Home alone caring for her home and family, a young wife sent this to her husband who was engaged in protecting their country:
“The great distance between us makes the time appear very long to me. It seems already a month since you left me. The great anxiety I feel for my country, for you, and for our family renders the day tedious and the night unpleasant…Did ever any kingdom or state regain its liberty, when once it was invaded, without bloodshed? I cannot think of it without horror.
Polybius [said], ‘…as there is nothing more desirable or advantageous than peace, when founded in justice and honor, so there is nothing more shameful…when attained by bad measures and purchased at the price of liberty.’”
This Wednesday, we celebrate the 242nd birthday of the USA. This letter from Abigail Adams to her husband, John, could be written today. Our world and our country struggle with conflicts over liberty and ideology.
I believe true freedom is not found in political parties, wars (which we will always have), laws, dictatorships, or even the consensus of the people.
True freedom is found in facing your fear.
For most of my life, I’ve struggled with fear. And while fear is an emotion, I also believe it is a real spirit, one of Satan’s minions.
Here’s why I say that: too many times to enumerate, I mind my own business, happily engaged in an activity, when irrational fear overcomes me. No warning. I’m not thinking about anything stressful. Just a sudden overwhelming, heart-stopping, breath-stealing fear. But when I cry out to Jesus in those moments, the fear is instantly gone. Emotions don’t flee when you call on the name of Jesus, but minions do.
If this premise is correct, then how do you find true freedom in your life right now?
- Salvation in Jesus Christ. History verifies the veracity of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Polytheistic thinking disavows this truth wanting instead to promote the concept of multiple avenues to heaven. But Jesus, the Creator of the universe, took on the form of one of us, His created ones, to bring us into a relationship with God, the Father. He tells us that all we need to do is believe in His name to be saved. Saved to true freedom.
- Live authentically. The emotion of fear runs rampant when you live a lie. But, once the lie is exposed to the truth, it has no control or power. The only effective way I’ve found to live authentically is to walk daily with Jesus. When I immerse myself in His Word (the Bible), spend time talking with Him (prayer), and confess my sins, I am free to live as He created me to be. I can walk in Jesus’ power, no matter what others may think of me. Anne Graham Lotz puts it this way, “[Jesus] lived in subjection to the very things He had created. Why? So that you and might have the power, through faith in Him, to overcome the empty, broken, sinful, bitter, meaningless, lonely, helpless, fearful, weak, religious, and hopeless world of which we are a part.”
- Quit trying to please everyone else. Criticism stings. Whether you are a people-pleaser or not, most of us struggle with the emotions criticism evokes. It took me quite a while to learn to accept criticism, good and bad, for what it is. Constructive criticism speaks truth laced with love and the desire for your best. But critics have no such intention. A critic merely finds fault. When you operate your life based on the opinions of others, you are susceptible to the whims of criticism. However, when you root your life in God’s Word (the Bible), you learn how to evaluate those opinions against an unchanging standard. If a person’s opinion doesn’t mesh with God’s Word, you can disregard it. Trying to develop a “thick skin” didn’t work. I became cynical instead. Only when I began to be more concerned about what God thought about my words and actions and less about what others thought did I learn to be comfortable being myself. Back to #2 and walking in true freedom.
- Call your fears what they are. The emotion of fear is very real. I still have a few areas where the fear overwhelms me. Jesus and I are working on those areas together. But, when fear tries to raise its ugly head, I call on the mighty name of Jesus. I tell Jesus what I am feeling and ask Him to show me the truth. Often the emotion of fear is based on the unknown, or anticipated actions or responses to my actions—like writing this post. But only when I face fear head-on, armed with the truth of God’s Word, can I call its bluff. Fear is a bully and a wimp. The minion of fear knows he’s spineless and has nothing on you. But he will do his best to convince you otherwise. Satan is not creative. He resorts to the same tactics, often more successfully than you and I want. When you sense fear overtaking you, call it what it is. Then, choose to walk in your freedom in Jesus.
- Change your inputs. Several years ago, I decided not to watch the local TV news or even the National news on a regular basis. Studies show that leading with negative headlines garners more attention than positive ones though most people will tell you they prefer to hear more good news than bad. It turns out, a constant diet of the negative, emotionally-charged news often reported today, does affect our psyche. Graham C. L. Davey Ph.D. said in an article in Psychology Today, “So not only are negatively [balanced] news broadcasts likely to make you sadder and more anxious, they are also likely to exacerbate your own personal worries and anxieties.” Years ago, there was a popular acronym, GIGO, which stood for Garbage In, Garbage Out. What you choose to consume will spill out in your thoughts, words, emotions, and actions. Therefore, I’ve chosen to carefully monitor and choose what I spend my time watching, reading, and consuming. Now I am better able to deal with those nasty fears and kick Chicken Little to the curb. If you were to do a Google search like “Is there more violence today than in years past” you might be surprised at the results. I was.
On this Independence Day in the United States or July 4 everywhere else, I hope you will take a few moments to think about what true freedom looks like for you.
For those who serve in the military, police force, and sheriff departments, thank you! Each day you choose to put yourself in danger to protect our country’s freedom.
What hold does fear have in your life? What changes do you need to make to replace fear with true freedom? Enter the discussion by leaving a comment below. If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.