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Shattered. Beaten Down. Broken

These are just some of the myriad of words and feelings that described my life about 3.5 years ago. Those words before that time held no significance to me and rarely fell upon my mind.

All considering, my life was pretty spectacular. I had my dream job. Every day I woke up doing all I could to show the community around me and the church how much Jesus loved them. Spending hours in the Bible preparing my next sermon. Getting to dream with people and show them how they were created to do such extraordinary things.

But in the matter of seconds you can go from beautiful to shattered. My mind still plays it through a slow motion lens. The best way to describe it is when you drop a glass and the moment it slips from your grasp – time just stands still. As it stumbles through your hand you begin to move as fast as you can to regain composure and scoop it back into your hands when all of the sudden time is no longer standing still, but reverts back to normal time and you were too late. It falls to the ground with a crash sending pieces of glass flying everywhere. What once was the form of a glass is now unrecognizable laying on the ground shattered.

I don’t have a lot to compare this period of time in my life to, but it is the worst day/time in my life. All that I had been working for slid through my now shaking hands and I was left shattered in a million pieces. But this time it wasn’t a glass. It was my life. It was my heart. It was my very being. My world was about to change in ways I never thought would be possible.

I spent months as a recluse. The once vibrant spirit filled with joy and ecstasy now filled with void and a lack of hope. I had lost reason to leave the house. It was easier to just lay there and sleep with no motivation what-so-ever. I allowed my sin and my mistakes to tell me my worth and it fed off my insecurities until the point that it had total control over me. Fear began to take over every aspect of my life. Noises would send me into a panic attacks. I was scared to even go to the grocery store. My past and my sin was all I could see. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I am not writing this because I want to share with you all of my reclusivity (I know that’s not a word, but I am so owning it). I am sharing all of this because no longer do I see the shattered person I had become. No longer do I see a person defined by their sin. No longer do I allow the lies of my sin to feed off my soul. Now I should preference all of this by informing you that by no means do I NEVER have my weak moments of listening to the whispers of my sins. Though, through it all, I see a child of God when I look at my reflection. No longer just a sinner. No longer a mistake. No longer a monster.

We all have areas of our lives that we are not proud of. For many of us they will stay hidden in the darkened corners of our lives. We pray that they never see the light of day. Here’s the truth though – it takes so much work to keep it that way. When we do this – when we try to keep things hidden in our lives we become enslaved to those darkened areas and sins. We feel that if people found out about them, they would judge us or look at us differently. Let me tell you from personal experience – THEY DO & THEY WILL! I really do wish I could tell you that would never happen, but lying would do nothing to prepare you for when you want to reclaim your freedom. What I can tell you, is that you will quickly find out who loves you unconditionally and who is a true friend and ally in your life.

I lost some of the key relationships that were in my life, but what it also did was strengthen the relationships I had with a few families. They never stopped believing in me and dreaming for me and my future. Which I truly needed because I had already stopped believing and dreaming for my own life. Other than my family (which I know I take for granted because without them I think I would still be lost) these were the only people I now had in my life. Or so I would believe. I had allowed my freedom to be stripped from me because I was now fully enslaved and in bondage to my sin.

When it comes to our freedom it is something that we take for granted. At least I know I did until freedom was something that was fleeing from my life. I don’t just mean freedom in a physical sense either. We take for granted the emotional freedom, the psychological freedom, and our spiritual freedoms. We allow aspects in our lives to seize the freedom we have in our lives and force us to live imprisoned by the things of this world.

We allow our fear, our pasts, our shame, our guilt, and our sin to deprive us and subjugate us to the lies in our lives. We allow it to tell what we deserve. That we don’t deserve to be treated well or we don’t deserve to be loved or treated with respect and compassion. We allow it to shatter our freedom and give it power to revoke our hope and dreams that we once held onto. We give it strength and control over us. It binds us. It tears us down.

But here is the truth: In the midst of our shattered lives Jesus does something beautiful. He takes the hurt and brokenness and starts reshaping the pieces into something that is recognizable – something that has life, and in the stillness of hopelessness we hear the soft patter of a heartbeat that is regaining vigor. Regaining it’s strength. Regaining it’s power. Jesus sets us free from our bondage of our sins and He gives us life.

Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” We no longer are enslaved by our sin. Do you hear that??? Jesus died on a cross to set us completely free from our pasts and free from our sins. You may think that your sin and your pasts are so terrible that God can’t possibly love you, but I want you to understand this. No matter what lies you are believing and listening to – listen to this truth. God loves you so much that he had his Son die on a cross for YOU – so that you may live in freedom. You no longer have sin as your master. You have been bathed in grace. You have been set free. Our shackles are no more because Jesus Christ has broken every chain.

It says in Galatians 5:1 “It is freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Sin no longer has a stronghold on your life. Freedom is yours. Let me say this again….YOU ARE FREE!

Stand firm and know the truth that you are free in the Lord. Nothing can take that freedom away from you. Through the power of Jesus Christ you are in control. Only you can give your freedom away. People and our sin will constantly try to take it, but it’s not theirs to have. They have no power over you.

Over the past few years I have spoken to people who are in prison who by their actions have given away their freedom. For some of them, it all started harmless, and their actions had no legal consequences, but as their sin started to get a deeper grasp on them – they had to make sure it never revealed itself. They would have to do whatever it took to make sure they would remain ‘free.’ However, it would later lead them to making choices that would have legal consequences and they would be sent to prison. They lost the very freedom they fought so hard to protect. However, just because their physical freedom is gone, God is not done with them. For many of the people I have spoken with our conversations quickly turn to them telling me how they may not have physical freedom now, but they are free in Christ. They may be behind bars but their minds and their hearts are free because of the love of Jesus and how he is continually moving within them.

Because of the actions of Jesus Christ we are FREE!

That is why this tattoo was so important for me. It’s not just about having ink embedded into my skin. It is a daily reminder of how strong my God is. It is a daily reminder of the freedom I have in Christ. It is a reminder of when I allowed my freedom to be shattered by my sin and when I lost all hope – Jesus began to work within my heart. He began revealing the truth. That I AM FREE!

It’s a timeline of my healing with God. At the beginning the work of Jesus was unrecognizable. As the carpenter continued to work my brokenness – it started to take shape. As the images of the shards of brokenness started to form together – hope began to flood my life. The darkness was forced completely to retreat in fear. My mind became clearer. My mission became clearer. I know I am called to help people take flight and fly into the arms of God and no longer be held in captivity.

Jesus Christ loves you. I love you. You are not alone. No sin can denounce who you are as a child of God. You are worth a million bucks. No matter what enslaves you… you are in control with the Spirit of our Heavenly Father to reclaim your life.

So in your freedom – go and do great things.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” – Galatians 5:13

Freedom Tattoo Close-Up

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