The 7 Powerful Words That Set Me Free
Sitting in a conference-style chair, in a large room full of women that I didn’t know, it happened.
I still remember the intense feeling of warmth engulfing my body. Adrenaline raced through my veins and my stomach began to contract and tighten. Goosebumps began to appear on my forearms and the tiny hairs on them stood at attention.
I remember noticing this extreme physical reaction to seven simple, yet powerful words that would literally change my life.
“The Lord your God fights for you…” Joshua 23:3
Growing up as the eldest child in my family, I was expected to bear the weight of certain responsibilities.
My mother divorced my father when I was about four years old. That meant she would need to go out and earn a living for our young family of four. Our lives would never be the same. Within a year, we would economically be considered living below the poverty level.
As unbelievable as this may seem, I became responsible for watching over my younger brother and sister at the age of five.
I would be considered their “little mama” for the next eleven years.
I was utterly afraid most of the time. I would always wonder if my mother was going to come back when she would leave for work. Not because I thought she would intentionally abandon us, but what if she just couldn’t come home.
I remember the rules quite clearly. Do not answer the phone. Do not open the door. Do not look out of any windows.
I also remember the consequences of breaking just one of the rules, even if it was only once. My brother, sister and I were picked up by Child Protective Services because I broke a rule and answered the phone.
Answering that phone almost cost me everything that meant something in my life. I learned my lesson and never made that mistake again.
I also learned to fight for what mattered to me. Never to let anyone take what was mine. I learned this lesson so well that as I grew into adolescence, I could have been considered a prizefighter.
I fought my way through being bullied and mocked in elementary school. I fought for my brother and sister. I fought sexual predators. I fought any and everyone that was perceived as a threat to myself and my family.
By the time I was an adult, fighting was simply a way of life. When I say fighting I don’t just mean physically fighting, I mean being confrontational, angry, resentful, vengeful, defiant, oppositional, and self-destructive.
I’d grown up in the church. Somehow, I didn’t receive the message that God loved me. That I was meaningful. All I knew was that I was afraid …and it hurt. So I kept fighting.
On December 10th, 2013 at around 10:30 am, a call came through to my office. It was my brother, “ Mom is dead,” he stuttered in shock. “Mom is gone,” he said again, in an attempt to soften the blow but also to allow the news to sink in. I felt weak. I got up to stand and fell back into my chair. My stomach felt like I’d been punched so hard that I couldn’t breathe.
My greatest fear had just become reality.
I was so lost.
My mother had been discussing salvation with me for years. I’d study my bible but didn’t really make any sort of real commitment. I’d go to church here and there, always the “visitor.” She wanted me to know God, to know that I was loved. But I was resistant.
However, there was one prominent commandment that resonated with me during that time. “Honor thy father and thy mother…” Exodus 20:12
Above is my mother. She loved Christmas, so we like to use this picture of her.
I wanted to honor my mother by being someone that she would be proud to call her daughter. She had sacrificed so much for us. The hard work it took to raise us and make sure that we had things that we both needed and wanted. She made the best of any situation. She was my inspiration.
Nearly a year after my mother passed, I was in complete despair. Self-destructive, angry, and volatile.
I found myself wondering what my purpose in life was. The urge to seek out that knowledge became powerfully compelling. It was like an obsession.
One day, I wandered into a Christian bookstore driven by the same overwhelming urge to seek out my purpose. There I found a book. Now, the title of the book is not important. What’s important is that it prompted me to seek out a church for clarification on some of the topic points.
While attending a local church, I began to have more questions. Those questions began to prompt a familiar nagging urge for more knowledge.
Before I knew it, I was attending church regularly.
I decided to check out a women’s bible study group that was meeting on Wednesday’s. It seemed interesting, something about Glory Days. We were going to be engaged in a six-week study by a man named Max Lucado. I’d never heard of him, but “at least I’d be learning something,” I thought.
On Wednesday, I entered a large white room, the last classroom in the corridor. The space was filled with women that I didn’t know. I spotted an empty conference-style seat next to a sweet-looking lady and sat down.
After the study leader opened with prayer and began the lesson, I became completely emerged in what Mr. Lucado was saying. Hanging on his every word, he uttered the five words that literally took my breath away. More importantly, those words changed my life course forever.
Here is the full verse:
“One of you can put a thousand to flight, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as He promised.” Joshua 23:10
You see, I’d been fighting my whole life. Fear fueled my anger and pain.
When all I really wanted was to be free from fear. I was so tired, my soul felt weary.
I learned that I didn’t have to fight anymore. I laid down my fear right there at that moment. I could leave that room in peace because God would fight for me …He promised.
May you find HOPE and REST like Claudea. Above is her lovely contribution to our POWER OF WORDS series. Here is more wonderful in the series:
Another sister shares openly about her victory over pain when WORDS HURT. Learn, and be inspired, by wisdom from Jerusha’s Christian heart: Sticks and Stones
Thank you for letting us share from our hearts. We invite you to enjoy other parts of this series, to come back often, or subscribe, and leave us a note in the comments. If you missed it >> Introduction to series: The POWER of WORDS