Considering tomorrow is Independence Day, I thought this post would be (somewhat) fitting.

The first thing that comes to mind for most of us when we hear the word, “freedom” is AMERICA. Land of the FREE. Home of the brave. Let FREEDOM reign. Freedom is a funny thing here. We see freedom as a force that allows us to do whatever we want, whenever and however we want to do it. And if that’s your definition of freedom then, yes, you would be correct. But in the midst of freedom, I feel as if many of us still live in bondage. Although slavery most definitely still exists, I am talking about the oppression of our souls. The thing we think is bringing us freedom is actually keeping us in the bondage of fear, doubt, and confusion.

I say this, not to sound like a super churched out activist, but out of a deep personal conviction from my own heart. Growing up, I’ve always been told that I am free. I’ve been told that I live in the most well-off, blessed country in the whole world. And on top of that, Jesus paid a debt for me that I did not owe. He took the weight of sin with him on the cross. His grace was FREE. Since I had never known what it was like to be oppressed or hide out or live in fear, like other countries or cultures have experienced, how could I know that that is exactly what was happening to me? I was in denial. I was sheltered from a world that was hurting. But I had everything because I was free.

I don’t think we really understand what that word really means. There are several different meanings behind the word. For the sake of this post, here are just a few that I found on Google:
1. not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes.

2. not physically restrained, obstructed, or fixed; unimpeded.

3. given or available without charge.

4. release from captivity, confinement, or slavery.

The thing is, is that for those of who have grown up in pretty well-off homes and communities, we don’t really see the value of freedom. We are told that is what we are because we have never seen anything that isn’t free. We don’t really understand oppression or bondage because as a nation, we “have it all together”. Or at least we’re supposed to present ourselves that way. Deep within our souls, though, we carry a lot of burden that doesn’t seem to be as freeing as we’d like for it to be. So we cope with the comfortable instead of actually processing what our souls feel.

Here’s a personal example to shed some flesh on this concept. My entire life I’ve always felt like I needed to be like other people in order for people to like me. Whether that was adapting certain phrases, hair styles, or fashion in order to make it apart of me. I would idolize certain people or friendships in my head and strive to be just like that person because people like being around that person, so if I want people to like being around me, then I need to be like that person. Life was like this ALL THE TIME. I was never comfortable in my skin because I never felt like anyone really wanted to be around the real me. It was paralyzing. Every time I did anything with friends, I was on edge about whether or not these people actually wanted to be my friend. I wasn’t free in who I was. I never felt like I could be who I was because I was so wrapped up in what other people thought of me.

And then when I did act like more of myself, I never felt like I was fully accepted. I never felt heard or wanted. I felt like people always wanted to be around each other but never around me. Like if I wasn’t there it didn’t really matter because my presence made no difference. I never felt like people laughed at my humor or cared about me at all. I don’t know about you, but that does NOT sound like living in freedom.

Here’s what I’ve come to know: the way God made me is EXACTLY who I should be. If someone doesn’t think I’m funny, then that is their loss! As much as a group of friends and community are an important part of life, you can’t let others’ opinions of you dictate who you are. The desires in my heart are there for a reason, I should not have to suppress who I am just to fit a mold or a label or a certain type of person. I’ve always wanted to be Angela Gitschier: musician. But other times I wanted to be Angela Gitschier: teacher. Angela Gitschier: intern. Angela Gitschier: sports fan. When reality is, I’m just Angela Gitschier: human being. I’ve tried to embody all that is each of those descriptions, thinking I needed to fit that mold.  But it doesn’t work, I’m not those things. I am a collaboration of each of those things (and others too). I don’t just have to fill one role. I don’t have to feel guilty for liking so many different things.

And I don’t need to feel like I have to wear certain clothes to impress a certain group of people. I don’t need to feel like I have to like a certain music group in order for people to like me or think highly of me. I like what I like and I can’t let others change that. Being free in who I am is the greatest sense of peace I’ve felt in my 21 years of existence. For the first time in my life, I am truly loving myself. All my weird, stupid quirks. Praise the Lord for that. He has truly brought that upon my life.

That is true freedom. Letting go of the past and really dealing with the greater issues of the heart. I think definition number 4 from the above list is the perfect description of this type of freedom. Release from captivity, confinement, or slavery.

The biggest lie this nation tells us is that we are free when we’re really bound by so much inner bondage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that I am apart of a nation that fights for many of the freedoms we currently have. We could have it A LOT worse here, and a lot of amazing people have fought and died to protect our freedom.

But I think we are fooling ourselves if we think it ends there. Freedom is more than just being able to do what we want, when we want, and however we want to do it. I believe in the inner peace that freedom can really bring. Joy and contentment from the Spirit of God. It is possible to be a part of the freest nation on the planet and still be kept in bondage. We just need to acknowledge that we don’t really have it all together.

Where do you need to experience personal freedom? Where are you most held in bondage? This may take some thinking. I wouldn’t have said the answer that I explained above a year ago. The Lord really brought that upon me in the last 2 months or so. Think about the thing that you think you could never change about yourself and that is probably the area that you need freedom.

There is really nothing greater than that release from confinement.

Just for the heck of it,