I remember wanting to save the planet by making everyone around me aware of recycling, creating order from chaos, designing clothes, fashion modeling, dancing with the Alvin Ailey Dance Co., selling handmade crafts, managing a hotel, being a nutritionist or health advisor…some combination of all of those things. Big dreams for an eight-year old! I don’t know what happened, but somewhere along the journey, I seemed to have lost sight of my dreams.
Bondage in Fear
I was so focused on making straight A’s to get into an excellent college or university I spent no time focusing on why I wanted to go to college in the first
place. That made it all the harder to choose a school or have the confidence to apply for a certain institution with the belief that I would get in. I was basing
my choice on what others were expecting of me (or what I imagined they expected of me). At one point, I even believed I was carrying the whole African American population with me to victory. (Yeah…what?) I firmly believed that it was my duty to strive so hard for them in order to prove the stereotypes wrong. On top of that, I wanted to make my family proud of my achievements.
What happens to a child when her dreams become less her own and more those of family, neighborhood, and the community? Though it is not her responsibility to bear the burdens of the world around her, she believes it is hers whole-heartedly and inevitably sets herself up for disappointment and perceived failure from the beginning. She thinks it is her duty to sacrifice self and well-being for the sake of others. That her own dreams are unimportant in comparison to this weighty need. Afraid of failing family and friends, I unknowingly chose a life of bondage. Pleasing others so that I would not lose their love. The vibrant little girl became quiet, shy, fearful and in constant pursuit of affirmation.
Freedom in Truth
The truth is, my foundation is rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3: 17), not fear. Though I believed in Jesus my entire life, I had not truly understood what it meant that by His death, I was now free. The lies of the Enemy hide the truth in darkness, for it is his intention to kill, steal, and destroy what is good and of God (John 10:10). Alone, we are unable to ward off the Enemy’s schemes, but within authentic community, we are reminded of truth, encouraged, held accountable…we are genuinely loved in the example of Christ.
I relate to the story of the woman with a disabling spirit in John 13: 10 -13:
“And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. (v 11)”
The same with me for all those years. My fear kept me from living in light of His love for me…in confidence that He has a great plan for my life. It’s been 18 years since I vowed to be perfect. When I called out to Him from my heart, exhausted by my striving, He said to me by His Word, “Woman, you are freed from your disability (v 12).” Perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18).
On this journey of recognizing my own freedom, He restored my passions and dreams and is continually showing me what I need to purge from the inside out. The vision to combine my love for organization, fashion, psychology, recycling/repurposing, etc became realized in (re)define. With this blessing of restoration in my life, I pray that I might be able to encourage others to dig deep and uncover what was lost, stolen, or taken away from them, just as it was with me.
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Bria is a writer, encourager, designer, stylist, organizer, dancer, adventurer, entrepreneur and a sinner saved by grace. She is a native of Beaufort, SC and a graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA where she was educated to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of our times.
If you would like to know more about Bria’s journey from fear to freedom, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.