Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finding Freedom

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Rom. 6:16 NLT

I am a perfectionist. I don’t like making mistakes. I don’t like failing. I don’t like not understanding something for fear of making mistakes and failing. All of those fears and related emotions flared intensely as I returned to teaching this fall. When people asked me how it was going, I commented about the intensity of requirements, the multitude of subjects to master. I discussed everything about the job but nothing about me.

I didn’t want to admit how I felt. I didn’t want to acknowledge how deeply fear gripped me. I wanted to focus on external circumstances, reasons, and issues. I didn’t want to look within.

But that’s exactly what I needed to do. The external circumstances were not going to change. The only thing that could change to improve the situation resided within. Only when I dealt with the emotional chaos in my spirit could I have the mental clarity and physical energy to deal with the external circumstances that surrounded me.

I didn’t want to admit my fears. I didn’t want to confess the lies that I tended to live under…perspectives developed from wounds and situations throughout my entire forty years, as far back as early childhood. I wanted to live as our world expects. I wanted to appear that I could do it all even though inside I knew I couldn’t. I wanted to hide mistakes and fears. I wanted to cover up any inability… all for fear of failure that would lead to rejection.

For that was my real issue. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to be rejected because I wasn’t good enough. But when I finally admitted my truest fears, and acknowledged the lies I allowed to shape my life, I surprisingly didn’t find the condemnation or shame I guess I expected. What I found was freedom… the freedom to change.

I realized that I couldn’t deal with the fears or lies causing the emotional chaos until I acknowledged that they existed. To live in denial, to cover and hide, prevents the opportunity to change. It kept me in bondage, enslaved to the lies, the fears, and the wounds. But when I admitted the issues, I could deal with them. I could release them by giving them to God.

In him there is no condemnation. Only grace. It’s only when I withhold things from God that I must handle them alone. Once I finally acknowledged that I couldn’t handle things, when I brought my fears to God, then I found the help I needed, the resources to overcome.

You might not be a perfectionist like me. But I know your past includes wounds that have shaped how you live. They shape your thinking. They shape how you interact with others and what you think about yourself. Can I encourage you to face those wounds? If you seriously look at your past, intentionally investigate the resulting premises that regulate your thoughts and behaviors, you might be surprised at what you discover. If you take those premises and bring them to God, compare them to the truths of his Word, you will have the opportunity to release any lies. You will find the freedom to change.

For me, facing my fears, I released the lie that my value came from performance. I instead accepted the truth of God’s grace, that He loved me enough to send his own son on my behalf even before I knew him. I could never earn his love. I also released the lie that it was all up to me, and instead accepted God’s promise that his grace and strength were enough for my weaknesses. I stopped relying on myself, and instead stood on the reality of who God truly is.

Looking within might feel awkward at first and it might be painful to face the wounds of your past. But the freedom is worth it. That I guarantee.

No comments:

Post a Comment