Freedom. A word that I have never thought that much about from a God perspective. In Galations 5:13, it says that we were called to freedom.
"For you were called to freedom, brothers..." (ESV)
As I sat and thought about this verse, I questioned my acceptance of that freedom against the challenges that I personally face.
Knowing and belonging to Christ brings freedom. As a Christian, I am free. Free from the chains that bind, hold me back or keep me from my destiny in Christ. When I accepted the call to follow Christ, His grace gave me this freedom. However, right now, I feel less than free in an area of my life. I feel restricted, controlled and subject to the affects of anxiety.
For far too long, I have let my life be bound by these chains. I do not remember a time in my life where anxiety was not part of it. As far back as I can remember, the nerves, then tension, the anxiousness has surrounded me. It has affected my thoughts, my actions, my being. It has contributed to the overwhelm and fed on the feelings of never being enough. From childhood to adulthood, it follows. Never being too far away and too quickly does it continue to rise up and impact in my life. It appears that after 40+ years, we have a long standing friendship.
At its worst, it affects me physically through lack of sleep, tightness in the chest and tension throughout my body. At minimum, the stomach churns over and over. My mindset waivers between confident to a chaotic mess of thoughts that I have to work through to bring perspective and put anxiety back into its box.
The thought of anxiety not affecting me seems impossible. These chains are firm from many years of togetherness. Just when I think there is a breakthrough, the anxiety rushes back and tightens its grip once more. This week has seen the grip tighten again as anxiety and stress work so well together. Combine this with high expectations and a desire to accept nothing less than excellence, and the perfect place for it to dwell is revealed.
However, Galations reminds me that through Christ, these chains can be broken. He called me to freedom and I accepted His call. Christ has the power to break every chain that restricts me from receiving His plan for my life. I can choose to continue to sit here, bound and held back by these chains or I can opt to move forward into freedom.
Why haven't I realised this sooner? My thought patterns were so stuck in the 'this is life' mode, that I forgot about this freedom that is there for me to claim. I have become so accustomed to living with this, that it just didn't register that there was an option. In the past, I have probably tried in my own strength to break free but am not strong enough so I settle back into what I know.
Over the past couple of months, thoughts for freedom have flitted through my mind. Oh, the things I could do if the anxiety did not hold me back. A vision God gave me years ago could be a reality but right now, how could I ever achieve this? The levels of anxiety experienced now would not enable the confidence to step forward into that vision.
Today, is a new day. Today, I believe in the promise of freedom that following Christ graciously gives. I am determined to break this long standing friendship with anxiety. To be able to ignore it regardless of how loud it roars or how often it rises. However, I am sure that it won't want to let go very easily after so many years together.
This is where the chains are broken. At the foot of the cross, I kneel and hand over the chains to Christ. I will continue to kneel, no matter how long it takes, to release my mind and fill by spirit. When I rise, the chains will not rise with me. Instead they will lie there broken into pieces as rusty ruins that have no hold on me.