It Is For Freedom
When my husband and I got married over ten years ago, life looked a lot different than it does now. In our newly minted life, my expectations were just a smidge over the top. I was a gal who not only grew up in the church but always did the “right thing.” I got good grades in school. I obeyed my parents. I went to church and was a part of youth groups, bible studies, and Campus Crusade all through high school and college.
And every single thing I did “right” was proof that I deserved a lot for my good behavior. At least I felt I did. I wouldn’t have been able to define it that way at the time, but I was pretty self-righteous.
As a faithful youth grouper, church-goer, and Campus Crusader, I was pretty sure I knew what a Christian marriage was supposed to look like. And I definitely knew what a Christian husband was supposed to be like.
Once the honeymoon passed, it didn’t take long before I felt frustrated. Here I was, reading my bible every day, getting involved in church, having conversations about God...and my new husband was not behaving as I expected. He wasn’t reading his bible (not that I could see), he wasn’t praying (not the way I did, anyways, by journaling prayers) and he wasn’t constantly talking about Jesus.
Over time, life began to change. We switched jobs several times, and we had two kids. The burdens of life became a little heavier. And as I nagged him every once in awhile about his faith life, mine was actually becoming nearly impossible to bear.
My early morning bible readings were replaced by me staying in bed after a long night with the babies. My long-winded and multiple pages of prayers were replaced by tired and desperate prayers breathed in the few free moments I had in a day. It was even a burden to drag the baby to small group in the evenings, so we took a long break and opted for early bedtimes for everyone.
I became heavier with my burdens, but he did not. As we have talked through these differences over the years, I came to realize a few things:
I wasn’t doing myself any favors by keeping to some sort of faith checklist that God never even made for me. He never asked me to bear that burden. He asks me for relationship and offers redemption. He does not offer a three-step plan to an easy and peace-filled life. In fact, He longs for me to come as I am...broken...because only then am I ready to be filled with Him.
I wasn’t doing my marriage any favors by placing those same burdens on my husband. Over time, I realized his prayer life was actually more all-encompassing and had more depth simply because he conversed with God multiple times over the course of his day in multiple types of settings and moods. He was more in tune with the Spirit because he wasn’t paying attention to any kind of checklist. It was a more steadfast relationship, and I could actually stand to learn more from him about the topic if I just gave him that freedom to be who he was in Christ.
I wasn’t doing the world any favors by filling out my so-called spiritual checklist. No one comes to Jesus because they talked to a self-righteous person who had more rules for them to follow. But allowing God to give me the freedom to live into my brokenness was the only way I have ever broken into other people’s lives. The times that I have been vulnerable about my status of being a hot mess are the times I have connected most with other people. We all love feeling human together. No one wants to feel like they’re the only person who doesn’t have it all together. I found if I was just vulnerable on my messiest days, and shared how I allow God’s grace in, I could actually encourage others more on those days...and be more encouraged myself.
Once I gave myself the freedom to pursue a relationship with God, as opposed to pursuing rules, I saw that relationship blossom. I felt His love so much more because I knew He loved me for me. Yes, He wanted me to come to Him in prayer and through scripture, but he wanted me to come to HIm because I wanted to...because I wanted to learn from Him and be close to Him. That is the road to wisdom and freedom and right living.
Once I gave Cody the freedom to be who he was in Christ, I learned a lot from him. Turns out he was praying, and he was reading his bible (he was actually listening to it on his work trips in the car for hours). I had assumed he wasn’t just because it didn’t look how I thought it should look.
Once I stop trying to have it all together, the more I connect and the more I can share my story. The more I stop trying to fit others into a mold, the more I learn about my relationship with God. And the more I can share Jesus.
It’s freedom. That’s what we are in Jesus. And anything that convinces me otherwise isn’t from Him.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
I am free to be me…in Jesus. I am free to make mistakes…in Jesus. I am free to fumble and ask questions and be confused…in Jesus. I am free to allow others to be who they are in Christ. I am free to pray, not as an obligation but as a privilege, as a gift. I am free to approach the throne of God in the middle of an average day filled with little kids and dishes and errands and fights…what a beautiful gift! I am free to share my heart, my stories, my stuff, my life…in Jesus. Because all I really need, I have in Him. I am completely free to ask questions and wrestle…in Jesus. He makes me good, not my checklist.
Those things which weigh us down are only placed on our backs as burdens by ourselves. Those burdens can actually be the things that bring freedom.
Make a list of the things that feel heavy to you. Are these things you could view differently? Is there a new and fun way you can approach scripture reading? Is there a new way you can try prayer that’s more in line with your personality? Is there some time you can set up with a close friend to get out some of your big questions about God? What do you sense Jesus wants to set you free from?
Don’t run from those things. Embrace them. God still may use them yet.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
Jamie Hergott has been a writer since she was old enough to keep a journal. With a background in journalism, Jamie connects with God, His people, and her heart through writing. She currently works as a freelance writer, and works even harder as a stay-at-home mom of two. She and her high school sweetheart Cody have been married for ten years and are a part of the Common Ground West community.