This morning I found myself tweeting this message, “Friendship with Jesus Christ is the key to unlock every prison”. Then I went back to the task in front of me which was getting dressed and ready for the day.
I began to think that if friendship with Jesus is the key that unlocks all of my prison doors then friendship with me is the key to do the same for people who connect with me today and every day.
When I look at the story of my life, I can see that living as a person who can’t be held under lock and key anymore has been quite a learning process. I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t believe in God and all that my church taught about Jesus.
My struggle has always been with the pressure to behave in certain ways and to say or not say certain things in the course of relating to my world and my Christian community. And it wasn’t just about my conversation. There were things that a Christian shouldn’t and/or couldn’t do or places I couldn’t go because I was a Christian.
From an early age I took on a ton of guilt and shame because my heart and the real me didn’t match up with the behaviour that was expected of me by my church. So, like most of the kids in our church youth group I learned to hide who I really was in religious situations. Tragically I had no real grasp on the reality that I had an original voice that God had woven into the fabric of who I was… even as a child.
I had an incredibly supportive family and a great school system to explore and make the most of… but I hated myself because I couldn’t seem to find whatever it took on the inside of myself to measure up to my religion. The saddest part of those years is that I pretty much completely missed the amazing life I could have been enjoying. What if I could have found my real voice and been activated into a life of reflecting His image into my world by just being myself before my Creator?
So, I lived a lie. My high school experience was lived as two different people. One of them was a well behaved church (religious) kid and the other was what I understood to be the real me.
It wasn’t until I landed at a Christian college that I got real with God and myself. There are two things that I remember saying to God as I left home as a 17 year old to enroll in Bible College. The first was “God, I know this might just land me in hell, but if I can’t discover something real for me in following Jesus during this school year, then I am done with the Church and Christianity for good. I’m sure hell will be awful. But, if all there is to being a Christian is what I have been part of so far, forget it!”
And, the second conversation came about half way through that school year as I cried out to God through tears and from my heart, “God, whether you are glad about this or not, you are stuck with me, failures and everything, because of how much you have loved me and set me from through Jesus, you are gonna have to reject me to get rid of me!” And, he hasn’t sent me away yet 🙂
He has set me free from prisons in my emotions, my sense of self and my life purpose. I want to offer up this prayer:
Jesus, knowing you is the key to unlocking the door to every prison I might find myself in whether it’s one of my own making or imposed by someone else. Words can never express how grateful I am for what you have done by setting me free to actually live. But, I pray that you will fill me and express your heart through me so that people will find that knowing your Spirit through me is the key that unlocks the chains and the bars that hold them captive. Use me to help them find the key for themselves. Amen