I'm Free Fallin'

"Just leave me alone! Leave. Me. Alone!” came shouting and crying from the child thrown across the bed at the end of the hall. The wailing caused a pall to fall on the household as everyone else became silent and gave each other sidelong glances. It appeared the child would get their wish because no one else knew what to do but give in. This child wanted freedom from us, the parents. So be it.

 

In a short period of time, when no one ran to the bedroom to object to the request, the tantrum was over and the three-year-old emerged in a much calmer state.

 

Have you ever witnessed or been this child? The all-too-familiar scenario speaks volumes about human nature. How often do we also, as adults, fall prey to throwing the proverbial fit when we are too angry, tired, hungry or overwhelmed to deal with life? I know I have more often than I would care to admit.

 

Just leave me alone.

 


Like an out-of-control child, the natural self grabs for the freedom to be or do want it wants, when it wants it. Psychologists and academics call this type of freedom foolish freedom. Foolish freedom is a type of freedom that desires no boundaries. Without rules, this freedom often goes to an extreme and destroys its resources. As an example, think of a rock star smashing a guitar at a concert, because they can. It’s a desire that eventually implodes.

 

The twin to true freedom is responsibility. In a recent graduation speech, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of theUnited States, Clarence Thomas, spoke about our freedoms as citizens and the corresponding boundaries which make independence possible. Growing up on a farm he mentioned the obligation to take care of the land, to use it to produce food for their family and for others. 

If there was to be independence, self sufficiency, or freedom, then we first had to understand, accept, and discharge our responsibilities… The only guarantee was that if you did not discharge your responsibilities, there could be no independence, no self-sufficiency, and no freedom.
— Imprimis, May/June 2016

The apostle Paul talks about this type of freedom. Those who believe in Jesus have become truly free from the curse of sin and death. Believers have been redeemed by the atoning work of Jesus. In a sense he turned the freedom/responsibility upside down. God has let us off the responsibility of paying for our desire for a foolish freedom because we are not capable of paying for our sin and fulfilling his requirements to be perfect. We are born in sin. Instead, Jesus took the blame and paid by his death on the cross.

 

The astonishing act of making payment, and subsequently giving the gift of faith to all who believe, has set us free from that debt and replaced it with a debt of gratitude. All he asks is that we obey the Great Command, to serve others in love.
 

God the Father has made it possible for us to flee the path of being left alone to wallow in our guilt.

Jesus’ love has made it possible for us to be reunited with our perfect and just heavenly Father.

The Holy Spirit has given us the capability to live the gospel out of thankfulness and joy.
 


We don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation, and at the same time we are free to do more and to be more because we can live out the freedoms won for us on the cross.

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

So in a sense, our freedom from sin has a built-in responsibility. It is the key to a happy life no matter what our circumstance. We can choose to live out of gratitude and love for the freedom God has granted us by following his directives in the Word.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
— John 13:34-35

Our freedom can be manifested in all kinds of ways.

As parents, we train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We teach our children to serve each other out of love, even when they want to be left alone.

As family members, we bear with one another through the highs and lows of life. We support one another with encouraging words.

As friends, we listen to one another. We counsel each other to turn our desires for foolish freedom back to the freedom of living life in accordance with the Word of God.


Living in God’s type of freedom sounds easy as I sit at my computer and pen these words. However, dedicating our lives to preserving and passing on the Word of God and the truths therein is an uphill battle.

I ask myself, do I love my freedom in Christ enough to persevere?

Am I willing to be responsible in love even as the world around me crumbles into chaos and disorder?

Am I strong enough to stand up and shine when all around God’s people are encouraged to slip back into foolish freedom?

On our own, we are not able to do this. With God, all things are possible.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
— Ephesians 6:13

By grace, we can be truly free because we have been set free. 


Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth to live the perfect life I cannot live and to pay the penalty for sin I could not pay. We are truly free because of your love. Help us to flee our desire for foolish freedom. We want to be beacons of your love in this dark world as we live out our freedom to serve you and others. Empower us through your Holy Spirit and may we live to glorify your name. Amen.

Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

FIGHT2Header My husband will pen the next few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it.  But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too.

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This is a continuation of last week's post. If you missed it, you can read it here: Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle

The Moment of Truth

I call it the moment of truth because in one instant what had been hidden in darkness for so many years was brought into the light. It was also the moment that Truth set me free. When I look back at that moment, I see it as the beginning of the end. Years later, it has proven be a triumphant instant, and I am so thankful it happened. However, placing myself back in that room that evening, I remember it as it really was, a moment of overwhelming shame, of total fear, and much silence.

God was present that night. I had no intentions of telling my fiancé about my struggle. I was still living in self-denial that somehow I’d overcome it before we were married or, if not, maybe marriage would solve it. But God placed the thought of confession in my head and it grew all night until I spontaneously told her.

Her shock and hurt were expected and awful, but God was still there and He filled my fiancé with grace and she forgave me. I was able to leave her that night so thankful to know I hadn’t lost my best friend.

God’s Refining

While I spent all the days after trying to earn back her trust and restore our wounded relationship, God was unknowingly continuing His plan of redemption in my life, and it all began with a simple swollen finger.

Sickness

It was during this same time that one of my fingers swelled up for no known reason. I went to the doctor and they figured I must have injured it, so they recommended taping it and letting it heal. This didn’t work and the swelling remained.

Fast-forward a year. I’m now married and the swelling had spread to numerous fingers, my wrists and toes. The inflammation in my feet was particularly bad and made walking quite painful, forcing me to limp around all day. I was seeing one specialist after another and was being put on one drug after another, but nothing was working and to make matters worse all the different medications had only left me feeling more sick.

Unemployment

While this was happening, I was struggling to find a job. During my final semester at college I had been interviewing for a great position at a good company and was nearing the end of the interview process. I was supposed to meet with the president of the company (I was hoping it was to shake hands on the job), but suddenly two weeks went by with no word from them. The call finally came and it wasn’t good news; the company was going on a hiring freeze because the economy wasn’t looking good. The job no longer existed.

My plan for a post-college job was gone and I had no back-up plan. I ended up continuing at my internship making $10 an hour. However, even this could only go on for so long and before I knew it, I was totally unemployed.

Anxiety Attacks

Thankfully God provided a job after three months without work. It was nice to have a full-time position doing what I majored in at college. While I was still searching for answers with my sickness, this job was an answered prayer.

Then it happened, I had only been at the company for several months, when one day I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing. I had no idea what was happening and I called my wife panicked. She quickly came and took me to the ER where they concluded I had suffered an anxiety attack. I had never heard of that and thought they must be wrong.

They weren’t. For the next six months, I suffered from life-debilitating anxiety attacks. I was terrified to go anywhere or see anyone. I never cry, but this brought out the tears, and many nights I lay in my wife’s arms an emotional wreck feeling like I was losing my mind. I had no control over this and it was defeating me. It was the final straw and it broke me.

I needed God.

Made New

While I was at my sickest and only weighed 128 pounds, I had no cure; I needed God. While I was doing everything I could to find a job, I couldn’t force it to happen; I needed God to provide one for me. When I was at my lowest moment with anxiety attacks, feeling totally helpless and scared, I had no solution; I needed God to rescue me.

Through the course of all these trials, God revealed to me the root of my problem: I was my first love and He wasn’t. Though I had a faith in Him, my life was self-serving and really, I had no need for God beyond my salvation. When we look at God’s laws, we either will obey them because we are afraid of the consequences or because we love Him enough to do what He says. With pornography, I loved myself more than God and I didn’t have enough fear of the consequences so it was easy to choose sin.

One of my biggest regrets is that I initially overcame pornography for my wife. She said she would leave me if I ever slipped up again, and I believed her. I didn’t want that to happen so the consequence was severe enough to stop me. However, now that God has made me new and drawn me into a deep relationship with Him, He has become my first love. I am able to overcome temptation based on my love for Him alone

Amazing Grace

In the months to come, God slowly began to rebuild me. My prayer life and time in his Word became essential parts of my day. He provided an answer to my sickness. God also helped me to find complete freedom from the anxiety attacks through Him alone.

I’ll always remember driving to work one day after all this had passed listening to Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace. I found myself overwhelmed by the lyrics because all of a sudden I truly understood the gravity of what God had done for me. “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior, has ransomed me.” This truth has transformed my relationship with God and also healed and blessed my relationship with my wife.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. - 2 Timothy 4:18

 

To read about the lessons I learned about overcoming pornography you can read the the last part here: Overcoming Pornography: Thoughts for the Struggling. You can read the other post in this series here: The Pornography Epidemic, Going on the Offensive Against Porn

 

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Overcoming Pornography: The Struggle

FIGHT2Header My husband will pen the next few posts on this topic. For years, neither of us wanted to talk about porn. We had no desire to be vocal about its part in our life, let alone talk to others about it.  But the power of God and the joy of the freedom found in him, bring out our feeble voices. So, this is our story and we are fervently praying it will encourage others with their own stories. Jesus has overcome all darkness and with his strength, you can too.

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I was addicted to porn, but now I’m free. I was living a life of constant guilt and shame, but now I understand more fully God’s amazing love and forgiveness. I was a walking lie, but now the Truth defines me.

How did I do it?

One word: God. However, the journey He used to set me free takes many more words to tell.

The Struggle

I had been struggling with pornography since 8th grade and I was incredibly ashamed of it. I knew it was wrong and I was committed to winning the war. But day after day, month after month, and year after year, the battle continued.

I can’t explain how awful this sin is and how incredibly addicting it becomes. At 14, I was just a curious male teen, giving into a sin this one time. But soon a one-time sin became a one-more-time sin, and before I realized it I was losing control of the situation. I had allowed darkness into my life.

I’ll always remember my prayers: “God forgive me. Don’t give up on me. Don’t leave me. I’m so sorry!”

While I needed God so badly, my guilt and shame pushed me away. I felt undeserving to even touch God’s Word or go to Him in prayer. Why would God listen to me anymore? Why would He continue to put up with me?

While God knew the real me, no one else did. I was just a “great” Christian guy that people respected. I strongly desired to be that guy, but I was locked in the chains of this sin.

College Days

During high school I feared that God would punish me for these sins by not letting me find a wife. However, in college that worry quickly faded when I started dating a girl our freshman year. Right from the start, we became best friends and our relationship flourished. Life was great.

The problem is I was still living a double life. College had brought new freedoms and the struggle was even worse. My girlfriend only knew the “great Christian guy” version of me, which I rationalized was okay because I was still determined to overcome this sin and she would never have to know.

Fast forward to our senior year. We were now engaged and had a wedding planned for after our graduation. One part of me was on top of the world, while the other was overwhelmed by the darkness I had let into my life nearly a decade earlier.

I knew the truth: I wasn’t going to be able to overcome this addiction on my own, but Satan used my shame and fears to keep me trapped in this never-ending cycle of guilt, remorse, and failure.

We were spending time together in her room after having completed our homework for the night. Nothing was unusual. It was just a normal night. But something happened. The Truth happened. God opened up my mouth and in one unplanned instant I broke my silence. The entire course of our lives had just changed.

To be continued... You can read part 2 here: Overcoming Pornography: The Moment of Truth

Note: If you missed the other posts in this series, you can find them here: The Porn Epidemic, Going on the Offensive Against Porn

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