Freedom from Me

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This poem is inspired by Sharon Hodde Miller’s book, Free of Me, this sermon by Rev. David Stephenson from Mclean Presbyterian Church, and my most recent life transition of moving from Arlington to Amissville.

Replace my self centeredness with an awareness of your
sovereign presence
Who am I to say
what will happen tomorrow,
or even today?
I’ve always known
a false sense of control
harboring anxiety like it’s a part of me
Allowing my plans and the failure of them
to dictate my disposition and my trust in you

There is freedom,
wherever you are
but not just from my past or future,
freedom from my present self
My never fleeting condition of
selfishness and pride
my constant fear of
inadequacy and the notion
that all good things will be
taken from me

There is freedom now,
your presence as real as the
invisible wind shaking the spring green trees
There is freedom in the evening,
when I’ve yet to complete all the things that
I set out to do in the morning
There is freedom in each new sunrise,
an opportunity to seek you more
to accomplish the purpose you have made me for

So let me find satisfaction in you alone
in your creation and your sacrifice
There is freedom from myself
You have forgiven all of my failures,
and finished all of my good works
I need not dwell on myself,
for you have given me a new identity
one that is made up of you,
I am free of me.

To Be Yours

It’s a desire to be in more than one place at a time
not a fear of missing out, but a fear of time
The quickness of it, and the thought of am I doing enough?
being enough, loving well enough?
Never enough and that’s the core of it all
My actions don’t satisfy my debts, my words
don’t earn your approval
My life could decrease in works and increase in mess
and you’d love me all the same

I would make it work the other way, if I were God
I don’t have thoughts on my own that are anything like yours
My thoughts are like dark roads covered in black ice
waiting for a chance to sneak in and crash up the movement of sanctification
If I were God, I’d say
the better you do, the better you are
and that would be more comfortable, knowing that my merit is earned
but I am not God, thank God

Instead, you give freely
and I come up short
you meet me

I am most at peace when given the opportunity to sit on the couch
with books and your word, and a hot cup of coffee
and I also feel anguish in those moments with the knowledge that I can’t
stay in this place for as long as I want
and among the peace there is also torment
the wrestling of my flesh, I just want to be more like you
I am not a savior though, I am simply saved

Simple in the sense that your blood is real and covers it all,
I long for your truth and the shaking off of my hindered perspective

My perspective that is hindered by the daily anxieties that I hate that I have
when I admit the things that truly worry me I am ashamed
Uneasiness rises within me at the sole thought of moving from one place to another
travel, food, sleep, furniture, finance, any ounce of change
I’m embarrassed by the concern that causes my chest to tighten,
I hold my breath when you’ve given me reason to breathe

When conviction runs rampant in my anxious heart,
I am left feeling defeated and undone
I crave to get every single idea and event inscribed on my internal calendar
and carried out into eternity but I fail
I fail to accomplish the simple things, and I have always been
compelled by the complex

This is an admittance of guilt for things that I should rightly feel guilty for,
but you told me that to set my mind on the flesh is death,
and to set my mind on the Spirit is life and peace
and I want to live

I want to live in utter admiration of your character,
letting this knowledge of you lead me away from darkness
the shadows of my heart and the way it sets my mind up for failure
Let compassion be an enabling emotion, leading me to
serve you out of freedom and genuine care for others
Let each day be counted as good because of your work
already finished
And in my lacking let your fullness be
illuminated

Slow my internal discourse, my outward speech
make a symphony out of my discomposure
and let me hear your voice above it all
saying

“Child, you are mine and that is enough.”

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In the light

I am often entirely caught up in the present anticipation of the next moment,
signaling my emotions, intentionally letting my heart get a head start on what is to come
this idea of preparation started the second I realized my body
was capable of losing control of it’s breath.

There is something disheartening about anxiety,
actually everything about consistent fret and oncoming doom
can shake any mark of confidence from your being
If I allow my identity to be built up of
weaknesses, I will inherently be made weak

This is factual, this is brick and mortar,
this is tangible and real-life
This is truth and transparency,
it’s a constant conflict to stay at peace
or feel an ounce of it at all

To take this concept of pressure,
that often overruns my existence,
and to label it as ‘manageable’
can render me defeated

Oh, how I am a mess
my heart fails at the sight of hardship
my tongue sets flame to destruction and
my mind lets chaos reign
left alone, I am broken up
and fearful – pitiful and desperate,
selfish, jealous, and insecure
condemning, bitter, and impure

In the light, I can see this great decision
to be made, and oh how I am grateful
for the opportunity to choose,
even when it’s unbearable, I can still choose
I can choose to rest in an undeniable truth
I can let my best intentions, my greatest strivings
and ambitions dissipate and in my weakness
I am given peace, but only in the moments
where I adopt gratitude over grieving
where I pick up song instead of sorrow

And in the moments where I fail to be in the light,
I am then given insurmountable grace
The defeat that once left me immobile
has been transposed into chance for
redemption and newness

So let my days be made up of
a continual act of letting go,
for everything I hold onto
shakes itself into solicitude

Let my heart be one of
gratitude, let grace be all that is left

Time is too quick to
be made up of anxious preparation,
to be solely an existing essence of regret,
sorrow and past experience

Let my heart know rest,
Let my heart know rest

Do not fret— it only causes harm. —Psalm 37.8

Fretting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret. It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37.7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else. Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.

Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle? Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 9.11). Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.

Oswald Chambers | My Utmost For His Highest