In light of our country’s celebration of freedom, I’d like to share with you a time when I felt God’s greatest freedom. It may not be what you think. As a Christian from birth, this type of freedom is still playing a part in my life. With it came the lesson that just because you’ve laid something down, doesn’t mean other people have.
By the time I was fifteen, there had been three father figures in my life: my older brother’s father, my dad, and a short-lived step-dad. My mother was my constant, as was my older brother until he moved out to live his own life. God was too, but I had drawn away from Him in the year before. The distance between me and Him was really only enough that in later years I would look back and say I was starting to head down a path I wouldn’t have wanted to go down. I still praised and prayed but my heart had started to wander a bit. He was still my “Heavenly Father” but I felt He couldn’t fill the hole that only an earthly father could fill. That hole seemed to get bigger and bigger as I grew up.
At some point I recognized that my brother’s father treated me differently. I never went to visit him as my brother did and I don’t really remember him acknowledging me until I was older. Due to this, I asked my mom why he didn’t love me. I suppose it was at that point that I heard he wasn’t my father. I didn’t understand the hole that had started in me as I had my own dad. I knew my dad loved me, and I love him, but his tumultuous relationship with my brother was hard and left emotional scars that lasted into adulthood. My parents divorced when I was nine and a few years later my dad moved to back to his home state. That change meant I would only see him twice a year and the distance made the hole in me seem even bigger. The step-dad is barely worth mentioning. Suffice it to say that his short-lived presence only deepened my emotional scars. Is it any wonder that as I grew up I would have “daddy issues”? I don’t think so.
The pain and questioning from feeling unloved and unwanted came to a head when I was fifteen. In my search, I began to seek God more, to question Him more about my worth and if they didn’t love me then who could? The months of searching and questioning are honestly vague, but what isn’t is the night I laid it all down at God’s feet. All my questions and doubts, my feelings of loneliness and worthlessness, even the very struggle that I had over my paternity, I laid it down at God’s feet. I was face first on the floor of my bedroom sobbing my heart out to God, very ugly crying I might add, and I gave it all up to Him. The relief I felt when I stood up from that place was amazing. God had not only filled the hole in me, He closed it so completely that there was no scar. I could look that struggle in the face and not care. I could shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t need to have an earthly father because God is my Father.” I was completely free.
A year or so later, my brother came to me. He innocently asked me to open that hole back up, though I don’t think he knew that. My answer did not change. I don’t need an earthly father because God is my Father. I was unbothered by a request that before would have shaken me. I’m still unbothered by it because even now I feel the freedom that God gave me when He took the weight from my shoulders. Yes, some of those scars that were created still remain and yes, I’ve gained a few new scars since. I’m working on changing their effect on me. But that hole has not been there for a long time. It no longer keeps me up at night or makes me question things about myself. The truth of that freedom still remains.
If there is something in your life that feels like a heavy weight, that keeps you up, and makes you question yourself, I urge you to seek out God. Ask Him the questions you don’t dare ask anyone else, the questions no one can give you answers to. He will draw near to you. He will answer you. He will take that weight and give you freedom instead, and that freedom is like a breath of fresh air.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]Matthew 11:28 amp.