There is a story about a goldfish that lived in a glass bowl. He lived his entire life bumping into a glass divider and was unable to cross to the other side. One day the divider was removed, but he refused to change his patterns because he could no longer imagine what it would be like to cross over to the other side. This gold fish was free to do something he had always wanted to do, but he had tried so many times and failed that he didn’t realize he had his freedom.
Many ACONs find themselves in a similar situation. We’ve had our chains taken off and now we are free to run, but we often forget how to move. We’ve all been given a basket of lemons and it’s up to us what we do with it. When our souls are parched and thirsty, we sometimes forget we’ve also been given a knife and some ice and we are free to make lemonade on a hot day. Through the years I have discovered there are at least four types of freedom.
The people who once controlled us physically no longer tower over us and they have no more power over our physical bodies. We are now free from pinching, hitting, belting, going to bed without supper and all other forms of physical abuse.
No longer are we told what to wear or not wear and where to go or not go. We celebrate the fact that we are no longer under forced labor. We are no longer forced to work and please another and give them our earnings to meet their narcissistic feed. We can associate with whomever we want and we can live our lives however we like. Despite our abuser’s religion, Jesus has more freedom for us than they ever permitted. We no longer need to endure imprisonment or isolation—the gates are wide open and we can walk free as we choose.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.
– Isaiah 61:1
As we recognized how lies once controlled us, we discovered a great freedom. When we became seekers of truth, we stepped out of the land of denial and it changed our lives forever. The truth really does set us free.
Now we realize we can start over again, we can make new choices, we can learn new patterns. We are not forced to spend time with people simply because we have the same blood. We have the right to keep those relationships that are honest and respectful. Our friends have become the family we choose.
We are also free from lies about God. No one can scare us when we realize there is no everlasting hell. God is not waiting to punish us, but loves us in spite of our mistakes. Nothing can separate us from His love—unless we choose to walk away from him forever.
And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.
We have freedom from fear because we have discovered love. We are no longer beaten children cowering in a corner. We also realize we are not responsible for the feelings of others. It’s empowering to realize we have a right to our own feelings—that feelings are neither right nor wrong—they are simply information.
When others try to shame us for not meeting their standards, we are no longer slaves to their expectations. We can give the shame right back to them because we have no room in our lives for shame. We recognize shame comes from the enemy and we can walk away from anyone who uses it against us.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and a sound mind.
-2 Timothy 1:7
Our greatest freedom is to believe or not believe, to worship or not worship. We are free to celebrate God in whatever ways inspire and fulfill us. We have the freedom to express our beliefs whether others approve of us or not. We are unshackled by the expectations, rules, standards and conspiracy theories of others. We’ve been given freedom as a birthrite by the God who designed us to live as unique individuals. God has set us free to become our true selves.
As we realize these freedoms through the different stages of our lives, sometimes we recognize one more than others. The biggest lie we received from our parents was that they owned us and some parents want us to believe we are still responsible to them for how we live our lives, but nothing could be further from the truth. So some of us will see family this weekend, others have realized there is no relationship there because our family is full of lies and disrespect. Either way, we have the freedom to make a good life so let’s go out, look through those lemons and make some lemonade.
Now the Lord is that Spirit:
and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
-2 Cor. 3:17