pathway to freedom: no more shoulds and buts

I enjoy having someone like Casey Hayden write for this blog every now and then, because he can share things totally unique to what I’ve been sharing.  As much as I’d like to know what people want to read about and then write accordingly, it makes more sense for me to write from the reality of where my life is at present.  That’s what I enjoy most…putting into word the things I’m walking through, whether it encourages another now or maybe sometime down the road.  I’m an external processor, and this blog is a great avenue for that (and hopefully gives people in my life a break from my ranting in their ears).  :)

There’s been a theme in my writing, which you may have noticed…authenticity, freedom, healing…  This will probably continue, because God’s got me on this new pathway and I’ve got a ways to go.  The last 3 months have been some of the most significant in my life.
In the past 2 years, I went from living as a Christian missionary in the south of France, which I had decided would become long-term, to suffering  severe depression which landed me back in North Dakota.  God called me to be here… in the city I pledged to get away from…to live a simple life, working as a baker, so that he could walk with me through this season I never knew I needed.

This is a time of facing reality, seeing and mourning losses in my life, mourning the years I spent trying to be someone I wasn’t, learning to experience real grace, and being healed and freed, so that I might live.

A couple posts ago, entitled “I will do what I want,” I wrote that God cares about our motivations, and that it doesn’t do much good to do things for the wrong reasons (even seemingly “good” things).  Does this mean we shouldn’t do anything for God unless we always have the feeling or desire to?  No!  And that is not what I meant to communicate.  BUT (big but) this is where things can get messy…

How do we know if we are doing the right things out of obedience to God or for some other wrong reason?  This is where we really must do some self-examining and begin to discover the reasons and motives behind our choices.  Maybe ask yourself this question:  When I do not do _________, I feel __________.  For me, when I felt I wasn’t reading my bible enough, praying enough, praying more “beautiful” prayers, sharing Jesus more, spending more time with people, etc., I truly felt bad.  I hated having to tell someone I failed, because I believed I should be better.

should should should (shouldy should should….puke).  Do you speak this way with yourself?

Grace and should don’t work together.  God doesn’t say, “it is by grace you have been saved, BUT…”  or, “It is for freedom Christ has set you free, BUT…”

So I’ve been in this sort-of awkward time of allowing myself to take a break from some of things I thought were necessary for being a “good Christian.”  This is an important step in the pathway to healing.  It’s helped me to be able to process and face the lies I believed, which told me that I should live a certain way and then I’ll have value.  I can just sit, and be, and soak in grace…real grace.  Grace says I don’t have to try to measure up, because Christ did.  Grace says my being, not my doing, gives me value.

But what’s even crazier, is that I can tell that this freedom…this freedom that comes from grace, is slowly moving me towards the things of God…desiring time with him, loving others, allowing Him to use me.  But never because God is “shoulding” me, but because I can do these things in freedom… for the One who gave me freedom and loves me immensely.  Because throughout this journey of being healed, I’ll better discover who I truly am.  Then… I can spend time with Him, love others, and live in the unique way He’s created for me…and I’ll love it.

Thoughts?  Does any of this resonate?

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