Lately, especially in the last 5-6 months, I feel like this world has been increasingly stifling, almost as if it has wrapped its big, grimy hands around my neck and tried to choke me to death.
Yes, I know.
A bit disturbing and morbid, but it is truly how I have been feeling.
As a result, I have also been feeling an increasing need to break free from it.
These feelings and thoughts of trying to physically pry myself out of something were becoming more frequent, especially as I began having more conversations with others who continuously insisted on telling me that I had to have x, y, z, and do a, b and c in order to be relevant, fit in, or be comfortable.
As followers of Christ, we were never called to a comfortable life.
I began to realize that all of these impositions were labels–labels I had been expected to wear unconsciously for years.
They had become customs that were so tightly woven into the fabric of our society and identity that it was becoming hard to determine who really belonged to the Lord.
I had even become comfortable with some of these labels, as if they were my own and a part of my identity, when they weren’t.
Labels that unconsciously had been tacked on in an effort to box me in.
I shared my frustration and disdain with a close friend via text message about how I had been feeling and, as is her way, she asked me to explain. I simply told her that following the world and its customs were putting people, i.e. me, in more bondage instead of allowing us to live in the land of the free.
It was deception at its best.
As I drove down the road that day pondering this further, I realized I was not only feeling stifled, but I was a bit frustrated…and well, angry.
I was tired of church as usual.
I was tired of people saying that they were blessed or had arrived and yet, they weren’t living like it, by God’s standards, but instead by how the world defined it.
I was tired of people saying they were happy, content with themselves and living the best life when they were barely surviving and did not know Jesus for themselves.
It was literally choking the life out of people in general. If that weren’t enough, followers of Christ, in particular, were selling their souls to the enemy of this world. They were trading in their life of freedom purchased by the precious blood of Jesus in an effort to fulfill the latest crave and trends, all while desperately running with the crowd and following the patterns and behaviors of the day.
While some were really trying to crucify the flesh and die to self daily, others were repeatedly feeding the one thing that cannot and will not ever be satisfied–the flesh.
I was tired of having to field questions of why I was doing something a certain way, receiving unsolicited advice on what I should and shouldn’t be doing, telling me what I needed, what I should have and where I should be.
Frankly, I wanted to say,
“Hey, you can stop giving me advice because I answer to a King not of this world and I am rich in things that money can’t buy.”
As I thought about this ideal conversation in my head, I began to think about all the things that I was rich in (not by the world’s definition):
- I am in my right mind.
- I have good health.
- I have peace, even in the midst of the storm.
- I have joy (that this world didn’t give to me).
- I have eternal life. (John 3:16)
- I have new mercies every morning. (Lamentations 3:23)
And the best one of all…
7. I have Jesus.
I have an inheritance that was out of this world!
I was no longer interested in being labeled depressed. Jesus went to the cross for my healing. He said the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
I was no longer interested in being labeled old-fashoined, a prude, outdated and too deep because I had a desire to really live the Word I was professing and wait until marriage to have sex with my husband.
The truth is, as Paul so eloquently stated,
“Obviously I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” ~ Galatians 1:10
I decided I was no longer content to live with the label of being a Christian, yet not looking anything like Christ. I would rather be living a lifestyle that was pleasing to God rather than clinging to a label that was killing me, literally or figuratively, even if I had to walk alone.
Christ died so that I could live and I intended to do just that!
Check back next week as I address one of these labels that is killing us more in depth.
For now, talk to me.
What about you?
What labels have you placed on yourself or allowed others to place on you?
Are you more concerned about labels that you or others have placed on you and living up to those titles or are you more focused on living a lifestyle that is pleasing to the Lord?
What does this look like?
Scripture references: The Holy Bible (several translations)
Photo credit: Canva, Caique Silva@caiqueportraits, Memegenerator.net
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