Have you ever been to a circus? My favorite part of the circus are the elephants. They are huge and powerful animals, and posses the most gentle spirit. I can remember noticing when I was a kid that these enormous creatures were kept in line by a small chain around one of their legs. And this chain was connected to a small peg in the ground. I can remember wondering why these huge animals didn’t just jerk their mighty legs and break free?
Now that I’ve attended my fair share of circuses, I’ve discovered that when a baby elephant arrives and becomes a part of the circus, they are chained to that same peg- using the same chain. They are taught from a young age that when they feel the chain, they are powerless. They have learned that when they notice the tug of the chain on their foot that they are not to move. They have learned that they do not exist to demonstrate their power, but instead are conditioned to perform.
Could the same be said of us? Have we been tricked into believing that we have only been given this life to please, perform and be noticed by others? Could it be that, although we are free, we are not walking in the power and authority of our freedom?
Our lives can be divided into two time categories. There is before Christ when self, sin and shame were allowed to keep us down, and then after Christ, when we are free to be made more and more like Him.
The banner of freedom flies over the later portion of our life. The movement that characterizes this stage of life is growth. We grow into who God created us to be. We grow into Christ-likeness. And, we grow into an empowered Daughter of God- free from the chains of self, sin, shame and the slave mentality.
Slavery and sin has ended, in your new freedom- we are free to serve a different Master.
- Romans 6:17
Make no mistake this is a big, and often painful shift to make. The chains that bind us and the voices that have laid claim to us do not depart easily. And even when they do, we may be so conditioned to the confinement we once knew that we’ll hardly move forward- regardless of the fact that we are free. That’s the kind of shift that took the Israelites forty years in the desert to step into. May that not be required of us!
As women, many of us are liberated, but we are not empowered.
Some of us have received a counterfeit power of force and fighting, and I do not believe that leads us to the wide-open spaces of equality. That stance only wraps us tighter in the chains of “me” and a spirit that does not see and love other people. The type of empowerment I’m talking about comes only from the all-seeing and all-mighty hand of God.
Moving forward into this type of empowered Spirit-filled living will require our hearts and minds to be transformed. Here are a few comparisons that highlight the shift our hearts and thoughts will make as God moves us forward in freedom.
“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.” ~Galatians 5:1
Which comparison from the chart above stands out to you today? Talk to God about that and ask Him to help you to grow in this area of freedom.
Removing the Obstacles: What Holds Women Back from Living in Freedom
“ Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” - Isaiah 57:14
Obstacle #1: Defensive Living
Satan persists where a stronghold exists. He supplies an endless list of rationalizations for the things we do and refuse to do. We all have our “reasons” and we live defensively because of it. We hide, deflect and hold onto unforgiveness rather than enduring the uncomfortable and humbling work of healing.
Defense mechanisms are a poor substitute for wild and free living and they are completely of our own making. When we live defensively, we are easily offended and we live bound up by our own fears and self-imposed limitations rather than walking freely in God’s purposes for our lives.
If we want to live freely and lightly, we are going to have to learn to stop picking up offenses and begin to dismantle our dysfunctional defense mechanisms.
I have found that if I get my mind right about a certain situation, I usually respond right. Every time feel myself getting wrapped up in an offense and poised to react defensively I say the following quote out loud.
“My life is too short and my calling too big to live offended.” - Craig Groschel
This little piece of perspective helps me disengage from my flesh and shift into a higher way of thinking and acting. I call it a freedom shift. It’s one of a thousand tiny moments in your day when you get to choose to walk in freedom rather than be held back and kept small.
Obstacle #2: Insecurity & the Expectations of Others
Let’s be real… we all just want to be known and be loved.
If we want to taste the freedom that Christ came to give us, we must have enough solid places within us that tell us who we are.
Christ died for you because of who you are and the purpose that only you could fulfill in God’s plan. He knows your value, and you need to get to know your value too. Satan knows who you are. Recall the power and size of the elephant- kept small by one tiny chain? All of hell laughs as we submit to the bondage of things that we have the power in Christ to rise above. You have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead within you, and it’s time, by the power of the Holy Spirit to break free from the chains that are holding you back. This is a fight! It’s a fight for me and it will be a fight for you, but we’ve got the Divine power within us to find victory.
Can we surrender the fight and let go so that God can move us beyond what is hindering us?
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:17
We must pick the voices that matter in our lives, and be prepared to let the other ones down.
We can’t serve two masters. We will either work to serve and please man, or to please and glorify God. In our hearts we desire to choose God, and every time we courageously make a freedom shift, our hearts will soar and our thirst for belonging will be quenched by the cold, everlasting springs of living water.
You’re a Daughter of God Most High. You are a Princess Warrior. You are free, bought with the precious blood of Jesus. You are God’s chosen, His precious treasure. Don’t allow doubt and insecurity to diffuse the power and call on your life.
Obstacle #3: The Quest for Control
Our desire to control is a cord in the yoke of slavery.
Freedom can only be found in trusting God’s plan, trusting the path He places us on, and in trusting His ways. But we’ve been tricked into believing that we have a better idea than God about what our lives should look like. We’ve turned Christianity into something that’s all about getting something from God instead of being transformed by God, and it holds us back in so many areas. The greatest freedom shift that we can make is to pray for trust- not clarity, not a roadmap, not comfort or convenience, but fire-forged and tested trust.
“Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. 6 Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 VOICE
Obstacle #4: Fear
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
I think we all ache to be free from fear. Fear paralyzes us and undoes us, but we, as Christians, have a great hope in our battle against fear. We have God Almighty on our side, and the Bible teaches us that He is not only greater than anything that comes against us (1 John 4:4), but that He is a powerful and valiant warrior that actually fights on our behalf.
“He who dwells in the center of your being is a powerful, valiant Warrior, He has come to set you free, to keep you safe and to bring your victory. He is cheered and He beams with exceeding joy and takes pleasure in your presence. He has engraved a place for Himself in you, and there He quietly rests in His love and affection for you.
Fear and love cannot occupy the same space, and neither can deep-rooted fear and freedom.
The Proverbs 31 woman can laugh without fear of the future because she fears God, and God alone. If a woman fears the Lord (meaning she delights in God, trusts God, and stands in awe of God and His ways), then she’s ultimately relying on God to sustain and carry her forward into her future. When we live this way, we point to someone far greater than ourselves. We point others to God, our hero and our redeemer.
The next time fear shackles your heart and mind, let it lead you to the Rock that’s higher than yourself. Make a freedom shift, cast your cares on the One who is faithful to save and ask Him to help you shift out of fear into love. You could be the representative of love that points people to God and away from their own chains of fear.
Obstacle #5: Shame
If you are living with shame, it will steal every bit of freedom you have. After all, we can’t move forward if we’re tethered to the ugly pain of our past. Brene Brown (famous shame researcher and author of some of my favorite books) defines shame as the fear of being unlovable- it’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy. In more academic terms, “shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Shame is a chain that is straight from the pit of hell, and it’s also a force that is no match for the blood of Jesus.
All of us have a past. Some of our pasts are just more colorful than others. Some of us have a good past. Others of us have a terrible past.
“The most important thing about your past is not how it left you- but instead how you let it live on today. You see we were not created to live in shadows of glory or shame. We were created to live in the light of now, and we are to gaze ahead to a future of increasing hope, joy, and brightness- never to be stuck trying to live in what is gone.” – Lisa Bevere
We tend to look back and entertain, rehearse and nourish the past, while God is looking forward and declaring our future. The attacks on your life have more to do with who you might be in the future than who you’ve been in the past. Don’t let shame keep you from getting there.
Your story isn’t over. There’s something strategic about your life. And here’s the good news…., when you work with God, He will get you where you need to be.
“I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world.” Philippians 1:6 VOICE
You are not your past, you are not what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you. You are a Daughter with eternal purpose and you cannot let shame keep you from the freedom that comes with that.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18