Chains

(written by Jennifer Saxton)

Every week, I gather with roughly 40 other women of different ages, ethnicities and body types to dance.

Zumba class has become one of my most favorite classes at the gym. During that hour, women are smiling, laughing and having fun. No one cares if you miss a step or if you jiggle a little more than the person next to you. We are all there getting some exercise and enjoying life.

On a personal level, this class means freedom. Freedom from trying to be the perfect wife and mom, freedom from the inner voices telling me that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not pretty enough, that I’m not thin enough…just not enough.

You see, these are the chains I wear.

No matter what people tell me, I can’t seem to break these chains. There have been times when I have stood up and literally tried to shake off the feeling of inadequacy … as if there really were chains around me.

In dance class though, I am able to put those chains aside, stand tall and cha-cha. It’s amazing, but when class is over, I can feel those chains making their way back around me. Why can’t I leave the chains off?

I know I’m not the only one who has these feelings. We each have our own “chains” that hold us back.

As a Christian woman, I know this is not how God wants or planned for me to live.

Second Timothy 1:7 states,

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

I wasn’t meant to walk around with my head down, berating myself, carrying chains not meant for me. So why do I do it?

Well, because I choose to pick up those chains.

It’s my own doing … my guilt, my shame, my insecurities that keep them bound tight. It’s really that simple of an explanation, but such a difficult habit to break. But by not using the “power, love and self-discipline” God has graciously given me, I’m inflicting unnecessary hurt on myself.

God made us in His image … to be righteous, forgiving, loving, compassionate and all the other amazing attributes that God has but the truth is … I am human. I am going to mess up, and boy, have I. As I type this I can feel them tighten causing feelings of regret, sadness, and unworthiness. It’s suffocating.

The good news though is that I have been forgiven by the only being that really matters…God. He is not the one reminding me of my shortcomings and failures – I am. God has given me the spirit of power to overcome these feelings and the self-discipline to learn from my mistakes and do better next time. He’s also given me a spirit of love … to love my neighbors, but also to love myself.

God gave me such a precious Gift that I still can’t really comprehend. Being the mom of two boys, I can’t imagine giving one up to save others. My human brain can’t fathom that! But, that’s exactly what He did. For me. Every time I put myself down, it’s like I’m rejecting God’s gift. If He forgives me and sees me as worthy, then I owe it to Him to see myself in the same light.

I love the song by Britt Nicole which says:

You’re lifting my head up
I was keeping my head down
I didn’t know love
But I do now

Cause You stood right there
And then You broke apart the lies
You told me I had something beautiful inside
You brought to life the part of me I thought had died
Cause You stood right there until I saw me
I saw me through Your eyes

What an amazing feeling to be able to see myself how God sees me. When my boys make mistakes, I don’t hold it against them and/or bring it up later to remind them of their failures. No, we talk about how we should handle that situation next time and we move on. My love for them never wavers. Why do I think my Heavenly Father would treat me any differently?

I wish I could tell you I’m totally free of all my chains, but honestly it is a daily struggle. Time with God each day, whether it be reading a devotional or just talking to Him in the car during carpool, is essential in my fight against those chains. But like the song says, “There is power in the name of Jesus. To break every chain, break every chain, break EVERY chain.”

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