Sixteen miles. That’s what a friend of mine had just finished running. He is an inspiration to me and I have thought about getting back into running. That is, right up until I realized how far 16 miles actually is. That’s my daily commute. Forget it, I’m not running; there is no way I can run 16 miles.
We are guilty of the same thing when it comes to viewing freedom. We can look at the end result and think we have to get there tomorrow- but we don’t.
We think, “Porn free? Tomorrow? Forever? Oh no, I can’t do that. There is no way that is possible. Why even try?”
We adopt this mindset that freedom means that tomorrow morning, we must get up and be without temptation, without failure, without pain and full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc. We think that the moment we decide to start this journey we have to be able to run 16 miles. We won’t because we can’t, and when we don’t, we feel like we are a failure.
I haven’t run steadily since I ran Jr. High track, nearly 15 years ago. If I got up tomorrow morning, desiring to take up running again, and tried to run 16 miles, I would probably die. In a few months, could I run 16 miles? Maybe, but not tomorrow. In fact, I don’t even know if I could run tomorrow. Maybe all I could do is walk, and maybe not far.
Even though walking isn’t running, even though 16 minutes is nothing close to 16 miles, isn’t it better than doing nothing?
That’s what freedom is like. Yes, our victory has been won through the redemptive work of Christ, but we haven’t been walking in that victory. We have been walking in bondage. We have to learn what it means to walk in that victory again, and it is going to take time.
Give yourself that time.
On occasion, I will get an e-mail that says, “I want the joy and freedom you have.” Wrong goal. Our goal in freedom is not a person or a freedom that looks like theirs. Our goal in freedom is Christ.
Your freedom won’t look like Christ in me; it will look like Christ in you.
Our goal is the same: to live lives of purity that honor and glorify God. We want to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths, and we would prefer those be untainted by the effects of pornography and lust. The goal is the same; God is the same. We, however, are different.
I have friends who come from a similar background as I. Stick all of us in a room and our freedom will look different. There are a lot of factors that play into what a person’s freedom looks like, just like there are a lot of factors that play in to a person’s ability to run. If you are not a naturally outgoing psychotically vibrant person, do not add ‘psycho overflow of joy’ to your evidence of freedom.
Don’t look at the life of the party and think, “I’m not free until I am like that.” Is joy a fruit of the Spirit? Yes, but joy looks different for us too. Some women have a very quiet heart of joy. Some women have a spirit of joy and others- well, you need a cup of coffee before you can deal with them in the morning.
I think, sometimes, we’re guilty of looking at freedom as a goal instead of a process. We put a marker on it and say, “When I get to _this_ point. When I go 400 days without porn, when I give to the homeless, when I start a blog, when I can get married, when I do _whatever_, then I will know I am free.” No. You are free now, you just have to walk in that freedom and keep your eyes on Him, not an endpoint.
I will be honest, the freedom I thought I would have is different than the freedom I have.
I actually did not really understand my freedom until I looked back over my journey. I measure my progress in this journey by looking back at the wounds I once knew. How am I reacting to them? How do I view myself? Am I seeing myself more like God sees me? Am I seeing others the way God sees them?
There has been growth and maturity in my faith and in understanding. I can never forget about what happened to me; about the things I have done, and part of my freedom is accepting those and offering them to God to do something with them.
I thought ‘freedom’ would remove those scars, but it hasn’t. I thought freedom would remove the struggle, but it hasn’t done that either. Freedom, for me, has been surrendering to God in the middle of that struggle. Freedom, for me, has really just been about living the Christian life. As you pursue the heart of God, He takes care of what does not belong in your own heart.
Your freedom is about God healing the wounds in your life, patching up holes in your heart, mending brokenness in your spirit. It is about letting Him break the chains in your life, letting Him affirm your worth, and revolutionize your life. Your freedom is about You worshiping God with whatever gifts and abilities He has given you. It is about being the person He has created you to be, and you aren’t me.
You aren’t the woman next to you in church. You are you, with your own distinct personality. Your process is yours, with its own unique progression. Understand that, don’t be afraid of it, quit comparing yourself to others, and start walking in freedom. That choice is yours. Maybe your goal for today is to spend 15 minutes in His Word- that’s fine. Don’t look at someone else’s 45 minutes and feel inadequate. Remember, walking may not be running, and 16 minutes may not be 16 miles, but walking 16 minutes is better than nothing.