“It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]…” -Galatians 5:1
Happy New Year! I’m so excited for this upcoming year. I’m excited because I know, for myself and for many others, that 2019 is the year of FREEDOM! I’m normally not a “new year, new me” kind of person. And the truth is, I’m still not. But I know where my excitement comes from, and much of it preceded January 1, 2019.
“Your power at work in me, I’m broken gracefully, I’m strong when I am weak, I will be free.”
The above lyrics, this song “Gracefully Broken” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard became one of my favorites to listen to as 2018 started winding down, and it was because it melodically captured many of my experiences throughout the year. As I reflect on this past year, it was a year filled with battles that I found difficult to verbalize. Battles that couldn’t be seen outwardly, and if we’re honest, I think for many of us those are the toughest battles we face in life. A friend once told me, “Maya, the only thing stopping you from being great, is you…” I underestimated how true those words were when I first heard them. This past year brought to the surface many of the internal challenges I had tried to bury for years. I had gotten so used to burying them, that I normalized walking with these issues- they became a part of who I was. I normalized my depression, and anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy, and guilt and shame, and the list goes on. I normalized it so much that I didn’t even think it was possible for me to live without these issues inside of me. I had gotten to a point where most days were hopeless, most days I went through the motions of trying to do the work, and trying to be a good friend, and wanting to be free, but I wasn’t. And I knew I wasn’t, but I didn’t know how to break free. I knew that I had freedom through Christ but I knew I wasn’t living in it. I knew I was one of the many people who believed that they could be free but didn’t believe I was [am] free… So I had a little [a lot] bit of help.
“The most powerful thing that took place in 2018 happened on the inside.” -Sarah Jakes Roberts
God was trying so desperately to get my attention, and He allowed me to get to such a place of desperation, and isolation that my only way out of the pit I found myself in was through Him, and Him alone. The pit was painful. I felt lost, confused, lonely, and heartbroken. When I had nowhere, and no one to turn to but Him, something happened but it required complete surrender and participation on my end. I opened myself up to God fully- all of my pain, all of my insecurities, all of my doubt, all of my brokenness, and when I did that, He started to reveal, and remove, and to heal in a way I never thought possible. I was in a pit weighed down in bondage to expectations, and my past, and unhealed wounds. But when I opened myself completely to God, He gave me the strength to start climbing out of the pit. And as I kept climbing, weights started falling off, the load got lighter, the climb got faster, and now I can sit here, writing this in 2019, feeling something, I’ve never felt as a young woman- freedom. Freedom to write this post, and not care who likes it. Freedom to be myself in spaces where I’ve previously felt I had to wear a mask. Freedom to worship God in a new way. God didn’t just lift me up out of the pit, He gave me some new “baggage” to carry with me, so I wouldn’t even have room to pick up the old stuff again.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For my yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:29-30
He’s given me peace, and joy, and hope for the future. And let me be clear- yes, it’s still a process and I have to choose to pick up these new bags each and every day. Yes, there are still days when I find my mind slipping back into a place of doubt, but the beauty in the process is that I’m creating a new normal. It was normal for me to live in doubt and fear. I’m creating (with God) a new normal of being courageous. It was normal for me to feel shame and guilt from my past. I’m creating a new normal to live free of shame and in peace in the present. It was normal for me to be anxious about my future. I’m creating a new normal of living in hope of the future. It’s a strange feeling when you’ve normalized one way of doing things, to walking in a new normal. It is an active process. And despite the pain of this year, despite the brokenness, despite the tears, it was all worth it because God gave me a new normal, one filled with peace, joy, and promise of the future.
“I am grateful for the pit because it was preparation for His promises.”
If I could modify the above lyrics, I would change it to this: “Your power at work in me, I’m broken gracefully, I’m strong when I am weak, I will be AM freeeeeee.” (I added the extra “e’s” so it would flow better with the melody, but you get the point). I am free, you are free, and we have the power and ability to walk forward each and every day in freedom. Free of our past, free from hurt, free from shame, free from insecurity. There is nothing like knowing you are free, believing you are free, and feeling like you are free. It’s as much emotional, as it is spiritual and mental. Often times we can be in a place of freedom, but our minds are still in bondage. The pain of this year was necessary for me to realize just how bound I really was. But it opened the gateway for God to truly begin healing, growing and stretching me into the woman He created me to be. And even in the process, while I’m still growing, I find peace in being able to declare that I am already that woman- That I can simultaneously be in a space of completeness and growth. I didn’t know it was possible [for me] to live without some of these burdens that I have carried with me for most of my life. But as I stand on the outside of the pit, I can say I’ve never felt a freedom like this and I’m determined to make sure that I not only continue to walk in this freedom but to help set others free as well through my testimony.
I said before that I’m not a new year, new me person. And it’s because it’s a new year, but the same me. And I don’t mean that there aren’t changes that I’m making, but that I’m not forsaking the lessons learned from the previous year, I’m not forsaking the new wisdom, and new peace and new freedom, and new courage, and new faith that I gained in this same vessel, because that was the most beautiful part of this past year, that I don’t want to leave in the past but want to carry with me into the new year!
This year is the year of freedom for me, but I’ve also declared it to be a year of courage, creation, and discipline. God has done something amazing on the inside of me this last year, and He has given me an assignment moving forward. I didn’t know it was possible [for me] to live without some of these burdens that I have carried with me for most of my life. But as I stand on the outside of the pit, I can say I’ve never felt a freedom like this and I’m determined to make sure that I not only continue to walk in this freedom, but I’m equally determined to help set others free as well!
God, I thank you that you are the God of healing, of growth, of peace, of joy, of courage and of freedom. God, I thank you that some of the greatest work you do can’t be seen outwardly, but through your grace. You have the ability to make your children whole and complete in you and that is a precious gift that I’m grateful to have and to know personally through the battles you’ve helped me face. I thank you for picking me up, dusting me off, and walking me forward into a new normal. I thank you for the tests and trials of this past year. I thank you that my faith has increased, that my love for you has deepened, and my heart has been made whole again. God, I pray that this year be one where your children can be set free. That they can release the burdens of their past and walk forward into a new normal. I thank you God for the shift that is going to take place in lives of so many in this new year and pray that you give us the courage to do ALL that you have instructed and created us to do, in this life, for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen!