I walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. – Psalm 119:45
A few months ago my husband and I attended a book festival. We were cramped under a tent in the Alabama heat with dozens of other authors and their companions. Behind us, sat an older man and his publicist. The woman who was dressed in a white cotton top, neatly tucked into pin striped linen pants really struck me. She spoke softly, and her mannerisms were that of a true southern lady—like the ones we’ve all read about in novels. Nothing like the modern southern belle, the sassy Miranda Lambert types—who are somehow full of both mouth and Jesus at the same time. I include myself in that bunch. We’re a strange folk. Bless our hearts.
But even with my talkative nature, all I wanted to do was listen to her. Her soft voice and spirit stirred something within me. I confided to my husband hours later that I wished I was more like her. I didn’t have to know anything about her to know I wanted to be more like that. I wanted to have more control over my speech. (Even y’all know how open and vulnerable I am.) I wanted to be more poised, and I wanted to be more delicate.
Who the heck was I kidding?
That’s the look my husband gave me. He bluntly said, “You’ll never be anything like that woman. That’s not who you are.”
He was right, of course. I wasn’t made to be her. I was made to be me, and wishing to be like someone else is not living in thanksgiving of God’s perfect love for me. He knew when He knitted me together that I’d have some broken parts—a few chips and cracks that darkness likes to sometimes take advantage of. He knew I’d be incredibly talkative and giggle at the slightest thing. He knew I’d be unrefined and raw, in both word and action. He created me for my purpose—and most importantly, His purpose.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, if I’m honest. Because sometimes I don’t particularly enjoy being me. It was a common occurrence to walk away from a conversation that seemed so fun and great, only to later think back on it and wish I’d said something differently. Why did I even say that? Agh!
I’ve been embracing freedom for well over a year now, and it’s not unusual to hear “You’re free!” or “You live in freedom!” multiple times a day in my house. Every time anyone in my family starts to beat up on themselves, this is our mantra. We’re free to love ourselves as God loves us. If we’ve over-spoken, we completely surrender it to God. He’ll cover us. He’ll give us words to make things right. He’ll provide new opportunities when we’ve messed up other ones. He’s so good like that.
This isn’t to say that we aren’t still responsible for our wrongdoing or that our actions don’t have consequences. But just as all good earthly fathers do, God who is infinitely more stands with us and for us. He still disciplines, but His grace is always, always undeserved.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:17-18
I’m starting to understand, at a deep heart level, finally moving past the intellectual side of it, that God isn’t calling us to perfection. He’s calling us to authenticity filtered by grace. This includes grace for ourselves and grace for others. If we focused on speaking and doing life through a James 3: 17-18 filter, everything would change. We’d learn what it’s truly like to become the salt of the earth. We’d become beacons of light.
And I’d finally stop worrying about what I should have or have not said in that conversation earlier. I could rest assured that I’d done the best I could to be authentic and grace-full. And I wouldn't spend another second wishing I was more like someone else.
This is only a tiny fraction of what freedom looks like. Its grandness is unimaginable, but I’m excited to continue the journey.
In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. – Ephesians 3:12
Live free, my friend.
So thankful for you and your beautiful soul,
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