Since I began my relationship with God at a young age, there have been times over the years that I’ve struggled with the fact that I didn’t have a radical life-change story to inspire others. I’ve walked with God as faithfully as I’ve known how since I was just five years old. God blessed my life throughout my childhood and early adult life in such a way that I didn’t experience any major tragedies. I did experience loss, challenges, and heartache, but nothing that left me reeling for long.
I spent many years as an adult trying to be the best Christian I could be because of my sincere love for God. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only motivation of my heart. I wanted to prove myself worthy of God’s love to God, myself, and others. I sincerely tried to live life as a poster child for living the respectable but average Christian girl life. I didn’t have to have a “wow” story to be a successful Christian.
That might be true, but I’ve come to realize that I was also attempting to settle for a life in spiritual bondage. The hard times started coming a couple of years ago. Not with one huge life-changing ordeal that made everyone around me to stop and take notice, but with the steady flow of transitions that come in everyone’s life over time. My more recent years have been filled with good changes as well as traumatic ones. From career changes for my husband to the death of a parent, having a baby to transitioning into having a child in school, being a full-time stay-at-home mom to working part time, being church homeless after feeling the crippling sting of gossip and betrayal to learning the process of putting elderly family members into a nursing home. It’s been the culmination of all of these experiences that has made me a changed woman.
God didn’t see fit to make that radical transformation I heard people talk about when I was young until this season of my life. The noticeable change came when I went on a quest for spiritual freedom. I was tired of fighting the spiritual battles that came with each new challenge without ultimately winning for good. I was exhausted, discouraged, and defeated.
I reached a point when, no matter how hard I had tried to handle each circumstance with grace and faith, I felt myself drowning in bondage. I knew I was in a pit of despair in spite of my desire to stay strong. I had done all of the “right things,” yet I could no longer take the pressure.
I immersed myself in Bible studies and conversations that helped me work through my life in the light of scripture. I began comprehending what it truly means to be free. Then I learned a new lesson about intentionally living in freedom: you become infinitely more aware of issues that you used to be oblivious to when you were cloaked in bondage.
And that’s when my body hit reboot.
At least that’s the best description my doctor could give me. I became physically ill; my body was completely out of whack, and after multiple tests, we were able to determine that everything appears to be normal. It’s hard to complain about that kind of diagnosis, but sometimes I think we almost want there to be something at least a little “wrong” with us so we don’t feel quite so crazy. At least that’s the point I reached in my weakened state. After weeks of pain and shedding weight in an unpleasant way, I kept waiting for one of those medical tests to say, “Here’s your problem!”
Instead, I sat with the doctor and talked through some of what I’ve been going through as we eliminated each medical condition that could be the culprit. He kindly encouraged me to let go of what was stressing me out. Then he used the phrase word “reboot” to describe what has been going on with my body. He was right. I have been going through one long, painful reboot physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It was time to embrace that I am changed, and, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I needed to accept two things.
- It is time for me to adopt a diet that is more about keeping me healthy instead of one that is convenient and makes me feel good.
- Living a life of freedom requires accepting that God is in control even if I don’t get the changes, answers, or results I was hoping for.
I certainly wouldn’t have picked the method that God used to change me, but the important thing for me to remember is that He has changed me. Phrases like “being made new” sound so pretty as lyrics to a song, but the actual act of being made new is more painful than the original versions of ourselves can handle. That’s kind of the point. We aren’t meant to stay the same when Christ is alive in us. We must be made new, no matter how much it hurts. That’s when we will actually stop living for ourselves or with the weight of trying to prove ourselves. That’s when we will truly comprehend the wonder and power of God’s grace. It’s only when we’ve reached the end of the hope we’ve built ourselves in the form of the way we wanted to live our lives that we actually look to the eternal hope of life beyond this earth.
The eternal perspective I’ve gained in the last couple of years has been worth every tear, heartache, and comfort lost because now I know that life is not all about what I want. It’s about the hope I have invested in my future with God. I’ve learned that it’s not about me proving anything to anyone. God doesn’t love me more or less based on what I have or haven’t accomplished. I still may not have a “wow” story, but I do know that living in freedom is God’s purpose for me as well as for you, no matter what story has shaped us up to this point.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
I’m Kelly West, wife to a fire fighter and mom to a sweet and lively son and delightfully spunky daughter. I enjoy baking, writing, reading, having long talks with friends, and living life with my sweet family. I’m also quite fond of chocolate and coffee. I’ve known about Jesus my whole life, but each year I learn more how much I love Him and value His grace and our ever-growing relationship. He truly is so good – in the big things, the difficult things, and the exceptionally average things. I’d love to get to know you better! You can connect with me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), my blog, Twitter, or Facebook