I thought, and we’ve joked about this at our table, that, “12 or 13 weeks and I would be fit and slender, having mastered the out-of-control areas of my that I choose to medicate with avoidance tactics.” Obviously, I will need more than the length of this class. So, even though we’ve had a half-joking count-down going, I’m not 100% free, BUT God has done some amazingly amazing, super unexpected, out-of-left-field kind of things, and I know now how to continue.
God began orchestrating my attendance in this class before I had even heard about the class and all kinds of areas in my life that I had barely held on to control started to fall apart. My weight was the highest it had ever been, my parenting was becoming just a series of one yelling match after another, the anti-depressant that I had taken for the past 14 years was suddenly not enough and the Dr. diagnosed me with ‘severe depression’ and tripled my regular dosage. I found myself struggling to go to work, to go out with friends, to attend events for our kids because of how horrible I felt about myself and how embarrassed they must be of me. When Brenda started announcing FFL from the stage, I was more than ready to go! My husband thought it was a great idea and I even had two amazing interns in my small group that were more than ready to take over the group so I could go.
I started Freedom for Life to try and get a handle on this run-away food habit and some of the side effects of my depression, like sleeping & reading too much, burying my head and avoiding painful things... like life. It is interesting to me that God is not addressing it. At all. Yet, anyway. Instead, there seems to be an agenda that Someone made without consulting me! The lessons seem to be all about stuff that happened to me growing up, who I need to forgive, what kind of generational sin I have inherited, area's I've gone off track in response to all kinds of stimuli, coming to terms with belonging in this giant family of God and more...!
Pretty early on, during a quiet prayer time in class, a recurring dream I have had since at least 2nd grade popped into my head. There was no reason at all for me to think of it then, and since I actually remembered something I’ve heard Brenda teach, I asked God what it meant and why I was remembering it now. Clearer than I’ve ever heard Him, God said, “I never meant you to be so alone.” He spoke right to the deepest longing in my heart. As a child of divorced parents, and many other events that I interpreted to mean that I was un-lovable, un-wantable, worthless, God put His finger right on a key issue. I know God is still working on this one but I see the lie now and I want to get my worth, my value, my identity from God.
A similar thing God has addressed began when I read the question: Which areas of pain are you medicating? My quick answer was 'the part that says I am no good...' and then I felt like God stopped me right there. The part of me that says it's no good isn't really a part of me at all. It's something I can choose to put on or take off. I can walk in it and be miserable, or I can ask Jesus to come speak Truth. I've always just thought it was part of who I am, that's a lie, it doesn't have to define me. It's like a ratty old shirt that I can start each day with or choose NOT to wear it? Walk in Truth or darkness? This has really been a big step in seeing the lies of the enemy for what they are and choosing NOT to walk in them, actually calling them lies! And it has allowed me to tackle some sin & forgiveness issues.
I’ve been to the Gospel of Wholeness weekend workshop a couple times and also went through it with a peer Counselor, and I didn’t get the whole issue with sin until FFL. I could tell you that the root issue of problems in anyone’s life is sin, but I just couldn't wrap my head around how to apply it to my life. FFL really helped me dig into why I was stuck in some areas of my life, but a key part of this was also seeing the others at our table walk through this, too. Even though we all came to this class for different reasons, the root issue really was sin, I just couldn’t see it before. During the weeks dealing with forgiveness, in the midst of my struggle to just want the people who have hurt me to acknowledge how they’ve hurt me or set negative responses in motion, God really, clearly brought a time when I needed forgiveness to mind. I could feel again how awful it felt to have that hanging over my head and how free it felt after receiving forgiveness. And Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, which is usually a super stressful terrible time for me, was really good. I think it was because I could see both the sin and the forgiveness in action and could let my family be who they are, broken people just like I am, without needing something from them that they don’t know how to give anyway. I think this realization has really helped me learn to love other people, regardless of their own addictions and how they’d failed me, because I really see now how we are all the same. Before I learned this, I could only do that from a distance.
Something that I feel like God has promised me is joy. I catch glimpses of it in worship, but God wants me to be free, wants to set me free to be the person He can see inside. Now I actually have hope and expectation! So all of this has been so. not. my. agenda. at. all. But in truth (Truth?), it is all such good stuff. I can feel myself stretching & growing as I consider things I have avoided with my whole being for years and years. And I can see that God has more planned for me than I ever expected, and I am amazed at the wide chasm I see between my idea of whole and healthy and His. His idea is way more work, with different priorities than I would have planned.
I definitely want His!