When I think of the word freedom I revert back to memories of being a teenager. I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license so I could have the "freedom" to get to where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go. I couldn’t wait to be an adult so I could have the "freedom" to live life the way I wanted to instead of doing what my family wanted me to do.
by Ria Reigns I 14 April 2021
Recently though; when I looked up the word freedom, this definition struck me:
Freedom: “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”
Suddenly I realised that I have had less freedom as an adult than I ever did as a teenager. The chains of my adulthood were the dangerous kind – the ones that no one else saw but me, the ones that suffocated my thoughts and my spirit. Thankfully, a few years ago I was able to admit that I had a problem, and I started a journey of healing. Healing of my mind, healing of my body, but most significantly – healing of my spirit.
On Sunday 11th April 2021 I was water baptised, and this is my FREEDOM story:
I grew up in church, from Sunday school to youth group and I attended for most of my adulthood. In our home, I lived with my Mum, Grandmother, and Brother who were faithful prayer warriors and we had prayers every night together as a family. I knew who God was, I understood the difference between right and wrong and I knew what was expected of me as a person of faith. I played the part in that, I was a good person who was kind, loving, and giving. But despite this, I have lived my life with this nagging emptiness inside that I never understood till recently and it was because I didn’t have a personal relationship with God.
The feeling of emptiness was heightened ten years ago when my grandmother passed away. A month after that my marriage ended and our sons were only two and four years old. I was thirty, a single mother, who was struggling to keep it together - I felt abandoned. I became quite angry and rebellious and this resulted in a downward spiral of self-destruction through alcohol abuse, lying, entering into really bad relationships, ending those relationships only to feel an unexplainable loneliness when those relationships were over which led me to throw myself right back into another bad relationship. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I hated myself for it, but I was so full of bitterness and shame and I felt so unworthy of love and forgiveness that I couldn’t even bring myself to ask God for help, instead I shut God out and tried to hide from Him.
But how blessed am I that we have a faithful, loving, and forgiving heavenly Father. Matthew Chapter 18 verses 12-14 (GNB) says:
“What do you think a man does who has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go look for the lost sheep. When he finds it, I tell you he feels far happier over this one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. In the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost.”
By all accounts, I shouldn’t have survived that season of my life, but I did. I didn’t recognise it at the time, but I understand now that the Word tells me that even though I was disobedient and rebellious to him, that my own shame kept me from seeing him – I was still important enough to him to make sure I made it through this season.
There were times when I had no money and I would look in the empty freezer and cry because I didn’t know what to feed the kids and then at that moment, out of nowhere I’d get a phone call from one the aunties “Hey palagi, we’ve made dinner, we are coming over with some food".
Or the times when I was overwhelmed with the boys and Mum would call and tell me she’s taking them for the weekend so I could rest.
Or the times when loneliness pulled me into a really dark place and I felt abandoned, only to have a friend call me up and say, “Suga! Are you home, I’m coming over for coffee".
Even though I wasn’t talking to God, he still protected and provided for me and the kids. I didn’t make it through life without him, I made it through because of Him.
So over the last few years, I started to build a relationship with God. Restoring trust in our relationship by distancing myself from things that in reality were hurting me. Talking to God every day even if it was just to say “Thank you for another day”. On my long commutes to work, I switched from listening to R&B to listening to sermons. I started to fast and read the bible to try and seek to understand more about him in relation to me and when I moved to South Auckland last year I joined this church surrounding myself with a positive, caring Christian community.
I still fell over at times but instead of hiding in shame I asked God for his forgiveness and worked towards not doing it again. I started to take more notice of that tug at my heart that I would get during service at either a song or a sermon that felt like it was speaking directly to me. Basically, I stopped running from God and instead allowed him to see all my faults, my indiscretions, my weaknesses, and my scars and accepted his forgiveness for them.
I still have the unseen scars from my past but through Jesus, they no longer hold me captive. God has led me into a season of FREEDOM!! When he pressed on me a thought to leave my fulltime, secure job in the middle of a pandemic to start my own business I was like “Ha, you got jokes man, I still got kids to feed!” But instead of being my usual disobedient self I took the leap of faith, I studied and graduated, I handed in my resignation and started my own Life Coaching business. And through this all I have felt an indescribable peace in my heart and the emptiness I have felt for so much of my life has been filled; and as a result, I had the desire to be Baptised; making a public declaration of the internal promise I have already made to follow Jesus.
And so, finally, at the age of 40, I have stopped running and instead I stand firm in this peace and in faith I fully accept the love and acceptance of the only Father that has never and will never leave me.
Like the song says “Hell, has lost another one, I am free” Amen
I am now in MY freedom season!!!
The freedom season is unique for every individual because it depends on your own chains.
What does your freedom season look like?
What do you need to let go of or step into to start your freedom journey?
Your FREEDOM season is waiting for you - take that first step towards it today!
Maria Ooms (aka Ria Reigns of Afakasi Scoop)
TuRIA Coaching Ltd