Category Archives: freedom

God’s truth freed me from a phobia

On our life journey we gather wounds that remain raw and patterns of relating that can keep causing problems. At least I have!

Thankfully, God helps us find release from that which binds and hinders us. A class begins this week at Trissels (Tues. evenings at 7pm), exploring ways God does this. I’ll recount one way I experienced this.

I’m by nature anxious and slow at forming words. In junior high a speaking phobia arose out of that: as a sentence was shaping in my mind, if it struck me that I may not be able to say one of the words then I literally could not vocalize it. This lessened as I became a young adult. Then as my first church loved me, and especially as Karen loved me, my anxiety and the phobia further calmed.

Then I was chosen to represent a group of churches at a denominational meeting in Denver, and my anxiety level began to surge again. Would I function well and be effective? In my devotional time the week before the meeting I came upon Paul’s account of his “thorn.” God’s message to him became an incredible promise to me: God could do whatever needed to be done even if I was weak and inarticulate. Somehow God’s power even becomes more perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12). I memorized the passage and would say it whenever anxiety hit. And I was pretty well anxiety-free the whole time of the meeting — you don’t worry about something if it doesn’t matter if you have it or not!

I realized that all my life as I was, on the conscious level, telling myself to relax and trust God, I was on the subconscious level telling myself the exact opposite: “You better not relax since you need to pull off some impressive articulate speech in this situation.” And I knew I might fail, so fear mushroomed. But then, hallelujah, the truth of God’s Word freed me from the lie that was fueling my phobia: if I’m not articulate and intelligent enough to do something, that’s God’s problem–I can only do what I can!

Following Jesus frees us

We in America enjoy much freedom. People all over the world choose to live here because we enjoy much freedom from external forces that hinder us. We have economic opportunity. We have freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion.

But that catalog of freedoms misses the most crucial ones. There is more to “freedom” than freedom from forces outside ourselves. Inner forces can bind us as much or even more.

Insecurity walls us behind masks, forbidding us to be honest about weaknesses and failings. Fear that we’re “no good” may drive us to constantly feel pressure to over-achieve to reassure the world and ourselves that we indeed do have value; or it may engulf us in depression and unwillingness to take even the risks needed for everyday living.

In Jesus we find liberation from such insecurities. He communicates unconditional acceptance and forgiveness in the face of evil we have done. We can let down our masks and be real and be healed. We don’t have to earn his favor by doing good things–he gives it freely as we came to him.

Another inner force imprisoning many in our pleasure-crazed society is a compulsion to satisfy one’s appetites. The goal of experiencing ever new and more powerful pleasures fuels destructive behavior and keeps us restless as we continually upgrade entertainment systems and wardrobes.

A commitment to follow Jesus frees us. Jesus knows what is best for us, so his instructions will not hinder us from tapping our fullest potential. And he knows what is best for the whole world; so our every act of obedience to him will create beauty in the world too.

We are not as free as we can be if we only live in America and are not also discovering the inner rest and hope in interacting with Jesus!