As I was driving down the highway today pondering over my life, (something I tend to do in a semi-quiet car) I began thinking about the word “free” and how the meaning has changed for me over the course of the last few years.
I used to sing a song at church with the following lyrics:
“No more shackles, no more chains, no more bondage, I am free!”
In my mind, I was the “free” one. Living a life being a part of God’s “chosen few”.
In my soul, I foolishly thought being “free” meant loathing myself. Crying silently in the shower because I was unhappy with the person I saw in the mirror. Not that looks are everything, but when you feel ugly on the outside every second of every day, you are miserable and tend to have a terrible body image.
I played it off like I was a martyr. My suffering was for the greater cause, my appearance made God happy, and for that reason I forced myself to appear whole on the outside. At least, I thought that is how I appeared to others.
One day a relative looked me point blank on the eye and asked if I was happy. To be completely honest, this person was not part of God’s special “chosen” so I was completely offended. How in the world could they ask me such a question? Clearly, I was living an “overcoming life” when they were left out in the world!
But that comment stuck with me.
I slowly began to be honest with myself and realize I was not happy, or free. In fact, I was completely miserable. Living under the bondage of religious legalism.
Once I began to really dive into God’s word, I found He really couldn’t care less about our outward appearance, He really does only look at the heart, and my saint level did not go up or down at all based on what my clothes looked like.
In fact, the Bible says our own righteousness is as filthy rags, and Jesus himself was not happy with the spiritual leaders of his day because they were too worried about how long the fringes of their robes were.
Now, every day for the last three years of my life I wake up feeling free! Actually free! I can breathe and be secure in the fact nothing I wear on the outside will make the God who sent his own Son to earth to die for me love me any less. I can be the person he made me to be and let that uniqueness shine through in my appearance. When you have a positive body image, your whole outlook changes.
The thought I am His child and he loves me unconditionally takes away my bondage and I am truly free in Jesus!
Now I truly can sing:
“No more shackles, no more chains, no more bondage, I am free”!