and a desire to find out what was niggling at me. I went to a few Christian Union meetings at university. It was a strange world of evangelising fervour where people prayed out loud and knew what the bible said word for word. I remember one girl in particular, I've never recalled her name since, however I can honestly say she was the key to the beginnings of my faith. She prayed for me, she met with me and she listened to me. I had been to Sunday School and read bible stories as a child but I had never experienced this level of genuine interest in me. She wanted nothing from me.
Looking back I can see God's hand very firmly at work. He gave me a 'one in a million' boyfriend; someone who shared my socialist views and who was the most affirming man I've ever met. Now my husband, this man has been used by God to be my confidante, my friend and my true love (yes I know it's cheesy!) God placed me in a church with excellent bible teaching and a strong support network. He nurtured me in my faith until I was strong enough to do the real work in myself; to become free in Christ.
-- It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
-- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
-- Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."(John 8:32)
It always amazes me how God's timing is so perfect. He had spent 13 years preparing me for what happened next. Years of serving in the church, building relationships and studying the bible. I knew scripture by heart and I knew the nature of God. I had experienced the love of Christ. It isn't until we face a storm that we know truly how strong our faith is. Does our house stand on firm foundations? Do we trust Jesus enough to walk towards him on the water...or do we sink? Difficult times in our faith are often referred to as 'dark night of the soul' experiences. I can tell you, they can be very dark. So dark that you have to rely on God completely, you have to trust in the scripture you know and in the truth you've experienced in the past. Why does God allow this to happen? A question I only ever asked of Him once. The answer is a beautiful revelation: God loves us too much to leave us as we are. He wants each of His children broken free from their chains.
Each of us has our own set of chains; mine was unworthiness. I was insecure in who I was. I felt insignificant to God. I felt unacceptable in the world. It is an awesome thing to realise you are loved for who you are and not what you do. That you matter to God. That without you people would be sad. Freedom is something we think of as solely given by other people; freedom from persecution, from imprisonment, from addiction or slavery. These things of course are all too frequent in this world, but freedom can also be denied by oneself: an invisible prison of self destruction and unworthiness.
Why and how does Christ set us free?
To become the person God created us to be...by His undeserved love; by His Grace.
He frees us to be used for the glory of the Kingdom.
Exciting isn't it?
Freedom In Christ Course - this is a great way to explore this further.
Emmy Rayment 2015