The fog and rain of the day before had lifted and the sun shone through a few clouds as I headed back home from my visits with friends and family in Atlanta. I was in high spirits while constantly surfing the radio for entertaining music or programs. I even stopped a minute at a Spanish language station to see if I could make out any words. Gee, my Spanish is bad now!
Thirty years ago, I left a fundamentalist /end times cult. I had gone through several life events since then: Rebellion, atheism, the suicide of my brother, parents’ divorce, and my own marriage and children.Thankfully, after the first ten years I found grace and salvation through Jesus.
I didn’t realize that I was still affected by it and in bondage until a lovely couple at my church was sharing during Sunday School about Messianic Jewish traditions they had observed in their recent stay in the Holy Land. I was looking forward to hearing all about it.
They started talking about holy days on the Jewish calendar and how Christ was incorporated into the celebrations in Messianic churches today. Suddenly, I was a little girl again. We had strict observances of Old Testament holy days, devoid of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, but filled with oppressive laws and a hard, hard God. I was overcome by the old familiar feelings of despair, anxiety, and alienation. The heavy chains of legalism constricted me and I couldn’t even breathe. I thought I was going to self-destruct. I raised my shaking hand and half screamed while choking out the words,”You all just don’t understand what this can do to you without Jesus!” I can’t remember what else I said, but I was embraced with gentleness and love and a whole room full of people prayed for me as I gradually stopped sobbing.
After that, more triggers appeared followed by panic and debilitating anxiety with tears. Months went by. Then a year.
Three weeks earlier, I had unbelievably crazy dreams. I don’t usually dream, so this was surprising. They always had something to do with my childhood, yet I felt gradually more like an observer and not entangled in the dream. I began to have the sensation that I was an old, weathered building with paint flaking off. It felt like bad things falling off of me, but not hurting as they fell. I had one nightmare that I was falling asleep on the couch of my childhood home and a demon reached for me, but didn’t get me.
On this Sunday, driving home from Atlanta, I felt really happy. I started the ascent of Mt. Eagle outside of Chattanooga. Still flipping through the channels, I stopped at a familiar song by Nickelback called “Photograph,” which I had heard a hundred times. All of a sudden, something felt odd. I started to hear MY story in the song. What I heard over and over wasn’t exactly what the true words were. I heard and saw in my mind, my old house, walking out the front and out the back. Then looking for a photo of a “prison” I’d been searching for. “It’s time to say it, I have to say it, good-bye, good-bye.”
From somewhere deep, deep inside me, I knew I could say good-bye to everything – to my prison I only thought I had left, yet had carried around with me for over 30 years. I couldn’t stop crying. I cried up the mountain and down the other side. I cried until I couldn’t cry any more, and then I DID cry some more.
I was free. It is a remarkable thing to be free for the first time in your life.
I don’t know your story, but this is mine. There is a remarkable key to this release that I can’t mention here, but could share with you perhaps at another time.
It feels pretty darn good to be free.