Freedom – a lifestyle I’ve always wanted to truly embrace and live, but for years, I suffered from severe anxiety. I had seen God do amazing things in my life, yet when trouble would strike, I’d suddenly find myself in a state of torment. I constantly looked for the next thing to worry about. Even the smallest tasks in my day-to-day life were tedious and exhausting. The “what ifs” plagued me every moment of every day. There seemed to be no escape; I was enslaved to anxiety. Can you relate?
But in 2018, that ALL changed when God broke my chains, and I was made new. I found freedom from anxiety by embracing the answers to three simple questions:
- WHO IS GOD?
- WHO AM I?
- WHO IS MY ENEMY?
As you may have noticed, all three questions have to do with identity: God’s, Mine, the Enemy’s. Last year, God started to show me anxiety is linked to identity. If we have a wrong perception about ANY of these questions, it can lead to a lifestyle of FEAR, but, if we set the record straight, we can live a lifestyle of FREEDOM.
WHO IS GOD?
God is the creator of the universe. Our Father literally spoke it into existence. He is ALL POWERFUL. He is ALL KNOWING. He is SOVERIGN. He is MIGHTY, JUST, and WORTHY of endless praise.
The anxiety I suffered from often stemmed from the sense of condemnation and shame I felt when I thought about how God viewed me. As I prayed to him, I would feel in my heart that God was disappointed with me. My failures and weaknesses were always at the forefront of my mind. I felt as though I was somehow always letting him down and thus preventing His glory from shining through me.
According to Romans 8, there is no condemnation that can come against me if I belong to Christ. You see, the truth is God does not look at me and see my shortcomings. The cost of my past, present, and future sins were bought and paid for by Jesus on the day He was crucified. God’s love for me is unconditional and everlasting. Neither His glory nor His acceptance of me is contingent on my actions. He is my provider and my strength.
My journey to finding freedom began the moment I discovered God’s true identity and His actual perception of me.
WHO AM I?
Who am I? Like an angsty teen, I have often found myself asking this question. Some of the labels I wear are positive.
I AM a teacher.
I AM a sister.
I AM a daughter.
I AM a coffee lover.
Other labels tossed in my direction aren’t so warm and inviting.
YOU ARE a failure.
YOU ARE unloved.
YOU ARE unforgiven.
YOU ARE unprotected.
For years I embraced these negative labels. Like seeds, I planted them in my mind and heart. As a result, I reaped a harvest of condemnation and anxiety.
One of the most freeing moments in my journey came when I learned to embrace the truth of who I AM IN CHRIST. The fact is, it does NOT matter what other people think of me or how many times I have failed at something. The only thing that matters is what God thinks of me. I can find these God-given labels in the pages of the Bible. To name a few…
I AM A CONQUEROR, (Romans 8:37)
I AM LOVED, (Jeremiah 33:3)
I AM RIGHTEOUS,(Romans 5:1)
I AM REDEEMED, (Romans 3:24)
I AM PROTECTED, (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
I AM PROVIDED FOR, (Philippians 4:19)
WHO IS MY ENEMY?
Despite how they are portrayed in cartoons, Satan and God are NOT equals. They aren’t sitting on my opposite shoulders battling it out. NOPE! Satan is a created being. Like all of creation, he is under God’s authority. In the end, Satan and his hoard of demons will be thrown into the burning pit of Hell. As a Christian, I am righteous and redeemed through Christ. I will spend eternity with God in paradise. There is nothing that the enemy can do about his own destiny or mine. To say he is bitter about it would be an understatement.
1 Peter 5 says that “Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” The enemy wants to keep me discouraged, stressed, and blinded to the truth of my true God-given identity. He is sneaky and clever. Like an expert archer, he knows exactly where to shoot his flaming thought arrows of deceit.
Let’s not get it twisted though, the punk may be sly like a fox, but Satan is nothing more than a chihuahua on a leash. His power is limited, and I AM NOT a defenseless baby bird. I AM THE DAUGHTER OF THE ONE TRUE LIVING GOD! The Holy Spirit is in me, and through Him, I have authority over Satan and his pack of mangy mutts. I have the power to overcome every flaming arrow that is thrown in my direction, including the pervasive “what if…” scenarios that cause so much unnecessary strife. I accomplish this victory when I fortify my mind by taking captive every thought from the enemy and by obliterating them with GOD’s TRUTH!
One of Satan’s greatest victories is successfully convincing believers that they have no power over anxiety. I found complete freedom from this lie when I recalibrated my understanding of the identities of God, myself, and my enemy..
Freedom – a lifestyle I’ve always wanted to truly embrace and live, but now, I actually know how to achieve it.
Stacey Patterson teaches third grade at a public school in the great state of North Carolina. She has a heart for education and working with people who have learning differences. Recently, the Lord has ignited a passion within her for telling others of the gift of freedom that she has found through Christ. Stacey gets to share this life-changing truth with others through a weekly Bible study she leads at a local women’s recovery center. She also loves to travel to new places, spend time with her family, and serve at her local church.