It’s been quite a few days since I last wrote, and a lot has happened during that time. I returned home from Belize on August 31st–back to fewer bugs and “chilly” weather and natural foods and welcoming hugs from family and friends. All lovely things. It was incredibly strange entering the airport in Atlanta and seeing the vast amounts of people and shops and hallways. It hit me that living in a third-world country for three months had so disconnected me from all of that; I was no longer used to any of it. Driving home from the next airport set me stunned: I had forgotten what a city looks and feels like.
In a sense, a spiritual sense, it’s much harder to live in America than Belize. There are more–or maybe just thicker–barriers that must be broken down and obstacles that need to be removed. Being on my guard at all times is imperative, because Satan can sneak in and steal at any point. This past week had me figuring out how to readjust. I’m trying to find a balance–learning to live here in the States while maintaining all that God taught me as I lived there in Belize. It is far too easy to let go of my new habits or to put aside daily quiet time or not be in constant communion with Him. Yet forsaking those things is dangerous; they must be done. And it doesn’t matter where I live, or what temptations I face (because they do change from country to country, and region to region); God is God and He is with me wherever I am. Thus, I can have constant communion and fellowship with Him in all places regardless of my circumstances.
The past three months have also taught me the truth to this verse:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Through Christ, we are freed from the law (hallelujah!). We no longer are subject to it; we follow it out of obedience to Him, which is out of love for Him. But following the law is not our means of salvation. Jesus Christ is.
I learned that truth but I also learned it in a step forward. Because God doesn’t condemn us, we are not subject to anyone else’s condemnation either. (Even if God were to condemn us, humans wouldn’t hold the role of Judge anyway.) We are FREE in Christ. That means we are not held to others’ expectations. We are not held to our own expectations. I trust you know that this is not to say we can throw all care to the wind and live however we want to live. Of course not. But it does mean that we are free.
There are numerous practical ways I have ingested this. Unfortunately, it took me quite a while to do so. But the last month or so of my stay in Belize was a time of increasing freedom–rather, my increased acknowledgement of my freedom. I no longer checked the kitchen sink every half hour to wash the most recent dish or piece of silverware. I no longer hung around the house most of the day to make sure I was always 100% available instead of going to the dorm or elsewhere. I stopped trying to solve every problem the little girls had.
Let me point out something else. Each of the things I mentioned above were done out of fear; fear that I wouldn’t be worthy of my keep or fear that they would think less of me because I didn’t measure up to some standard (a standard that was never even said). There were no stated or written expectations for me to begin with; I was just there to help out when needed. When I first arrived at the base back in May, I started washing the dishes and working around the house and taking care of the girls. I did these things to be helpful, as an assistant, but soon the others started leaving these things to me as my job. There was nothing wrong with that, at first. Then I put pressure on myself and took on the roles completely because I saw that others weren’t. There is also a spirit of judgement at the base, which meant that I would receive dirty looks or even the silent treatment if I didn’t do something that I was supposedly expected to do. I hate disappointing and upsetting people, and not being worthy enough–so I worked harder. It was completely irrational.
Then I meditated on that verse, Romans 8:1. I realized that the roles I had assumed were only good to a point. Helping out and being an assistant–that’s what I was there for. I was not there to take on the role of Mother or even Big Sister. So I started gradually backing off, even though the others did not always approve. When they needed something or asked me to do something, by all means I would do it. But I did not busy myself to unlimited degrees. I refused to let their judgement penetrate me. Instead, I chose God’s freedom and found my worth in Him. He is the only one I will ever have to answer to, so He is the only one I am going to get my expectations from.
Choose freedom, friends. Choose God’s victory over condemnation, and don’t let Satan steal anything from you that you have in Christ. Meditate on Romans 8:1 (and the rest of that chapter) and know God’s immense love for you. Take that love and use it on others. You are free–live it!