Today I am looking forward for you to read Kelly Johnson’s post about Freedom. Kelly and I met for the first time in Austin at a luncheon for The Glorious Table, which we will both be writing for in the coming months. Her words are freeing, encouraging, and full of joy. I hope you enjoy her guest post today!
I posted this rather dramatic status on Facebook last year on Easter:
Easter is a death-to-life story. The Easter story says we have been given the gift of new life and freedom. Life changing, soul stirring, throw the windows wide open freedom. Happy Easter, my friends!
While my Christian friends probably knew what I meant, how would I explain this freedom about which I was exclaiming to a friend who doesn’t necessarily buy the whole Jesus thing? What does the word freedom have to do with a life of faith, if anything?
Because I find the generally accepted, appropriate length for FB statuses to be somewhat limiting, allow me to elaborate. That is, after all, why I have a blog. 🙂
Several years ago, in the midst of a carpool drop off, a friend said to me in passing, “Someday I want you to tell me why you always seem so content.” If I recall correctly, I laughed and said that my kids and husband might disagree with her characterization, but that I would love to have coffee and chat more about it. And I said, “The short answer to your question is my faith. My relationship with God is the source of what I think you are noticing in me.”
That was several years ago now, but that conversation and our follow up discussions popped into my mind when I was thinking about this issue of freedom. Any joy or peace or contentment that my life manifests is the gift of God’s love, grace, mercy and presence in my life. Simply put, although it sounds kind of sappy, God’s love sets me free.
When I am plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s love sets me free FROM:
- comparison and envy
- perfectionism and people pleasing
- competition and the need to be right/ better/ smarter
- a world with no boundaries to keep me safe
- guilt and shame about the past
- worry and fear about the future
- the sense that everything is my responsibility/ fault/ job to fix
- loneliness and isolation
- addiction to self and my narcissistic idiosyncrasies
When I abide in Him, His love, grace and forgiveness set me free TO:
- be brave, be me
- create, imagine, explore, dream, risk, try new things
- be vulnerable and authentic in my relationships
- love and serve others well
- find peace through obedience to the ways of Jesus
- be confident and self assured
- extend grace to myself and others
- forgive myself and others
- make a difference in His Kingdom by sharing my unique gifts
Do I always live in this freedom? No, sometimes I forget that I am God’s beloved child. Sometimes I get distracted. Sometimes I get insecure and petty and confused and scared.
But then I remember.
I remember that I am loved beyond all measure. He delights in me.
I remember that I belong to God and that He will never, ever leave me alone to figure out life by myself. He has my back.
I remember that I have the mind and spirit of Christ within me at all times. If I listen, He makes me wise.
I remember what Jesus said about focusing on the most important thing: love God with all our heart, soul, mind and spirit and love others well. He loves through me.
I remember that I am made in God’s image. Therefore, I am creative, loving, gifted, equipped and sent out by Him. When I temporarily forget and act otherwise, through Jesus, I am forgiven and I can try again. And again. And again.
I remember that God wants to partner with ME in bringing His Kingdom down to earth. I get to be on Team Jesus. I get to change my little corner of the world by being brave and loving big. He believes in me.
Galatians 5:1 (The Message) Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
What sets you free? FROM what? FOR what?
Originally published at www.kellyjohnsongracenotes.com
Kelly Johnson is a counselor, writer, speaker and teacher with a passion for the poor and hurting in our community. She leads a weekly bible study at the Lamb Center, a day shelter for homeless individuals in Fairfax, VA, where she also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors. Kelly is married to her high school sweetheart, Steve and is proud mom of two college-aged daughters, Alexandra and Brooke. A long time blogger, she writes about life, faith, and her newly empty nest at www.kellyjohnsongracenotes.com