Freedom was on the other side. If I could just get through the next few hours of hell, I could break free. I could break out. I could leave the darkness behind.Set Free: How a Jiu Jitsu World Champion Found Jesus
The word was like honey in my mouth.
People have different tastes. Some have a taste for chocolate. Some have a taste for the blues. Some have a taste for beauty. I have a taste for freedom.
A seed must have been planted within me at conception to produce such a desperation for freedom. Yet, ironically, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t feel like a captive.
As a child, I was captive to fear and anxiety in a household of love-starved strangers who didn’t know how to relate to each other. I thought, if only I could move out and move away to college, THEN I’d be free.
But once in college, I became a captive to the shame of a sexual assault and the depression of a boyfriend deployed overseas. I thought, if only we get married and move away, THEN I’ll be free. I can bury the secret of the painful assault and grow something new.
Yet once married, I was too young, too immature, and too wild to feel satisfied in the love covenant of marriage. I still had wounds from childhood I was bringing to the table. I thought, if I just sleep with someone else, then I’ll feel loved.
Once divorced, I was captive to drunkenness and lust, trying to numb the pain of my previous captivities. If I could drink a bottle of wine, THEN I’ll be free. If I can just dance the night away, THEN I’d be free. If I just find someone to keep me warm tonight, then I’ll be free.
When I ran out of options, I joined the military. If I could just leave this small town and travel the world, then I’d be free. I was honored to serve my country, but there is little freedom available while in uniform. I suffered more sexual assault. More drunkenness. More lust.
Each time I did the thing that I thought would bring freedom, I became more enslaved to darkness and captivity.
Finally I married a man that abused me. At times, I was trapped in the house while he chased me with verbal assaults that left me broken beyond repair. If I could just hide in the bathroom, then I’d be free. If I could just escape the house, then I’d be free. If I could just divorce him, then I’d be free.
Yet even when we got divorced, I wasn’t free. I was still captive to the trauma and panic attacks the wounds of his abuse caused.
At the beginning of my book Set Free, I speak about freedom. I had “freed” myself into a pit of despair, and my last hope of tasting freedom was to gain full custody of my daughter and move out of Florida. I was captive to a state I hated because of the custody laws. Unless my abuser or a judge said I could leave, I was a prisoner.
I wanted a new life. I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to break free of the darkness.
I had never known Jesus throughout all my captivity. I looked for freedom in my external circumstances. Sometimes I fled to the mountains to break out of the prison of my day to day. Sometimes I fled to a bottle of alcohol. Often I fled to a jiu jitsu gym.
I was always looking for freedom on the other side of something. I thought my life and world had to change for things to get better, to get free.
Yet what I’ve found since then is that only Jesus can set us free.
I remember going through my first Level 1 Freedom Ministry – The Power of the Cross. I attended at the prompting of my spiritual father, Dr. Joshua Todd.
He said, “Ten years ago, it changed my life.”
I went and heard the powerful preaching of fiery woman of God. I’d only been saved for a few short months and knew little about the Jesus I gave my life to. Yet I sat in a row of chairs weeping as she told me it didn’t matter what I’d done or what was done to me, the cross had the power to set me free. All I had to do was surrender to the power of the cross, and spiritual power would be released to break the spiritual bondages that were keeping me captive.
I didn’t know that since childhood, satan had been feeding me lies and I had been taking them hook, line, and sinker. The lies that I would be free if I slept around, the lies that I was worthless, the lies that if I could just keep running from my problems I wouldn’t’ have to deal with them.
I was defenseless against the work of hell in my life because I didn’t have Jesus. I didn’t know Jesus or what He did for me, or the power to redeem and restore everything that was broken.
One of the first sessions of Freedom Ministry, the ministers laid hands on me, and I fell to the floor screaming as something demonic escaped out of my mouth. I woke up the next morning feeling as if a heavy yoke over my neck had been broken. They had preached and prayed, and my life was changed.
Indeed, there was power in the cross to set me free.
I’d never experienced anything like it. The truth made me free, and the reality of Jesus was sweeter than honey. As I’ve walked the pathway of discipleship, dying daily, and feasting on the Word of God, I’ve gotten freedom from shame, depression, anxiety, trauma, lust, and more. And I continue to walk into even greater levels of freedom I never thought possible.
There is nothing that tastes better than true spiritual freedom. It can’t be obtained by changing your circumstances. It can’t be obtained by any human wisdom or understanding. It’s only available through the power of the cross. Jesus died so we could be free.
How free do you want to be?
If you’re interested in this kind of freedom, FreedomHouse Jacksonville is hosting Level 1 Freedom Ministry Thursdays at 7pm from March 4-April 1. It is free to attend and childcare is available.
4241 Baymeadows Rd.