Freedom to be Yourself
Deep within each of us is an avid ‘do-it-yourself-er.’ We love to look at things with an eye to improvement. There is a sense of freedom in the ability to make changes to our environments. In our excitement, it is easy to get caught up in the way things could be and then find ourselves in way over our heads. What started out a freeing experience, a take-charge-and-change-the-world experience can end up leave us feeling trapped.
Sometimes we look at ourselves the same way we see a project around the house. We get an idea into our heads and then rush to get the tools and materials needed to get it done. We run headlong to rip up carpet, or try the new miracle diet, or write a best selling novel. All too often we start these projects with unreasonable and unattainable goals. Inevitably, we run into trouble, and we give up and search for a project that looks easier.
We stop jogging when it rains for a few days and panic when the living room walls look like pea soup instead of sea foam. For many of us it is easier to give up on the entire project than to accept a set-back and re-evaluate what we were trying to do. And so we abandon our projects. We learn to live with a hole in the bathroom wall, or a temper that gets the better of us. We cast our eyes around looking for something else we can fix .
The right tools for the job
We need to ask ourselves a few questions before we start any project. Can we do this project or is it beyond our ability? Do we have access to the required tools? Can we afford to do it – whether financially or emotionally? Will we feel better once it’s done? Do we really want to get it done because it is important to us? Or are we doing it to satisfy some imagined ideal or standard?
You’d never start a home improvement project without the right hammer or screw-driver and the same applies to self-improvement projects. Make sure you’re packing the right tools before you dig in because as always, the right tool makes all the difference. Do you have these tools in your personal toolbox?
Forgiveness is at the heart of most things we try to change about ourselves. It is like a good multi-headed screw driver, you’ll use it everywhere. A lot of the habits and ideas we have about ourselves and others stem from forgiveness, whether we need to ask for it, or extend it to someone in our past. Forgiveness is crucial because it can often take the sting out of a hurt. It doesn’t mean that you pretend that it didn’t happen, but it means that you choose not to let it control you anymore.
All good changes take time — like tile grout or even cement, once it’s in place it will stand up to anything but you just can’t rush it. When it comes to dealing with yourself, a little patience goes a long way, and a lot of patience goes even further. Whatever you are working on there are going to be setbacks. Give yourself permission to fail. If you are trying to learn to curb your temper, don’t give up if you blow up at another driver on the way home. See it for what it was, and keep moving forward. A failure doesn’t mean that you have failed unless you stop trying. Be patient with yourself.
There is a very old prayer that has been used by various groups for years. It goes like this “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” There are things in our lives that we cannot change. You can’t pick your family. You can’t undo something that you have done or something that has been done to you. Acceptance is learning to see our personal history as history – what has happened, not what will happen. You can choose to stop struggling against the things you cannot change. And that can be a very freeing decision.
Freedom to be ourselves
We all want to be fixers. We want to fix our bodies, our minds, and our souls. We want to be a perfect version of ourselves, or possibly a perfect version of someone else altogether. What we don’t realize is that the work is already being done for us. Through his love God has already laid the foundation for a wonderful, satisfied person.
There is nothing more satisfying than knowing God is re-finishing us even as we are attempting to do it alone. And not only that, God can set us free from the guilt and anxiety we have about unfinished self projects because He loves us despite our mistakes and shortcomings.
You can have the peace that you are looking for; even if you feel like you still need some work. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of individual you want me to be.
If this prayer expresses your heart, you can pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised. If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.