Over the past 12 months I have been slowly taking off the mask that I have worn for so many years. By having a better understanding of His grace I realised that I was living under the weight of condemnation, and not all what He intended for me. I wasn't free to be me. My King slowly and tenderly addressed issues such as rejection, feelings of unworthiness, conditional love, unforgiveness and unbelief. There is sticky residue that still remains where the mask had been, but daily the residue is wearing off and I am making some great discoveries about myself.
Firstly it was awkward learning to live in my new nature all over again. It seemed that somewhere along the way I had forgotten about His grace, and that He had set me free when I first believed that Jesus died for my sins. I had gone back to living in my old nature.
"I noticed someone following me down the sidewalk at a distance. I turned. "Excuse me, who are you and why are you following me?" "I'm the old you," he responded. "Me?" "No, the old you-before Christ." "But you're dead," I said with confidence. "I know," he said. "Then why are... you following me?" He smiled. "Because sometimes you forget I'm dead." ~George Parler
It was exhausting trying to be someone that I wasn't. I was no longer the person I was before I followed Christ, but I was trying to live as my former self, and failing miserably. I had, if you like, an identity crisis. Those chains that I was set free from, now bound me again. The mask was heavy to wear and I didn't know whether I could keep up the act much longer.
And then I sought after Him and I found Him.
I say this because I know what I am planning for you," says the Lord. "I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me.And when you search for me with all your heart, you will findme! I will let you find me," says the Lord. "And I will bring you back from your captivity. I forced you to leave this place, but I will gather you from all the nations, from the places I have sent you as captives," says the Lord. "And I will bring you back to this place."~ Jeremiah 29:11-14
In my misunderstanding of my King, I had pictured Him as a superstar - distant and uncaring about someone like me. I didn't understand that He was in fact, the servant King who humbled Himself by becoming one of us, so that He could die for our sins that separated us from Him. I didn't understand that He longed more than anything for me to have a relationship with Him. I didn't understand that He didn't want me to prove myself, or run around doing things for Him to pay Him back for what He did. He just wanted me to be me. It was like waking from a long sleep. And when I was fully awake, I realised that I wasn't me.
So it has been a time of discovery for me. I was so used to wearing the mask, that I didn't know what it was like to be me. I didn't know who 'me' was. I spent my time mimicking those who I admired, but I always felt like a fake. But over the last year, I have had a great time getting to know who 'me' is. And I actually like 'me'.
I have discovered through blogging, that I actually have a gift as a writer. Even calling myself a writer felt weird at first, but that's me! I am a writer. I can now say that and look you in the eye. Before I would say it and look at the floor. I love writing. It's my creative outlet. I have also discovered other things about myself. I don't like camping and I don't like cooking. And there is nothing wrong with that. I no longer feel guilty about not measuring up to what a 'real woman' should look like. Before I used to always feel like I never measured up as a stay at home mum because I didn't like to sew or knit or make my own bread. Not that there is anything wrong with those things. In fact I marvel at what my sister and others do with their hands. But it's just not me! Maybe as I make new discoveries about myself I may find a gentle art that I enjoy, but right now I haven't. I have always discovered that I am beautiful. A revelation that has changed me forever.
After agonising for years over what my gift was within the body of Christ, I have discovered just what my gift is. After years of filling out surveys and being told so many different things form everyone else, I came away even more confused about what my gift was. I now know just what my gift is - the gift of encouraging others. It just dawned on me that I'm good at it. And now that I know, I am free to move in this gifting. It comes quite naturally to me and I love using it.
Each one of us has a body with many parts, and these parts all have different uses. In the same way, we are many, but in Christ we are all one body. Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts. We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us. The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith.Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve. Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach.Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage.Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely. Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads. Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy. Romans 12:4-8
I read a book that my father gave me when He was still alive called "Silver Boxes" by Florence Litteaur. (Funnily enough, it was a book from the Amway network marketing distributors recommended book list. I love how biblical principles are embraced by the business world - because they work!) The book talks about encouragement being like a gift - a silver box with a ribbon on top that you can give someone. It's amazing what just a few encouraging words can do. A few weeks ago, I encouraged a school friend that hadn't posted on her poetry blog for a few months, to keep posting her poetry. That afternoon, she had posted one of her incredible poems. I gave her a gift -a 'silver box' of encouragement.
I am experiencing a liberty like never before. I am free to be me. I can't wait to continue discovering who I am. The more I realise just how much He loves me, the more the residue of the old mask comes off and I am free to live, free to give, free to be and free to love Him.
I am chosen, I am free. I am living for eternity. Free now forever.
You picked me up, Turned me around. You set my feet on solid ground. Yours now forever
And nothing's gonna hold me back. Nothing's gonna hold me back. Nothing's gonna hold me back.
My chains fell off, My heart was free. I'm alive to live for You. I'm alive to live for You.
Amazing Love, how can it be? You gave everything for me. You gave everything for me. Everything
You washed my sin and shame away. The slate is clean: a brand new day, Free now forever.
Now boldly I approach Your throne. To claim this crown through Christ my own. Yours now forever.
I'm free to live. Free to give. Free to be. I'm free to love You.
I’m free to live. Free to give. Free to be. I’m free to love you Lord.