I so often stay in the prisons I build for myself. The door may be wide open, yet I will stay in my chains. I know where the key is. I know that if I just grasped the key, unlocked myself, and walked out, there is a wonderful life of freedom waiting. But I like my cage. I have grown accustomed to the environment of captivity, believing I deserve it, believing I cannot escape, believing there is no hope, no freedom. And I have been sitting in my shackles, letting the mistakes and failures define me, letting my flesh control me, allowing my mind to fall into the thought patterns that kill the soul.
I went through the cycles. First, I blamed those around me for putting me in the cage; if only I had not been in those abusive relationships, if only I had grown up in a different home, if only my friends would step up, then I could be free. Second, I blamed God; if He hadn’t been so silent this whole time, then maybe I wouldn’t have fallen into the traps I did. If God really cared, He would open doors for me or make my life go smoother. And third, I blamed myself; if I was stronger, better, more intelligent, more put-together, more beautiful, perhaps thinner, or more disciplined then I wouldn’t be stuck in this cage. I put myself here, it’s all my fault, if only I had been better.
I have been reading books, studying scripture (for the most part), and seeking advice. I thought I was doing all I could to “get better” but nothing has seemed to work thus far. My relationship has been nothing but conflict, my friendships have become band aids for my fear of being alone, my family has been placed on the backburner. My mind has not been challenged, I cannot get myself to get out of bed or eat right or exercise. I have felt so trapped by everything and nothing; by myself. I have been watching my life pass me by, fixated on all that is going wrong and convincing myself nothing will go right. I have tried to be rational, practical, talking it out with those I trust. But each conversation only ends with, “Well, Ione, I’m not sure what to tell you.”
If you have been following this blog, you’ll know that my headspace has been all but stable. My last few posts have given a glimpse into the annoying, emotional distractions I have been facing. They are all still very much real, very much stealing my focus.
But then, this morning, I read something. A friend of mine posted on Facebook and her words settled into my heart and brought a lot of different pieces together to fit so perfectly.
“I have nothing to open up about or be vulnerable about.
I am an open book. What you guys see of me on social media is exactly who I actually am. I don’t have any inner struggles, I’m not being tossed and turned by life, I am not putting up a “happy front” in order to hide my “true feelings.”
Because I now know who I am in Christ, I am literally immovable. Jesus, THE solid rock, lives inside of me, therefore no circumstance, person, feeling, or comment can shake me. I know who I am. I know God’s voice. There’s no deceiving me anymore. I didn’t always used to be this way though. A few years ago, I had an intimate relationship with God but still dealt with anxiety. I still got worn out by life and by those around me. Why? Because I didn’t understand that I am a closed case in Christ. I didn’t understand the cross.
When Jesus died on the cross, I DIED with Him. All of my junk, my anxiety, my sickness, my irritability, my shaky foundation ALL DIED with Him. Now the only thing that remains inside of me is HIM, is JESUS CHRIST himself.
I don’t live by feelings anymore. I live by what I know. This is what I know: I am a child of God. I am a champion. I am not defined by what I’ve done or by what I do. I am defined by who God says I am, and He says that I am perfect. I am whole. I am worth the life of His only son. I am full of purpose. I am on this earth to slaughter the enemy and to show God’s children their true value and purpose.
You are not a victim to your feelings…. Stand firm in who God says you are and those lies will HAVE TO FLEE. Do not fall victim to feelings. Your feelings will follow what you believe. You are free. Right now. You are free. Now stop focusing on things that aren’t even true and get out there and live the life God has laid out for you! We have no time to waste” (Brianne Erman)!
That is so powerful. I so often allow myself to be trapped by feelings, by the desires of my flesh. When what are we called to do? We are called to die to our flesh. A concept that just last year was at the forefront of my mind and heart. A concept that God through the most painful of circumstances, pounded into my head. O my soul, why do you so often forget?
“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
I LITERALLY wear this verse on my finger all the time. What does this mean? This means we die to ourselves and live as Christ lived. We love as Christ loved. Whatever I am “feeling”, doing the opposite is probably a lot closer to the goal than giving in to myself.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise. God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Philippians 3:12-16
This prison I have been sitting in? I think it is about time I stepped out. I think it is about time I pushed forward to what is ahead, letting go of my old self, and striving for the life God has called me to live. It’s time I stopped filling my head with truth and actually lived it out. No, it isn’t easy, and it never will be. But it will be full of joy. It will be full of purpose, direction, and satisfaction. I no longer have to be a slave to my turbulent emotions. I no longer have to be a slave to fear; the fear of rejection, the fear of disappointment, and the fear of the pain that comes along with those things. I no longer have to live in insecurity for my identity is firmly rooted in Christ. And I can sit here and type all of these wonderful things out, but what use is it unless I act on it? Will this truth truly transform my way of living? Only time will tell.
“So, flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (2 Timothy 2:22-25)
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith…. That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 1:5/2:2b-3)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching, and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)
I could go on. But what use is reading these verses, memorizing them, but not actually letting them transform the way we live our lives?
Forgive me. Forgive me for so easily wandering from the truth, for not fully accepting the gift of grace and freedom that you sacrificed so much for. I want this life. I want a secure soul, a spirit of humility and meekness, compassion and kindness in my heart. I want to give myself up for You, as You have for me. Lord, remind me of the truth in times where I am drowning in the lies. Let your light shine through the darkness of my life. I want to grab hold of the promises I read and know so much about. I want a transformed life, a transformed heart, free from the captivity of my flesh and the prison it creates. I want to love as You do, live as You did, and accept who You say I am.