As promised, these are my steps to freedom that I would like to share today.
My last few blog posts have been about my struggles with words which started many years ago. In fact, it started so long ago that I had forgotten how or why or when it began. So I did what I’ve learnt to do when I don’t have the answers: I went to God.
I knew it wasn’t going to be just one conversation, rather many – all addressing the root of my anger, of my hurtful words and my outbursts. So I set aside a whole week of prayer and journalling to spend with God dealing with this character issue.
Day One: God, I journaled, what is the root of my hurtful words? Where did this begin?
I sat in my bed, waiting expectantly in the early morning, for that’s when the house is quiet and motionless. The sun was still hidden from sight although the first edges of the light were slowly beginning to creep up on the horizon.
God speaks when we listen. But it takes time to learn to hear him. Sometimes he’s silent. Sometimes we are too loud. Sometimes there’s a reason he’s not answering – usually because we already know the answer but we don’t want to listen.
However today, my heart was quiet and I was desperate.
And I saw a picture in my mind. It was a memory from when I was a girl. I remember something really bad happening and someone that I respected very much yelling and swearing in anger about it. As a result of that outburst, people paid attention, that person was heard and the problem was dealt with.
A simple memory. One long forgotten. However a lie was planted in my heart that day: Strong and hurtful words are powerful and they can accomplish good.
That was the lie where it all started. Where I let my voice shout and scream hurtful, strong words to gain a false sense of control because I felt that in the end it would accomplish good.
Recognizing the lie is always step one. I quickly scribbled the memory down in my journal, along with a lie I believed. I renounced the lie, and repented before God that I had believed it.
Then I asked God: Can you give me a foundational truth to replace this lie?
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
Ah, Yes! Of course! Evil cannot bear good fruit. Evil and darkness do not birth goodness and light. The only way to overcome evil and injustice is with GOOD. This is why revenge will never set the bitter soul free, only forgiveness can do that. I memorized this truth, etching it into my memory like initials carved into concrete.
Day Two: God, how can I change my habits? They are ingrained into my life so deeply. How can I become someone who speaks life?
God: Repent! Choose a day to turn from your sins. Make a list of those who you’ve heard in this way and apologize to them. You will never be perfect, but if you say sorry to each person and start fresh from this day forward, then you won’t have a heap of history to carry on your shoulders. You can look back and say on this day you repented. From then on, all you have to do is apologize each time you say something hurtful or burst out in anger.
I’m too exhausted to ask God for names this day. The thought of the list He might give me is overwhelming. So I pray for strength.
Day Three: OK God. Who do I need to apologize to you?
He gives me a list. It is not exhausting. In fact, it involves mostly family members. I thought it looked too short so I mentioned some other names of people that I’ve had conflict with. God gently tells me that the actions of others I need not taken responsibility for, only the mistakes I have made.
That same day I ask my husband and children for forgiveness, and they are incredible. They forgive me without hesitation.
Day Four: My heart feels lighter God! There’s no more secrets, no more shame. Help me to have the strength to confess to the remaining people.
God: Good. It’s time that you see yourself as loveable again.
These tender and applicable words cause me to melt. I feel lovable. That’s exactly how I feel.
Day Five through Seven- More confessions. The last of them. So much grace shown to me by so many people. God, I feel at peace. Thank you for giving me the strength needed to go through with this.
God: I love watching the captives go free. You are free daughter.
Me: God what now? I am free, how do I keep from getting tangled up in sin again?
God: Dear Child, continue walking beside me. Soak in the truth. Repent when you fall and run back to me, not wasting a second with hiding in shame. Walk with a tender heart beside me and I will lead you into victory. Turn your eyes to the cross and I will purify your mouth.
The steps aren’t set in stone. The conversations will look different for each person. But this is my journey to freedom. This is God completing his work in me.
-It isn’t difficult, yet it’s humbling.
-It isn’t hard, because he’s done the work, but it does take time.
-It doesn’t take a strong person, it only takes a desperate one.
This is what Freedom looks like.