Freedom is defined as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
To set at liberty.
(NIV Life Application Study Bible)
One year ago today, I was seeking freedom. Desperate to escape from a lifetime of hurts, I attempted to take my own life. If you haven’t read my story about that February day, please take the time to read it here and then come back.
Now that you’re all caught up, let’s talk about freedom.
Last year, I thought ending my life would bring me the freedom I desired. The depression I have suffered my whole life, the nightmares that still plague my sleep, the memories and flashbacks of pain and abuse, would all be gone. I had no doubt that God would understand and welcome me home. I would finally be free.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
When my plans failed, I faced a cruel reality that any freedom I had would soon be gone as well. I ended up spending three days in a mental hospital, for my own safety of course. Having never been in an actual prison, I can only imagine I had less freedoms than those behind bars. Everything, and I mean everything, was taken away from me. Physically, I had nothing. I also had no rights. All of the freedoms we enjoy daily, were stripped away. I had to ask permission to do anything and even those things were very limited.
I had to ask to use the restroom or take a shower.
I had to wait for someone to unlock the restroom door.
I had to ask for a pen and paper.
I was given the guts of a pen.
I had to ask to make a phone call.
I had to eat when they said eat.
I had to eat even if I didn’t want to.
I had to sleep when they said sleep, even if I couldn’t sleep.
There was no internet (no quick answers on Google, no Facebook, no emails…okay, maybe there was freedom with that, LOL!), no freedom to watch whatever I wanted on the one small television in the group room, no freedom to listen to the radio or any music, no freedom to call whomever I wanted, whenever I wanted, no freedom to wear what clothes I wanted, no freedom to read what I wanted, no freedom to view outside of those walls. It would be days before I would see the sun again.
Freedom as I knew it was no longer. Freedom as I had desired did not come. But that night, February 21st, 2015, I found a new kind of freedom…freedom like nothing I’d ever imagined.
Through the most difficult night of my life, I felt more alone than ever, and yet, I was never alone. I have never felt a greater embrace of comfort and peace than I felt that night. It was like God himself was sitting there next to me with His arms wrapped gently around me as I poured my heart out to Him. I cried for hours that night. I thought of my family at home. I thought of what mattered to me – God, my church family, my husband and children, writing, and teaching. It became undeniably clear that night, those were the things I needed to focus on. Those were the things that could bring life back into my empty heart.
As I sat there in that little room of four walls and a cot, I held tight to the words God had placed in my heart just days before…
“I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17
And the words from the song “Shoulders” by For King and Country played over and over in my mind…
“…My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
God had planted those words in my heart and mind in the weeks leading up to my suicide attempt. I feel sure it was His was of preparing me for that night. That verse and those lyrics were exactly what I needed. When nothing else mattered, when everything else was gone, taken away. When freedom no longer made sense, He provided everything I needed.
This past year has been nothing less than amazing. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some incredibly difficult times and I imagine there always will be.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The difference since that night is assurance. I have no doubt God met me there. I have no doubt God is with me. I have no fear of anything this world can throw my way because I know that no matter how dark my world gets, no matter what is taken from me, no matter what is done to me, God will carry me through. All I have to do is let Him.
“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6
That night, God set me free. I have been His for as long as I can remember but there have been times, I have ran from Him, feeling so broken and so unworthy. The truth is, I am worthy because I am His.
The freedom I found was…
The freedom to trust Him and others.
The freedom to let go of myself and let God lead the way.
The freedom to believe in tomorrow.
The freedom to let my heart heal.
The freedom to understand and accept God’s grace.
The freedom to allow others to love me.
The freedom to move forward, unashamed.
The freedom to see the beauty in the broken.
The freedom to rejoice in my sufferings.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:1-5
You see, I do rejoice. I would not trade the choice I made for anything. That choice led me straight into a prison, more trapped than I’d ever felt and yet that choice led me to a freedom greater than anything I could have ever imagined.
“You have freed me from my chains.” Psalm 116:16b
For months, I thought out, planned, and prepared to say goodbye. For months, I waited patiently for the right time. The truth is, there was never a right time for my plan, but what played out was His perfect plan. Through my own chaos and darkness, He met me. He held me. He comforted me. He poured His grace over me. He accepted me. He loved me.
I admit, before that night, I still doubted and wondered if He could truly love me. That night, He freed me from those doubts. He left me with full assurance that I am His and nothing can ever take that away.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Life isn’t magically okay.
I am still just an imperfect girl living in a broken world. I still suffer with depression. I still have moments where those thoughts of suicide creep into my mind. I still have days when I don’t want to get out of bed. I still worry that I am too much trouble for those who love me. I still feel so very inadequate to be a child of God and to be loved by Him. And that’s okay…because through it all, He constantly reminds me that He’s not going to abandon me. He’s teaching me His truth. He’s shown me that He will prepare me, that He will make a way, that He is using me because He chooses me. I think I’m good with that! (…more like very grateful and honored that He’d choose a mess like me!)
Truth is…He gave me the best gift that night. He gave me the freedom to believe I am His. I am His imperfect princess…perfectly imperfect.
Don’t be sad for me.
Don’t pray away my depression or those thoughts.
Rejoice with me in the freedom I have been given. Those things that hurt and sting…they keep me close to Him. If we didn’t face trials, hurt, pain, sorrows, grief, loss, and more, we wouldn’t need Him. I want to need Him with every breath I take and if that means walking through a fire the rest of my life, then so be it. I’ll walk through the fire, just to be with Him.
People said I should have at least gotten sick when I attempted to take my own life. I didn’t. Not dizzy, not nauseous, not confused, not sick…nothing. NOTHING. What I got…was FREEDOM! To God be the Glory!
Above, I shared Psalm 118:17. I will proclaim what He has done! He has set me free!
I pray you don’t have to meet Him in the darkest, lowest, most desperate place…but even if that’s where He meets you, rejoice that you are His!
You are worthy.
You are loved.
You are enough.
You are His.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
It is well…with my soul.
“It Is Well With My Soul” – Matt Redman
Our scars are a sign of grace in our lives,
And Father how you brought us through
When deep were the wounds and dark was the
Night the promise of Your love You proved.
Now every battle still to come let this be our song.
It is well, (it is well)
with my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul…”