I’m a word nerd for better and worse. I search for the perfectly nuanced word to use to describe a sight or an emotion. I can also get stuck on a specific definition of a word that others may use in conversation, which leads to misunderstandings and woundings. 

Freedom Immersion reminded me of the power that words possess – to Bless or to Curse. The contrast between Blessing and Cursing was sharpened when I digested the encouragement about God’s design for me. His words build me up. The curses destroy me. Hearing that God whispers a different story for me to live into, a story of Blessing and inclusion, helps me realize that I am not who those old curses label me to be. 

When I was young, my joyful self-expression met another’s disparate opinion and some of my essence was stolen, lost. Often the Church falls because of our tendency toward friendly fire. We tear down the very people with whom we are called to live. 

At Freedom Immersion, I was given back some of my essence which was stolen so many years ago. When it was taken, I learned: people didn’t accept me the way I was, that I should change or hide myself in order to please them, that I should make them feel comfortable at the expense of my own self. I learned to be in the middle of the road rather than take a risk or rock the boat. I learned that people are not safe. 

At Freedom Immersion I heard : God deeply knows and values me as His creation. I heard : I have a unique role to play in His Good World. 

I heard : that God covers me with a Robe of Righteousness instead of the patched garment of my own efforts (Isa 61: beauty for ashes, a robe of praise instead of a spirit of despair). 

I heard : I am made to bring life out of hard circumstances. 

I heard : I am created to hold the wisdom and stature of a Queen.

I heard : He trusts me.   

Freedom Immersion gave me new tools to identify and rip out roots/patterns of Rejection & Fear. In faith, I prayed for release from the LIE that I am Rejected. In faith, I received new depths of Acceptance from my Creator and Lord who has made me certain ways for His strategic purposes. 

When I digest these affirmations, I believe them more deeply than ever before. This active faith enables the old strongholds, built by lies, to be torn down and builds a Temple for God Himself to inhabit in their places. It creates a fresh view of the value, worth, and attention He gives me. When I receive God’s trust, I stand up a little taller, I  value myself more. When I receive God’s deep love for me, I validate His purpose for me to take up the unique space designed for me to fill. Each created thing’s uniqueness is what brings glory to God; its uniqueness displays God’s glory. Everything has its place and by taking that unique place, it brings about flourishing abundance for all.

When my Joy was stolen, I learned that people are not safe. But when I feel safe with God I have something to offer people. He gives me a voice to be shared more widely than I realized. 

Deeply rooting my identity in Him frees me to be more of myself out in the world, letting my sense of humor out more with strangers – sharing my laughter/joy, inviting them closer, inviting them to see me beyond my skin. I’ve always been pleasant to strangers, but I often didn’t let them hear my thoughts and responses to the moments we shared. I didn’t think I had something valuable to offer them. I didn’t realize that the simple things I delight in might also delight another person. I’m starting to share the abundant life I see all around us, drawing attention to Jesus in our midst even if I don’t speak His Name out loud. Where there is Joy, Jesus is there. Pointing out the Joy points toward Jesus. 

I’ve been content to be a behind-the-scenes, private, reserved person who operated best in a small, intimate circle. I thought that because I’m not made to be loud that my voice is not made to be heard loudly, widely. But the things that I learn about myself and about my loved ones teach me about people, about God: things meant to be shared. I thought that people don’t want to hear about Jesus – they’ve heard it before…but have they heard about My Jesus? The Jesus that I know? The Jesus that gave me my voice back and gave me something worth sharing? Have they heard about Him

As I rest in the value He places on my essence and creativity, I am learning to pay attention to images and words that come to mind while I worship God. When I engage with Him, using my body to bring expression for His Holy Spirit inside me, I am taken with His Presence and less concerned with others’ criticism. As I release the old fears of being labeled, I am free to live into the names that God applies to me: Whole, Beloved, Known, Precious. As I focus on God’s names for me, I let go of protecting and justifying myself, finding my security with Him. As I live into who He calls me, I can be unafraid of labels like: passionate, emotional, hand-raiser, expressive, demonstrative, bold, crazy. I can be free to be His and free to be me.