In the words of the song by Bonnie Rhett “I can’t make you love me if you don’t.” Oh how hard I tried. When I was a little girl I felt my daddy loved me. By the time I was a teenager and started liking things that were different than what he liked, I no longer felt that love. We were not allowed to wear red because he didn’t like it. We couldn’t have mustard on our food because he didn’t like it. He was totally in control.
When you grow up under control like that, once it’s gone, you have no idea how to freely be yourself. Personally, I looked for others to please because that was something familiar and measurable. Making everyone happy became a real desire.
Being so singularly focused on pleasing other people caused me to lose a bit of my own identity. In fear that people wouldn't like me, I put myself in bondage by only liking or disliking similarly to those around me. I took on other's views and had none of my own. I had developed a self-image that said: "I'm not smart enough to adopt my own opinions". I carried this thought process all the way into church as well. I thought if I wasn’t doing what other wives and mothers were doing then I was not good enough for God.
Thankfully, along the way the Lord has shown me that He has made me purposefully and beautifully unique (see Psalms 139:13-14). I don’t have to conform to the opinions of those around me to be loved by him or anyone else.
This is a journey for someone like me who isn’t used to thinking this way, but I feel like God is showing me that he is not going to stop loving me when I mess up. He is patient and kind as I learn. My journey toward freedom hasn’t been easy or fast, however, choosing to embrace the truth of what God’s word says about me, sets me free.
John 8:32 tells us:
“And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
Free will, which God created in us, allows us the opportunity to explore how he uniquely designed us for a purpose. How we live out our faith doesn't need to look like everyone else; it can be a unique expression rooted in God's design. This is freedom!
Think About: In what ways have you found yourself living out the expectations of other people? Think of how God uniquely designed you, what is it that you specifically enjoy that could also advance the gospel of Jesus?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for freedom! Thank you that knowing you and loving you sets us free to be who you created us to be. Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love and your mercy you shed on us abundantly. Amen
Rita Reagan is a mother of 3 grown children and Nana to 7 grandchildren. An Education Coordinator for a healthcare company, Rita loves to laugh and is compassionate about helping people in need. A widow herself, Rita mentors single women and desires to leave a legacy of serving her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.