Most days I struggle to like myself.
There are aspects I love: my quirky, childlike sense of humor, my affinity to dance whenever a catchy song comes on, my love of the outdoors and ability to see God so easily there.
But too often those things I like are drowned out by what is going wrong, by that mistake I made or that personality quirk that no one else seems to understand.
It’s gotten to the point that I’ve suppressed pieces of my soul because I’ve become too afraid of being rejected if my true colors shine through.
I didn’t realize how bad off I was until recently at a church retreat, where I was put face to face with a word that so accurately described the state of my heart: Fugitive.
As I found a bench on the far side of the retreat center and started hashing out this reality with the Lord, I felt exposed and weak and ashamed — tied up in the need to perform perfectly and keep my mess hidden.
Reflecting on my life, I saw just how long I’d been held captive.
I was the child who prayed every time the salvation prayer was offered, because what if it didn’t stick the first time . . . or the seven times I’d prayed since then?
I was the college freshman praying through a revival service, begging God to tell me what I was doing wrong so I could fix it and not be condemned for sin I wasn’t even aware of.
I’ve been the woman so afraid of even the tiniest misstep, that I’ve put myself high up on a tightrope of performance, convinced one wrong move would plummet me out of God’s will, His love, His grace.
On that bench I saw the reality of my bondage. I saw how perfection and fear had robbed me.
I was living as a Fugitive.
But I longed for freedom.
That day, instead of begging the Lord to make me perfect, I begged to be set free. I asked Him to free me up to be exactly who He created me to be so that I could stop despising myself.
Too often we try to shove ourselves into boxes we weren’t meant to fit, and we wonder about the heart pain. We wonder why our souls feel like we are trekking through thick, swampy waters.
When we don’t embrace who we are created to be — when we deny ourselves, when we get too caught up in performing rather than abundant living — that’s when we fall into bondage. That’s when we give up abundant life for a murky shadow of what could be.
Paul writes to the Galatians that it is for freedom we have been set free.
Christ did not come to set us free from sin only so we could believe more lies about who we should be based on what the world tells us and what we tell ourselves.
If we’re going to live truly free lives, we have to plug our hearts into truth.
What is truth?
The truth is you are loved more abundantly than you could ever fathom. You are known inside and out, every intricate piece woven together with great care. You are adopted and chosen by the Father, saved by the Son, and filled with His ever-present Spirit.
You are loved!
And it’s that great love that gives you the freedom to be who you are.
Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that living free isn’t always easy. Freedom is messy and it’s something you have to fight for. Every day it requires waking up and remembering who you are and Whose you are, and clothing yourself in that truth.
But that’s okay. Get messy. Do battle.
And know that you aren’t doing this alone. Christ is there every step of the way, speaking truth, helping you fight against fear and self-doubt, reminding you how greatly you are loved.
Live in His love today.
Live in His freedom.