I left Canada seven years ago to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) in England. I went because I wanted to grow more in my relationship with Jesus, learn more about God, and learn how to live out my faith. I learned so many things during this time, but one of the most transformative was the freedom that Jesus is inviting us to be a part of. The freedom to be who we are and the freedom to be how God created us. I walked away with confidence in my identity, that I was God’s daughter.
Shortly after my DTS, my dad passed away very unexpectedly. It was a complete shock to me and my family. Worry held my hand frequently during this season of trying to grasp this new reality without my dad. An unexpected death brings up a lot of emotions. It was a sudden and abrupt picture that life is too short. Something shifted in me, a combination of grief, fear, and worry captured my heart. Two weeks after my dad passed, I moved to Wales. It was a strange and surreal experience knowing that my dad was no longer alive and being so far away from the familiar. No matter where I was in the world, I had to come to terms with my dad not being around anymore.
I was in this grief bubble for a few years, the first year being the worst. Gradually I poked my head out to see what was happening around me and would feel some normalcy again until something reminded me of my dad. During this time I feel like I lost myself because I allowed grief, worry, and fear to come into my life. I didn’t knowingly say, “Yes, I want these things to be a part of my life,” but slowly through this grieving process it became normal for me to lean into worry instead of leaning on God.
My mind was hazy and disoriented, trying to understand why this happened to me, and I still have no answers as to exactly why this happened. There was a time when I blamed God for what happened to my dad. How could God, a loving father take away my father? Not knowing who I was anymore, I felt confused.
When any of us go through something traumatic, it is understandable that something happens to us. We change and need to adapt to our new reality, otherwise we get swallowed up in our pain. Of course we need time to grieve what was, but that is not how God created us to be and live. He does not want us to be stuck in the fear, worry, pain, or grief.
So how can we get out of fear and pain to this place of living out of joy and freedom?
There are many different reasons why we don’t walk out in freedom in who we are: fear of man, worry, comparison, ego, comfort zones, resentment, guilt, shame, expectations, feeling unworthy, unforgiveness, and more. Many of these things are comfortable to us because we may have been living with worry for most of our lives and we don’t know what it’s like to live freely. We can choose to stay in this way of living or we can choose to change. Change is scary, especially when it’s dealing with identity and walking out in freedom. It is brave when you choose to step out and say, “I am not going to live with this anymore in my life, but I am going to choose to live how God created me to be and live in freedom from this.” This is your choice. It is your choice to say, “Yes, I want to keep living with worry,” or say, “No, I don’t want to live like this anymore.” God is not going to push you to do anything, He might poke you and encourage you along the way and that’s because He only wants the absolute best for you!
It took me a long time to understand who I was. I have done personality tests like Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder, and love languages, which is useful to know how I operate with others, but no personality test can tell you who you are. I was still struggling to not just know my true self, but know how to walk that out every day. Allowing worry into my heart caused me to fret about what others thought of me. It affected how I would act, talk, what I would wear, and what I would say yes to. I was living with anxiety and allowing it to control my life. Even though God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are a part of my everyday life, choosing to let anxiety control my life felt easy, but living with this constant anxiety felt paralyzing.
During my time in Wales, I experienced healing. Something that God has been speaking to me since my dad passed away has been about joy and him as a father. God was reminding me that I am a woman of joy. I have felt the exact opposite since my dad’s passing, and yet He would remind me of this over and over. God was rebuilding my image of God as a father to me. He would fill and heal the empty space my father had left behind. He taught me that I can rely on Him with all of my needs and that I would not be in lack. In this journey I also found friends and people who cared about me, even through my grief and mess. If people around me don’t run away from my garbage then how much more does God love me and see me for who I really am. God sees you for who you are and loves you. You don’t have to hide your mess from God, release it to him and let him love you.
Unfortunately, healing is not always straightforward. Three months into marriage my husband and I moved to Norway and everything felt like it came crumbling down again. The transition was rough and anxiety came flooding back. Coming to Norway was difficult, especially as I had no idea what the place would be like. We moved to a farm, and this was completely unexpected. We were unprepared and thrown right into a busy schedule in Norway, without having time to settle.
Nevertheless, I knew God had a plan for us being here. God was reminding me once more of who I was, and who he was. Since coming to Norway, God has been speaking about freedom to me. To live out who I am without worry. Last spring this finally clicked. I walked out of the barn (our meeting place) from a worship session and had this deep feeling that I was free. Free to be who God created me to be. I was not praying about it or thinking about it, but something shifted in my heart and my mind, knowing that I could live out who I was in full freedom. Years of feeling unsettled and struggling to know who I was all came to a halt. I just knew that I was God’s daughter and that I could live out who I was with no anxiety. It’s something I still have to choose to believe, but this was a defining moment.
I have been on this journey for over seven years and now I am just starting to really live out the way God created me to be. All throughout these years I would pray that I would get back to who I once was, that girl who felt invincible and alive, willing to do anything for Jesus. Of course, I won’t be that same girl again, I have changed. I had to understand that this different version of myself was not bad, worse, or unworthy. It has been a slow process of understanding this truth that I am still who God created me to be. There are days that it comes naturally to walk out my identity, freedom to be who I am with no judgement. Other days are harder. But the moments that I truly act how God created me, it blesses the people around me, God, and myself. When we see someone beautifully being themselves, it is contagious! We want to be like that too because we are meant to live out in freedom. But this can only come from Jesus. He is the one who knit you in your mother’s womb, who created you in His own image. He created us all differently, all with different gifts, passions, and strengths, yet we are all created in his image. Maybe that is why when we see someone being how God created them to be it inspires us to get to that place.
When we walk out who we are, we are living in freedom. We are bringing God’s image to each other, and to the world; being a piece of heaven on earth.
If you want to learn more about living out how God created you and living in freedom, consider doing a DTS! Read more about it here.