As I was on my many excursions the other day to pick up one of my children, I stopped at a very familiar intersection waiting on the cars to pass so that I could pull out. I sat there for a moment gazing at the sky before me and, as I always do, noticed the huge American flag that was prancing in the wind. I have seen this flag a hundred times or more but for some reason at this particular moment, I was enamored by her beauty. Her presence courteously demanded attention; her colors seemed bolder than other days and the gracefulness in which she moved along with the rhythm of the wind connected with my spirit. I couldn’t help but to be compelled to take a snap shot and as the sound of the shutter echoed in my ears I heard the softly spoken words, “Independence Day, do you remember when I set you free?” Yes, we had just recently celebrated the 4th of July and I was able to enjoy my sweet granddaughter’s first parade and the company of family and friends at a cookout later on that day. We were all decked out in our patriotic attire, eating, drinking and fellowshipping as we were commemorating the freedoms that we are so blessed to enjoy. Yet it was not those events that were resonating in my spirit, immediately my mind went back to that glorious day that the magnificent God of heaven had set me free from a bondage that had held me captive for most of my life.
January 8, 2013 had begun like any other day (and for you Elvis fans, YES! That is his birthday!) I woke up with the break of day spilling through my blinds. My heart was heavy and that familiar empty feeling was nagging at my gut. I had known for a while now that things were getting ready to change in my life, I had prayed for the changes fervently for many years and I had even felt God bring me to a crossroads several times. Yet I, in my humanness, resisted the choices I knew I had to make and would find myself again back on the same road running in circles. There was something different about this day, I felt almost a dire straits type of urgency so I prayed and just asked God to once again guide my heart, my life, my thoughts and my decisions. The day went about as normal and it was mid-afternoon until I heard His voice. Ironically I was driving down the same road as the above pictured flag is on and I heard Him say to me. “Today is the day, you must make a change.” Mercy! Seriously! I must? Like a necessity? Would my world end if I didn’t make the right decision today? (I am so glad that God is used to my animated, dramatic responses.) Regardless of my reaction, I knew that I could not go to sleep on this night without making the change I knew God was directing me to make.
After my marriage of 12 years ended, I felt God persistently drawing me to Himself. Because of things that had happened in my childhood with my father, I grew up thinking (in a desperate ‘oh my god I have to have it or I will die of worthlessness’ manner) I needed a man to affirm me, to give worth, to deem me of value. I spent many years and cried many tears dealing with rejection from the ones I looked up to, needing them to lift me up. No matter how well I performed, what accomplishments I achieved, how many others thought I was the shizzz, if I didn’t get approval from the man in my life, well, I was left feeling empty, destitute and completely broken. I can’t relay to you the countless times I cried out to God, begging Him to just puh-lease change me and make me worthy of someone’s love and approval! One of my biggest fears was that I would end up alone without anyone to love me. I hated being alone. The thought terrified me even to the point of feeling anxiety a week before my children would go away to their dad for his time with them. I can look back now and see how ridiculously insane it all was, but during the time it was all happening, it was a cruel reality. So instead of being alone, I would find myself in relationships that weren’t meant for me to be in at all. Not necessarily ‘bad’ ones, just the wrong ones. The problems weren’t about who I was with, the problems were a stronghold buried deep inside of me and the God of Heaven wanted to break the stronghold.
To make a long story short, before the sun went down that day, I made the changes that I needed to make. It was scary and I felt it a little risqué to lay down all my defenses and control and to just trust God completely with every aspect of my heart and life. Just me and Him. Whew! I can tell you though that as soon as I acted on my decision, an enormous peace flooded my heart in a way that I had never ever felt before. A peace that I had fervently prayed for as a child, a young woman, as a mother. A peace that passed any understanding I could comprehend. A peace that wasn’t based on situations and circumstances all being hunky dory, but one that took up residence in a broken and empty heart and filled it to overflowing. It has been an amazing journey over the past year and a half. My children have faced some of the most challenging times since we lost their dad, yet each challenge has brought many blessings. Times that I would have caved under the pressures of life, I found myself resting in the assurance that God had it all under control. Nights that I would wake up feeling destitute and alone were soon replaced with sweet sleep and a comforting presence that followed my every step. Moments of revelation of God’s awesome power, His incredible love and His endless mercy. With His grace and help, I began to recognize the worth and value I possess within myself. I was discovering who I was, on a journey with just Him as my only appraiser and the treasure that dwells inside of me. (Heck fire! The SAME spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in me, how magnificent is that!?!
Of course there have been brief moments that I allowed myself to become distracted and veered off my course just a little, but those moments never last very long. The enemy of our soul is always seeking to trip us up, but God is always faithful to remind me of who I am, who He is and why and where He has me in my journey. The bible talks about in John 8 “if we know the truth, the truth will set us free. And if the Son sets us free, we are free indeed.” (paraphrased). As I sat there at the intersection and watched as the flag danced effortlessly with the wind beneath her, singing freedom to all who drove by, I was reminded of my freedom song, of all the things God has changed in my life and all the liberties He has planted in my heart through His truth. I pondered on the serenity I have found in singleness and the peace I have found in solitude with Him. I cried, I rejoiced, and I sang praises as I discovered a piece of myself in the beauty of that flag and I was reminded of MY Independence Day
(insert – for a woman who hated to be by herself for any given amount of time – I went on a solo hike in the Spring of this year. It was amazing!! Not only the best three hours I had ever spent, but a landmark in my journey of freedom that I cherish! The soothing melody of the waterfall, the tune of the creek as it trickled across the rocks, the gentle breeze that rustled my hair – it was all beautiful and breathtaking yet none of it could compare to the peace and tranquility that is dwelling inside of me! Yee haw!)