“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
II Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
When I thought of the phrase true freedom, I naively thought it meant that whatever I had been struggling with would miraculously be healed and I wouldn’t have to deal with that issue again. In the area of weight control, something I’ve struggled with my whole life, I thought true freedom meant getting to a healthy thought life with food and I’d be able to eat anything and everything and wouldn’t gain weight. I could have “freedom” like all the skinny people walking around (although I’d never thought to ask a “skinny” person what and how they did eat all day long). True freedom from anger would mean I might get angry, but I’d quickly replace those angry thoughts with loving thoughts and never would a bad word enter my mind, trying to escape through my mouth. Freedom from gossiping, jealousy, etc. would all look similar as well.
God has been taking me on a journey for quite a while, actually, but I’ve seen major growth this past summer that has continued into the fall. True freedom is a choice. It means choosing to walk the path God’s way, trusting that His way is best for my life and believing Him when He says there’s life and freedom on His path. For me, it means realizing that true freedom is living by God’s rules, the rules He put into place to bring me life, not to punish me or deny me fun.
I’ve cried out to God many times throughout the years and while I’ve had brief success occasionally, I knew I hadn’t obtained true freedom. The cravings were still there, I was just either replacing them with satisfaction from another source other than food or I was holding tightly to what little willpower I had, knowing if I took one bite of that “forbidden fruit” I would spiral downward faster than I could say, “donut.”
I honestly don’t know what made the difference this time, but I distinctly remember being broken as I was falling asleep one April night, telling God that if He would just tell me what He wanted me to do, even if I didn’t want to, I would obey if it meant freedom from this area of my life that invaded all others. I woke up eight hours later with a name, three words I hadn’t thought about in four years: “My Fitness Pal.” I resisted at first because it felt like bondage, but then slowly, slowly began the journey God invited me on, realizing what felt like bondage in the beginning was really the beginning of true freedom.
The “rules” didn’t change. I still logged in, counted my calories, tracked my exercise and recorded my weight occasionally, but my mindset is what was completely transformed. What I once saw as punishment and harsh rules, I now saw as my loving Father inviting me into really living, replacing my stronghold of food with a deeper reliance on Him.
The real transformation is taking place inside me while my outside appearance slowly changes as well. I ended a 40 day fast in August. Come back next time and see where God is leading me now. God doesn’t do things half way. When He brings freedom, He brings it full circle.
© 2016 Cheri Swalwell