A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege to pour into a sweet girl, who felt as if she could not escape her past. Even though her actions demonstrated she was moving forward, her mind kept going back and replaying situations again and again… and again. As we talked, I realized she had a prisoner mindset. According to Merriam-Webster, a prisoner is a person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody.
As a former prisoner to my past, I have learned how to fight against that mindset of shame, guilt, regret, embarrassment, and fear. While I truly believe Jesus is the complete answer to freedom, I also think there are practical steps to grow out of a prisoner mindset into a pursuer mindset. When you’ve experienced freedom, not only do you find yourself chasing Jesus, but you begin to pursue all those who have yet to find their way out of that prison.
Here’s 7 practical steps– take 1 or take all- either way you are not called to live in chains.
1. Find someone who is currently walking with Jesus. Tell them everything. Confess it all. Put all your mess out in the open. Tell them the secrets you’ve kept in the dark for too long. Yes, even that secret. It’s time to get it out! (James 5:16)
2. Ask God what He thinks of you. Chances are you’ve been listening to lies for quite some time, so you need to know what truth says. Turn on some worship music, sit down with a notebook and simply ask God what He thinks of you. Fun fact- if anything comes to mind that makes you feel upset, sad, shamed, or any negative emotion- it is NOT from Jesus.
3. Take what you wrote down in that notebook of who God says you are and start identifying with those words. When you know who you are in Jesus, those lies cannot be attached to you. For example- my name is Jenn. If someone walked up to me and said “Hey, Kelsey!”, I would probably look at them funny and let them know my real name. Can someone please tell me why we don’t do this when it comes to God’s truth vs Satan’s lies?! If God already named me (worthy, cherished, loved, beautiful, favored, etc), Satan cannot tell me I’m anything else (Isaiah 43:1-2). *Drops mic*
4. Understand that you have an enemy that wants to keep you locked up. A believer that has found freedom is a threat to Satan and his plans. John 10:10 says he wants to kill, steal, and destroy your life. He wants you ineffective for the Kingdom. To dwell on the past is to forget you are called to more! Child of the King- your purpose has not expired! It’s time to remind Satan of HIS future instead of listening to the lies he says about yours.
5. Start rejecting thoughts that will turn your focus away from what Jesus has for you. I hate bugs with every ounce of my being, and if something flies remotely close to me- you best bet I am either running away or I am swatting with both arms flailing in the air (super attractive, I know). Walking in freedom does not mean you are in a bubble. You have to actively do something about it. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (aka swat those lies away like you would a bug). Here’s an example of what Satan has told me and how I fight against it:
- Satan: No one will ever love you. You’re ugly. You’re worthless. You are a mistake. You will always be stuck. There’s no way out of the mess you’ve made. You deserved it. You’re better off dead. Kill yourself.
- Me: Jesus, these things spoken against me are not what you say about me. I know I’ve believed those lies before, but I am taking this pile of words and laying it at your feet so my hands will be free to grab on to You and Your truths. I am loved by my Creator. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose. I am free in Jesus name! I will not focus on my past because You have more than I could ever imagine prepared for me! Everything that Satan tried to destroy me with, Jesus I give you permission to use it all for your glory! I will live and not die!
6. Cut ties of the past. Time to delete that phone number. And yes, unfollow him/her on all social media. Your fear of missing out on their posts allows Satan an opportunity to hit you when you least expect it. Don’t give excuses as to why you can’t unfollow them. Have a friend click the “unfollow” button if it’s that hard for you. If you truly want freedom, you have to think like a free person. Imagine you were in jail for 15 years grubbing on that luxurious prison food *sarcasm*. Then one day when you finally got out- would you go back to grab a prison meal once a week? I sure hope you’d say no. Listen, I get it’s hard when you’ve been familiar with someone and you’ve experienced life together, but Jesus has more for you. I’ve heard the “he/she doesn’t have anyone and really needs me”- and to that I’d say God needs you to stop relying on yourself for their healing and provision. In the real world, if 2 people are extremely sick- they’d go to the doctor for healing, not each other. I’m just sayin’…
7. Spend time with believers that are stronger than you in their faith (Proverbs 13:20). And stop thinking you’re not good enough or don’t have anything to offer them. If you’re in the gym and decide to bench a grueling 400lbs, who would you prefer to spot you? Me- who can bench the 45lb bar OR muscle man- who can bench a car. It would make much more sense to have muscle man spot you, right? Because if that bar falls on your chest, I sure couldn’t help ya! Same with your spiritual strength- get around people who have been walking this walk.
Freedom is awaiting you, dear friend. Find someone you trust and tell them all your secrets, find out what God loves about you, tell Satan bye, tell the lies buh-bye, cut off anything that reminds you of the past, and surround yourself by lovers of Jesus. That prisoner mindset you once had is replaced by a pursuer mindset- go free others, now.
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