The Prison That Crumbled

Maybe you have noticed, or maybe you haven’t, but the direction of my story has  changed so much in the last year. I had been living in a place of victimhood; I felt like I was a victim in my own story, and because I believed that narrative about myself, it really was true. After birthing Indigo, and even during his pregnancy, my voice began to show up more and more, but it was so faint and so tiny and the changes happening inside of me weren’t yet visible to those around me. But with every small step forward, the possibility of change loomed ever closer, tempting and teasing me from afar with promises of its existence but also with words of deceit that told me I could never reach the place I longed for. 

And yet, I clawed my way to the surface, slipping occasionally on the mold-ridden stones of a prison that I had once called safe, seeing through the fabricated deceptions that I had allowed myself to believe; the lie that being safe was of greater value than bravery. The lie that courage only belonged in the stories of someone other than me; just Sarah.

  So with hands trembling, I stood up on my weak and seemingly useless legs, and opened my eyes. I had been seeing visions of grandeur and beauty, all while sitting at the bottom of a stone prison, covered in rags. My eyes had been deceived by a longing for safety that told me that the dirt I was sitting on was actually a velvet cushion and that the walls, so rough and stained with shame, were not merely stone but rather marble. So, with open eyes that saw the truth of the pit I was in, I released the armor that had attached itself so deeply into my skin that taking it off meant first going through the pain of separation; the excruciating feeling of being wounded and openly exposed all at once.

Although the beam of light that glistened from the top of my prison was dim and I couldn’t be sure if it was real or merely an illusion, I grabbed the rope that had been dangling just feet away from me and knotted it around my waist. This rope had been there all along, but never once had I recognized it as more than just a shadow. Mustering all of the bravery and courage that I could find, I carried the belief for myself that I could get to the top of the prison wall…that change was a possibility…that being a victim was no longer an effective strategy for me and that it was time to embrace a new way of living; a way that served me and ultimately served God. 

I am tired of hearing the mantra that people don’t change. I am tired of believing that I have to be who people think I should be. Change is hard for a lot of reasons but one of the hardest reasons, in my opinion, is that when we begin to take those first steps into the unknown we are often met by friends and family who are unsupportive of giving us space to grow. Often this stems in their own fear of change and while they generally mean no harm, their unbelief causes a great deal of feeling unworthy to be who we know we are meant to be. For me, this has come in the form of being viewed consistently as the person I was ten years ago. When I was eighteen, I had just come out of a toxic home environment. And I was bitter and exhausted and I told myself that I would be a victim for the rest of my life. During my early adult years, I had to navigate through a sea of self hatred and that hate rumbled into the lives of those around me. While I was busy hating myself, there was no room to love anyone. 

As a twenty eight year old, I have had people talk to me as if I hadn’t just lived the last ten years of my life. I have had people assume that I am still the person who hates herself, who hates life overall, who is aggressive and desiring of being right, who can’t have a regular conversation without getting defensive. When some people who I am close to talk about me, they talk about me as if I were still the old me, because it’s hard for them to allow me to change because if I can change, then maybe they can too.

Our minds are powerful and much more capable than we can possibly imagine. If we truly believe that God created us, then how can we be so fooled by the idea that we are stuck? God isn’t an enneagram type…he IS the enneagram. God isn’t one version of His people…He is ALL of the versions, all powerful, all good. And if this is true, then He didn’t create me to be a victim or imprisoned by self doubt, shame, guilt, or any of the shackles that I had placed on myself or allowed others to place on me. If God is THIS big then He must have created something so good and when what He has created is covered by His blood and His love, then what once seemed impossible becomes astoundingly possible.

I am not broken because God took that from me. I am not helpless, because God helps me. I am not alone, because God promises to be with me for all of time. I am not perfect, but I don’t have to be. I am not entitled, because I wasn’t made to take. I am not strong or brave or courageous because of anything I have personally done, but I am strong and brave and courageous because God lives within me. I do NOT have to be evil, because God says I am more. I do NOT have to act out on every emotion or feeling that I have that isn’t of love, because God empowers me to be better. I don’t have to pretend like I don’t yell or get angry or say things that I wish I hadn’t said, because God releases me from that shame that tries to tell me my worth is dependent on my actions. I can GIVE to those around me, because I have learned how to give myself to God.

The prison that once fooled me into believing that it was my home is gone and those who refuse to believe that I am more are not the people who’s opinion I am seeking. Being rejected is scary because rejection used to equate to death…if you were rejected by your tribe or people, you were cast out and literally faced death. Fear of rejection is an engrained part of our DNA because it kept us alive, but I’m not letting the fear of rejection own me anymore. I’m not letting myself believe that I’m a victim anymore. I’m not letting the opinions of others determine who I am anymore. And if someone still sees me as the same girl who sat at the bottom of a stone prison…I recognize that it’s them there, in that stone prison, placing my face on their own in an effort to hide from their vulnerability. 

I wake up worthy. I go to bed worthy. I mess up and yet, I am still worthy. I make mistakes…but still worthy. I look up into the face of Jesus, and all I see reflected back at me are His eyes that say, “Sarah, you are worthy.” 

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