Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Breaking Down of Strongholds

Here is my next post from my "Breaking Free" blogger group and I feel I'm supposed to share:

So I was inspired by Juli's post to post one of my own, because the truth is, I've been set free too! On April 16, I started day 1 of week 6 (Beauty from Ashes). Day 1 was Ashes Instead of Honor. Background story: Earlier this year I went to an Extraordinary Women conference with a good friend of mine. One of the speakers (Angela Thomas, I think?) spoke about trading in our ashes for a crown of beauty (Isaiah 61:3). Afterwards, somehow I knew that I wasn't wearing my crown. A few days later, through this same good friend of mine, God asked me what did I trade in? I thought about it for a while and made a list of things, but I knew that I wasn't hitting the mark. Sin? Anxiety? What was I giving up? The things on my list were true, Jesus did take those things and replace them, but I just knew that somehow that wasn't quite what my ashes were.

Researching the biblical use of ashes really helped me. While going through the study for the day, I knew exactly what this was in reference to for me, and I knew that it should be significant for me, and for most of it, it was. By the time I got to the end of it, though, it felt distant, like it was far-removed from me, like it was 2 lifetimes away or for someone else. I was feeling like there should be something more going on, so I decided to skim ahead a little, and I 'happened' to read this, "In the margin write a prayer expressing to God what you're feeling right now about our lesson so far. If you're not feeling anything, tell Him! A lack of reaction to freeing truth can indicate a stronghold!" Hmmm...okay. So I decided to look at it square in the face and asked myself, "What am I feeling?" First I said, "Well, I'm definitely feeling some kind of resistance..." But no, it wasn't resistance, I decided. When I verbally pushed that label out of the way, I seemed a little bit closer, everything a little bit clearer. "Is it suppression? Am I suppressing this?" No, it's not suppression. Pushed that out of the way. When the other labels were out of the way, I could see everything clearly for what it was, and I was shocked. It wasn't suppression, it was OPPRESSION!! I had been feeling that there was something large holding me back that was right in the center of me, right below my heart in the pit of my stomach. In my mind's eye, I saw a large boulder there with a chain behind it, and I even saw the demon who had been assigned to it peering from behind it! I got the impression that he was the one who had put those other labels there, like his job had been to keep me from recognizing the stronghold for what it was, because he for sure did not want me to find it out! Not trying to scare anyone, so sorry if this is freaking you out, but he was not scary. To be quite honest he was much smaller than I would have thought--only a couple inches tall! Once I had 'pushed' everything out of the way and saw it clearly, it was obvious that there was nothing more he could do. He was completely powerless! AND he was out of a job!

I can trace my stronghold back to one single event, and I just simply was not expecting this to be a stronghold in my life. I had forgiven this person--I truly did not have any unforgiveness in my heart. I had allowed God to heal my heart--my heart wasn't broken any more. What I hadn't done was allowed God to fix my view of ME. My stronghold was shame. I had forgiven, and I wasn't broken, but I was carrying around the weight of shame with me that affected everything about me. I think it was in the center of me because it affected the very core of who I was. I somehow knew that if I worked through it with someone, I could break free. The next day, I sat down with one of my very best friends and told her everything. She worked through it with me, and by the time I was finishing my story, I couldn't help but smile. It was like with every word the weight got lighter, until, finally, the lifting took my mouth with it and it couldn't do anything else but curve! Freedom! Wow! It was absolutely amazing!

Remember how I have been in the same place for 12 years? After I shared that testimony at the women's conference, I asked myself why did I keep saying 12 years? As far as I knew, and as far as my journals showed, God had been telling me the same things since about my junior year in high school, which was only about 10 years ago. Yet it kept coming out of my mouth. 12 years, 12 years. Did I just think that was a good round number? What's with the 12 years thing? After I identified my stronghold, I thought about it. When this event happened, I was 15 years old. Now I'm 27. 12 years.

Later that day, I had to take the dog out. We don't have a fence in our backyard, so we have a large tree that we chain her to. No matter how fast she runs or what she does, she can't go anywhere else except around and around that tree. God showed me that it had been just like that for me. Spiritually, I was chained to that year of my life and just went around and around it, never going anywhere. But I'm not chained anymore! I broke free! Hallelujah!

The night I received the book "Never Give Up" by Joyce Meyer, I read this, "I wonder how many times people give up just before a breakthrough, on the very brink of success. You can feel the same way for ten years and then suddenly, one day you wake up and everything will change." I broke free from my stronghold 2 weeks later to the day.

Thank you all for sharing your own struggles/victories and sharing with me in mine, and thank you so much, Jess, for inviting me to Break Free with you!

New Generation of Children Praying