I’ve heard it said that a person will change when the pain to change is less than the pain to remain the same. That statement makes one thing very clear: it is painful to do nothing about your situation, and it is painful to do something about it. However, there is a big difference between the two scenarios. Remaining the same causes the pain to increase and to never resolve keeping you in an unrelenting, tormenting cycle of pain; but doing something about it reveals a light at the end of the tunnel. Dealing with pain is temporarily difficult, but once the issue is resolved, the cycle is broken, and pain loses its grip on your life bringing you into the freedom Jesus paid for you to have. That is good news!
What keeps people from moving out of their misery and into freedom? Often the biggest issue is denial. Step 1 in the 12-step program addresses that. Before you can ever hope to make a change, you must admit that there is a problem. Some fear change because they do not know what the process will be like or what they will have to go through. The fear of remembering, dealing with, and admitting the hurtful things of the past are too much for some to face, so they turn away from any hope of being free because they will not face the events that brought them to this place of misery. Still, others have become comfortable in their misery mainly because it is familiar and they know what to expect from their current mindset. They know the triggers that will set them off like a stick of dynamite and are comforted by the predictability of them; others have their identity built upon their behaviors or by what has happened to them. They don’t know who they are outside of the bondage or the mentality. Some want to be free but do not believe that they are worthy or that God can help them. Lastly, many people need to forgive and are simply not willing to do it, even though the unwillingness keeps them in a place of torment (Matthew 18:21-35).
What causes misery in our lives? There are several things I want to identify, but I do want to make a clarification at the beginning. Many people end up where they are because of the actions of others. Heinous crimes are committed against humanity every. single. day. It is unjust, wrong, sick, and ultimately against the original design of humanity. God created individuals with a part of Himself and with the capacity and desire to live and conduct life in His presence. Sin has caused humanity’s current condition, not the will of God. God paid the price to reconcile us to His presence, but we have to learn how to crucify the flesh and follow the Spirit.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25
In spite of the things that have happened to us, we have a choice to make. We can allow the effects of the events to direct us, or we can put an end to the internal turmoil those events brought to us. This article is not to diminish the tragic events that have occurred in anyone’s life; those things are solemnly recognized and grieved. However, Jesus paid the price for freedom, and it would be a greater tragedy not to embrace what He gave us. This article is to point to Jesus and Him as deliverer!
The fruit of tragedy, violence, and abuse is great suffering within an individual, or family. Suffering leads to bondage, cycles of sin, addiction, co-dependency, etc. Strongholds, such as fear, rejection, anger, and pride, form and direct behavior, perception, and beliefs. You can believe something in your head, but if your actual belief system – the one in your heart – is not in agreement with your head, your behavior will match what’s in your heart the majority of the time. The problem is what is in your heart is not always the truth. Lies come to us in moments of vulnerability, and because they feel true, we believe them. Because we believe them, we act upon them. When we move upon lies, we are sinning, and we must identify the lie, repent for believing it, forgive, and receive God’s forgiveness and love. Steps 4-6 speak about this.
How do we move from pain and misery to freedom? Here are some simple (I said simple, not necessarily easy) steps to take:
- Admit there is a problem.
- Submit to the Lordship of Christ. Maybe you have never made Jesus the Lord (boss – the one in charge) of your life, if not, do so now. Maybe you have made Jesus Lord of your life, but maybe you’ve only given Him access to certain areas. Now’s the time to give Him access to all.
- Transform mindsets by renewing your mind (your thinking) in the Word of God.
“And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
The word of God must be the highest instructional authority in your life. You must learn it, accept it as truth, declare it, and act upon it.
Here’s a little tip about making declarations from the word: sometimes God’s word seems too good to be true, especially when we compare it to what we know of ourselves and how we feel about ourselves. This conflict is where truth is challenging lies in your life. When you declare the truth of God’s word over your life, you are acknowledging that God’s word IS truth and that you agree with it. It is how HE sees you. Remember, you are in the process of changing your belief system and transforming mindsets. You are not lying when you declare how God sees you over your life, but when you state something contrary to what God says, you are lying.
We stand in agreement with God that all His plans for you will come to pass. Freedom is available, but you must make the choice to enter into it. What is YOUR first step?