At the beginning of this year I started a new bible study at my new church. It has been a study about freedom through the book of Galations.
I have learned some things, but tonight I really got a message and I just started taking so many notes and decided to put them on this blog.
Freshman year of college I was at a J.C. where I knew not one soul. I feel like junior college is 13th grade. Everyone that is local goes to this college because it is convenient and cheaper. They already have their groups of friends and you basically have a review of what you learned in high school. So being completely by myself I had just that– time to my self.
I was taking English 101 and just broke up with my high school boyfriend. I was given a lot of really good prompts to write essays on and had a lot of feelings to write about. Writing in this basic English class opened my heart to places I never knew about myself. One of them was that I had been striving to be perfect.
I wrote this whole essay about how I thought I needed to be perfect for everyone younger than me. How silly right?
Growing up I put myself on a pedestal to be perfect. Be this perfect older sister. Be this perfect older cousin and be an example to all the young ones that looked up to me. I had a self image that I needed to be perfect. Wouldn’t say a cuss word, wouldn’t drink a drop of achohl, wouldn’t do anything that I thought would let down everyone younger than me.
Tonight in the verses I was reading, I was diving into verses about the ‘yoke of slavery and yoke of Jesus’. I immediately put my “perfect self” in this yoke of slavery category. Once I wrote that essay when I was 18, I knew how silly it was. My younger brothers choose their own paths and could care less if I drank or fell from my perfect pedestal. They probably didn’t even notice I was trying to be perfect or set an example for them. And my younger cousins have turned out way more awesome than I ever was at their age!
I put myself under slavery to a bunch of “rules”, or as the bible called them laws, I made up. I needed to follow these rules to be perfect and not let anyone down. When I realized this at 18, I then turned down a different path and I would call that my rebellious stage. The 5 months of my life I wish I could take back and do over. I went from “perfect” (which I was not lol) to not caring what people thought of my life. I still never had a sip of alcohol, drugs or anything outrageous, but I didn’t respect myself. I didn’t allow guys to treat me like a woman of God. I didn’t dress like my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit and I didn’t live to show my new friends that I was a daughter of Christ.
God obviously got ahold of my heart real quick and I just started a whole new chapter in my life. Finding who I really was and what I really wanted. Living the way I wanted to, not in a negative way, but in the way of living for myself and that ended up being living for Jesus.
I realized also that I could never be perfect. The yoke of slavery of perfection I had on myself was rules that I could never live up to. Just like in the Bible when God created laws for his people, he knew they couldn’t follow all of them. We need God to help us. I’m so thankful he came to die for us and take away the rules. We can now live in freedom and peace in the Yoke of Jesus. Just as Matthew 11: 28-30 says,
Living this life of “perfection” was stressful. I didn’t realize I would never be enough. I put myself on this pedestal when I was around 9 years old. This life of slavery is exhausting, full of anxiety and fear. Do you have something in your life that is a yoke of slavery and you need to turn it into the yoke of Jesus?
Another yoke of slavery for me is anxiety and fear of health. For my husband and kids. I am doing so much better with it, but it is still a battle I fight every day (my bathroom mirror full of verses will tell you that’s true haha).
This life of a yoke of Jesus is so peaceful and full of rest and so freeing. Why would we want to live any other way?
I also have learned that it’s stupid to try to live perfectly. Not only will it never happen because I’m human and mess up every single day, but because God uses our messes.
Those five months of my rebellion against God I’ve only shared with a handful of people. I was so full of shame and disappointment in myself. Why did I not respect myself? Why did I say that? Why did I take a “sexy” picture and post it to MySpace?
So much shame that I still have dreams about some of it. It’s pretty ridiculous because I know I’m forgiven and I know that it is part of my testimony and God turns ashes into beauty. He will use these times in my life to create beauty and maybe steer someone else off the path that I took. I can never underestimate what he wants to do with my life and my past.
But becoming a mother put those five months in more of a shame bucket. I don’t want my kids to know there was a time I didn’t respect myself. I don’t want them to know I led on a bunch of different guys just for fun. How mean, selfish and not awesome of me.
But I need to hand all of that over to God and let him use my story for beauty and his glory. I’m not perfect, he is. And in his yoke, I can have peace and rest.
I want to leave with these verses;
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And his is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
This is the study that inspired this blog post
Experiencing Freedom, A study in Galations
With editors, Julie Bernard and Emily Dempster.
The images are from the Bible app.