As you all know, my heart has been transformed over the last month or so by obedience. I’ve been writing posts dedicated to the subject this week, a sort of mini series that’s been, at the very least, incredibly therapeutic and insightful for me. I hope it has been an inspiration to at least one of you. This post is titled An Early Ending because, for whatever reason, the words I intended to use in my conclusion of this series have been pouring through my soul uncontrollably. So, I am writing my VS Obedience series conclusion today, with a few posts that have yet to make it to the site. I may still post those next week. So, without further ado, the early conclusion of VS Obedience:
Apparently God has a message for many of us on slavery to self this week. I’ve seen numerous other blogs, both on and off WordPress, with heartfelt messages on the subject. God does that to me all the time, and over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention. I believe that’s why obedience is hanging heavily on my heart right now. Cuz when you get right down to it, isn’t that exactly what disobedience is? The very byproduct of slavery to self?
My eyes have not been opened to the fact that I have been disobedient to God, not really. I know what I’m doing. I mean, I have totally felt the closeness to God even in the midst of going against his will, so it’s been easy for me to say, eh, it’s fine, God loves me anyway, I’m living in grace, blah, blah, blah. But I know, deep down.
So if I know my actions are against God’s will, why do it? Doesn’t that make me a hypocritical Christian, if even a true Christian at all? I mean, real Christians may make mistakes, but they don’t deliberately disobey God. Do they?
Yes, I am a hypocritical Christian. Yes, I do the things I know I shouldn’t instead of the things I know I should. Yes, I try to do it my way.
And yes, I am a real Christian, loved and forgiven by my Father through the death of his Son.
So, what have my eyes been opened to? What is the point of all this talk about obedience? We know right from wrong, and most of us are at least somewhat aware that negative consequences follow disobedience. I’ve talked a lot about the negative consequences I’ve brought upon myself, and a little about how God’s way is different and better, but what’s the real message here? Why do a series on something so obvious and not eye-opening?
Because what my eyes have been opened to is that I am a hypocrite, a bad Christian, and yet, I am loved. I am a train wreck, with an obsessive need to control everything around me but no ability to control my own deceitful heart. And I am loved. I am a girl who has been freed from my heavy chains, but still carries them with me anyway. And I am loved.
If some of you have been wondering how a girl who drinks alcohol, smokes pot, listens to music that feeds ungodly desires, has sex before marriage, binge eats and abuses exercise can possibly be a Christian, let alone one who claims to lead others to Christ, well you’re not alone. I’ve been wondering that too.
I have lived at times as a strict rule follower, and been completely alone, lost and far from the presence of God. So when I gave my heart to him, I focused on him, the relationship, the overwhelming peace and love that flooded my wounded soul. While I did negate things in my life that I knew were harming me, my focus was never on obedience, not to rules anyway. And because my focus has been on the relationship, not the law, I’ve believed the lie that disobeying the law was not important.
As much as I know many of you will disagree with me, I think I was right about that. My early journey with Christ needed to start with healing, unconditional love and grace. But now, I know better. I know grace is not an excuse for sin. I know that unconditional love does not mean the absence of consequences. And most of all, I now know that disobedience can and will hold me back from experiencing abundant life and a deeper relationship with my God.
As worldly mindsets have creeped into my heart this year, I have stopped experiencing the peace from God. Has he worked in my life? Absolutely! Guided and loved me? Yes!
But I’m ashamed to admit that my pride, my slavery to selfish desires, used those precious gifts. I used the incredible, unconditional love and forgiveness of Christ to justify carrying my chains. I am disgusted with myself.
And I am loved.
Do you know what I see now? I see a God who let me carry my chains, just to make it all the more amazing when I finally let them go. I see a God who didn’t let me get too far with those chains, who stopped me before they could sap me of my strength. I see a God to stopped my whole world just to show me how to remove those chains, one by one.
That’s what this series has been about. The removal of the chains, one by one, that I’ve been dragging with me from my prison of fear. That’s where every sin, every stronghold, every chain has originated from. Fear.
My anxiety is the face of fear, fear of not being loved, not being wanted, not having a purpose.
I listen to music that speaks to the fear inside me. It makes me feel less alone, like I can endure the anger and panic brewing inside. As long as the rest of world is in the same pain, I can be ok. I carry that chain in disbelief that God is my companion, my Father, the lover and healer of my soul.
I use substances to chase away the fear, the thoughts, the voices constantly screaming, You will never be good enough! The more I try to run from the fear, the more afraid I become. The more I try to drown out the voices, the more I believe what they say. I carry the chain in disbelief that I can and deserve to be loved, in disbelief that I am a loved daughter of the living God.
I use sex as a weapon, a tool crafted of fear, to keep the man I’ve become most intimate with from realizing that I am not worthy of his love. I build a bond of lust out of the fear that without it, he will easily replace me with porn or other women, things that men from past relationships have rejected me for, and with which I cannot compete. I create desire to compensate for the fear that without it, he will recognize that I am worthless, that every pretty face, sweet disposition, or sexy body out there is better than me. I carry the chain in disbelief that I am a unique, beautiful woman, created by and for God. That I am not the sum of my broken past, but a warrior of hope for the future.
I binge eat to cover the fear with gratifying pleasure, to mask the voices, to override the guilt. To experience a moment of satisfaction, of comfort when I fear that joy is elusive to someone as broken as myself. When I cannot outrun fear, I simply ignore it with the illusion that food can satisfying the hunger for love and acceptance inside me. I carry the chain in disbelief that my soul is satisfied by the Bread of Life.
With vindictive self-hatred, I punish the girl inside who is so messy, so unable to maintain perfection, who I blame for my worthlessness. I fear the lack of self-control that she exhibits. I purge, starve and sweat with diligent obsession to prove that I am not that disgusting, undisciplined girl, that I am worthy of the love I am so freely given. I carry the chain in disbelief that I need my Savior. With pride, I insist on proving that I can carry the chains.
In fear I strive. In fear I hide behind the heavy chains. I secretly fear that when the last one is removed, even God will see me for who I really am and will turn away in disgust.
Obedience has opened my eyes to the truth. Carrying those chains is not proving anything to God. In fact, it is only keeping me from experiencing more of him. While I hide behind heavy chains in disgust with myself, God is standing over me, prying them from arms open to show, the chains aren’t even really there! He freed me from them long ago, but I imagine their heaviness, dragging their bulky weight in a desperate attempt to cover my shame. Shame that cannot be hidden, only exposed and banished with truth. The truth that I AM WORTHY. I AM LOVED. I AM ACCEPTED. I AM UNIQUELY DESIGNED FOR A PURPOSE THAT NO ONE ELSE IN TIME OR SPACE CAN FULFILL. I am so much more than a slave to myself. At the core of it all, I’m just a girl who wants to know and be known by her Creator. Obedience has shown me, that chains or no chains, sin or no sin, shame or no shame, He sees me as his daughter. Whole, not broken. Beautiful, without comparison. A warrior, not a slave.
The freedom hasn’t stopped at knowing God’s love. In the absence of each chain, the fear itself is diminishing. I feel free. I feel calm, able to focus on the needs of my family. I feel beautiful, and strong. My relationship with Justin is blossoming with restoration. My children are experiencing healing, free to finally be kids. My dreams are waking up, my life becoming vibrant.
I don’t even know if any of this makes sense. As I read through it, it sounds like manic gibberish. But I assure you the freedom I feel, the truth I see is crystal clear. I’m so thankful for the courage to trust God with the consequences of obedience.
In conclusion, my disobedience has caused me the very pain I am trying to hide from. But no more. I look forward to experiencing more of God, more of the destiny he has for me as I continue to live in obedience. It’s hard sometimes, and it takes courage and faith. But I see the truth and the freedom that await those who are willing. I’m not picking up the imaginary chains again. I’m choosing to live in freedom. I hope you will too.
Thanks for reading, hopefully this makes sense! Happy Friday everyone, enjoy your weekend!