Laying Things Down & Finding Freedom

Unpacking your baggage

“She called it baggage. “You’re scared to open your suitcases and see what your mother packed.” ~A.S. King

  

Each painful moment in our life should lead to some kind of breakthrough. Most of the time we give up right before our life-changing breakthrough happens. Why? Because this is when it hurts the most. 

Somewhere over time, tattered places, and rifts in who I was hoping to “become” I realized I was holding on to traits, fears, and conditions passed down to me. Starting in my teenage years and into my early twenties, I had learned how to adapt, almost morph somewhat into whoever the person standing in front of me wanted to see. I became a girl jumping through hoops hoping to earn love based on performance. If I jumped high enough, if I was good enough, everyone would be happy. I had realistic fears, the data and statistics predicted that my future would mirror the familiarity of brokenness. I would become someone unable to hold onto a relationship, unable to hold on to hope, numbing my pain while pretending that I was okay. But, I looked around and viewed something that did not have to be my reality; or my identity, and yet I was tethered to mistakes I had not made. I was carrying someone else’s broken baggage.

I had a decision to make, freedom would look a lot like changing my mindset to mirror the promises of God. The Holy Spirit will always be more powerful than the moments that try to break us.

My need for approval followed me into my early years of ministry, isn’t the minister’s wife supposed to have it all together even at twenty-two? Um, no. She needs room to grow and stretch like every other twenty-two-year-old. I had so many eyes watching me so I went to war with the sloppy perfectionist inside of me. I still needed to know that I was enough, even the messy parts of me.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to lay down the baggage that didn’t belong to me, to walk uncharted territories towards wholeness in God. This is a choice. Freedom is ours for the taking but, sisters, we have to work for it. 

 

Deep within the tattered places within me, a blazing hope consumed my timid, insecure heart. I believed that somehow God could use a girl who didn’t have it all together. To move forward, I needed to lay a few things down.

 

My inner craving for approval and belonging had become my baggage weighing me down. It became a mask to hide behind, a chain around my heart, crippling the gifts that God had placed inside. But He came to set me free, not part of the way- just barely getting by free, but free indeed. His freedom is so sweet, so satisfying and paid for, no jumping through hoops required. You just open your hands and heart and receive the gift He wants so much for you to have.

I learned that “almost free” wasn’t freedom at all. It was a trick the enemy uses to hold us captive by a counterfeit freedom that leaves us soul starved.

Our worth and value does not have to be tied to the bottomless pit of people pleasing. We don’t have to throw away our confidence or dumpster dive for the blessings of others.

 

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”(Heb 10:35 NIV)

 

A few years ago I felt slapped with an approval rating, it was a pretty low score, actually, and it hurt. It really did. A decade ago I might have spiraled in a pit of depression and accepted this “low score” but somehow growing up gives you room to reject things that might otherwise destroy you and your self-worth. We have a choice about what we are going to take into our hearts and carry around with us. Unconditional love doesn’t come with a scorecard and a measuring system. My choice is to travel light. I might have to throw a few things away and unpack my bags from time-to-time, but I will not throw away my confidence.

More than anything I want to walk with you on this journey. I want to introduce you to a new way to really move forward in life and make that insecure little girl inside of you proud. Next week I am starting a new series that will include journaling prompts, downloads, and simple ways for you to have a way to process your hurts and hangups.

Leave me a comment and let me know which topics you would like me to discuss. I would love to hear from you and pull you into this conversation!

Much love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “Laying Things Down & Finding Freedom

  1. Awesome! Can’t wait to go through the new series! Been following you for a couple years and appreciate all you share with us bcs our stories share similarities! Thank you for helping me on the journey to freedom!

    1. I’m SO excited, Amy! Praying God uses it as a catalyst for all of us on this journey! It’s going to be good! ❤️

  2. I have been struggling with a lot of medical issues and for some reason, health issues really trigger me, making me feel alone, uncared for, or forgotten by God. I know this isn’t true, but the fear is consuming. I would love some discussion on this hang up! Thank you for your words and authenticity.

    1. I think when we are struggling in our health everything is so raw and painful. I had a difficult recovery time after surgery 10 years ago and felt like I was going crazy. Really, I just wanted my family to take care of me. I honestly didn’t know how to ask for help and definitely felt neglected. I’m so sorry you are going through this, Mindy.

  3. I need a reminder (scripture) of who God says I am – how HE sees me…that He loves me tenderly (does He?) and doesn’t disapprove of me. That, and grace. Actually, maybe they’re related.

    1. I think they are related. Sending you big hugs! I’ll address this on the blog this week. Let me know if you think of anything else, I think so many will identify with your comment. ❤️

  4. I want to know what traveling light looks like. I want to know how to truly lay some heavy stuff down and move forward in freedom.

    1. YES!! Where you are right now is the very best place to start. I’ve been there and I know it’s painful but I promise you it’s so worth it! Praying for you, Laura! I want to encourage you to find a “freedom buddy” to join you on this series. You will be amazed at how much you both will grow. ❤️

      1. What is a freedom buddy? Is that someone else who needs freedom or is that just a close friend that would join me on this journey? Just curious as I send out applications and begin to advertise. 🙂

        1. You made me laugh. When I was walking through some issues I met a girl who is now one of my best friends. She had junk to work through too so we kept each other accountable. It has to be someone you really, really trust. Don’t accept applications from weirdos. 😉

  5. Jen, some of the things that we faced as teens was acceptance and I feel it’s a huge one for us moms.. Seeing groups of moms connected close and feeling left out etc.. it would be easy for moms to carry around a feeling of rejection..
    But I feel the Holy Spirit wants to impart that moms are Complete!
    This would be amazing to dive into

    1. Absolutely! This is definitely something women face and wrestle with. Great topic!! ❤️

  6. Hi Jennifer! I’ve been a big fan of yours, Holley’s and Suzie’s since watching my first episode of #morethansmalltalk a few months ago! I stumbled upon it through a friend and look forward to every broadcast! The 3 of you always seem to address a topic that I’m facing! Thank you so much for opening up about your deepest struggles; I’m in a “me too” space and have needed to know that I’m not alone!

    Oh! And my response to your question…I would love to dive deeper into how to shirk our prideful need for approval from others. How do we stay focused on God when we live in a world where checking our number of LIKES on Facebook can become an obsession and in which the phrase “I’m so proud of _________” is a part of our daily lexicon?

    This particularly unattractive stronghold has reached up to grab me again, as I find myself in the midst of many new beginnings where first impressions have me obsessing over silly things like, “Will I impress them so they will like me and be my friend?” In particular, I’m praying that my “disease to please” won’t interfere with my focus on God, especially as I work toward officially launching my new Christian mom blog. I want to honor God with my blog, not replace Him with the “approval idol!”

    Thanks in advance for any insight you can offer! You’ve already helped so much, so I’m super grateful! Whatever you choose to focus on will surely be what I need to hear! (Wink) Thanks again for sharing your life so that all of us can live more freely in Christ!

    1. Oh girl, I just took notes reading your comment! Wow, you just nailed our natural tendency as women to please and overthink everything. You are so very wise -I think we should tackle all of this! Thank you for leaving a comment, it has inspired me and encouraged my heart today! We have a FB live on the 30th about The Summer of Permission! It’s going to be fun and hopeful a big sigh of relief. Launch that new blog and send me the link! You got this!

      Much love,
      Jennifer

      1. Hey Jennifer! I’m so humbled that you took notes on my little comment since I’ve been taking notes from you, Holley and Suzie for so long! You all lift me up (and read my mind)!

        I can’t wait to hear your insights on my approval/overthinking struggles! Glad to hear I’m not alone too! Looks like a fun series with you! I’m always up for a closer look at my insecurities – in the hopes of sending them packing with God’s guidance. 🙂

        And thanks SO MUCH for your supportive words regarding my blog launch! I know you’re super busy and it means so much that you took the time to respond to my comment and offer words of affirmation for my little blog-to-be! (Www.allisonwixted.com) BTW, I hope it is OK that I already created links on my Inspiration page to your blog, Holley’s and Suzie’s. If not, you just let me know and I will totally respect that!

        And I’ve marked my calendar for the 30th too! Yay!

        Sending you and “your girls” a big virtual hug of thanks!

    1. Sherry, my best friend went through this! And, probably is still dealing with this to a certain extent. She felt very left out and uninvited, even at church. I’ll ask her to chime in.

  7. Jennifer,
    As a pastor, I’m obviously concerned about the plight of the pastor’s wife. Thank you for your ministry. I was so moved by your statement, “‘Almost free’ isn’t freedom at all.” Thank you.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read this and comment, Joshua! Blessings. Ministry is not for wimps, I love ministering to women in ministry. We need someone who “gets it” because they have lived it personally.

  8. Thank you so much for this! I just saw it in my feed. I’m really excited to read the series. I feel like you were writing about. Meeting the approval of others has been a huge struggle for me. I know I need to keep my eyes on God and trust his love and approval of me. Yet I suffer with anxiety over making everyone happy. Any conflict and I go into a panic attack. I give great advice but can’t seem to apply it in my own life.

  9. Almost free is not freedom at all. Yes….I’ve lived there for way too long. I am desperately seeking freedom! I NEED to learn how to live alive like Rend Collective’s song says. I am looking forward to following your series.

  10. The thing I want to let go of is my desire for children. I am almost 38 years old and barren. Adoption is not an option (We’re not financially able, and besides that, my husband is vehemently opposed to “taking on someone else’s mistake” as he calls it). He has a 14 year old daughter from his first marriage, so it doesn’t really matter to him if we have children, even though he knows I am miserable. I have prayed for years that God would either open my womb or remove the desire to be a Mother from my heart. But God has remained completely silent. So I want to let go of the desire. I am tired of being miserable and feeling empty.

    1. Alicia, the ache of barrenness is such a brutal thing to experience. Your hurt is real, the intense desire to mother is so strong and when it goes unfulfilled the disappointment is devastating. I have no idea why certain women aren’t able to have children, it seems so unfair. But, I have friends who had their prayers answered in so many beautiful ways. They did give birth to something incredible, but it wasn’t a child. Even though they have moved on and made peace with it, the hurt still surfaces with them. I am watching one of my best friends who was unable to have children, who is not even forty yet, become a grandmother. She is giddy. She became a mother to a 20-something she adopted a few years ago. I am praying God fills your heart with a desire that brings you great joy and fulfillment in this season. So much love to you.

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