Free Woman/Slave Woman

The words sounded so lovely coming from my mouth; so kind and considerate and selfless.

“I don’t have a roommate preference, I’d be happy to stay wherever there is a need.  If someone needs a roommate, just put me with them!”

I was signing up for my church’s women’s retreat, and part of the registration form includes the ‘roommate’ blank to fill in.   And I wanted to ask a friend to room with me but worried about looking needy or loser-ish.  More than that I was worried about putting my request out there and being rejected.  Flashbacks of getting picked last or not getting an invitation to a party flooded my brain and took over.

Never has adulting felt so much like Junior High as when signing up for a lady’s event at church!!!

See, deep within my heart is just a little girl.  That’s all.  A little girl. She wants to be wanted as a roommate, but bigger than that, she just wants to be wanted as a person.  Preferred, chosen, worthy.  Wanted.

But that little girl lives inside a 35 year old woman, and letting my longing be seen and heard – or even worse, to have that longing rejected – felt like TOO MUCH for that particular Sunday.  So I cut it off at the pass.  Rather than living by the Spirit, I hid behind a veneer of righteousness. I didn’t know legalism could look like that.

‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Matthew 15:8

Outwardly one might see a woman so secure and free that she is led to love with amazing flexibility and thoughtfulness.  Wouldn’t that be nice if it were the truth!   Sadly just beneath the surface lies a fear of being seen as needy, not sure of her value to others, and afraid of rejection.  I was RULED by those feelings in that moment, and anyone who is RULED by another is also known as a slave.

Experience has shown me that we will all be slaves to something, we will be ruled.  Slaves to what other people think.  Slaves to money or success.  Slaves to an image or an idea or an idealogy.  Slaves to fear, slaves to shame, ultimately:  we are slaves to our own brokenness.

So when the bible offers all these nice words like Peace and Freedom – but then I see what is actually ruling my own heart in the most trivial moments – I wonder if I am missing something?

When Paul tries to show the Freedom we have in Christ to the churches in Galatia, he allegorically refers to Sarah and Hagar from Genesis.  While most of the time when I read this story, I can’t get past the weird gross factor of Sarah asking her husband to sleep with her slave Hagar so she would get pregnant with a child for Sarah.  (Eww.  Just….eww!)  But truth is this wasn’t out of the ordinary for this time and place in history.  When a culture is completely steeped in patriarchy and passing on land and property, having an heir is extremely important.  So it was quite normal, wise and good even, to have a servant around to ensure an heir.   (Eww.  Just….eww!)

Outwardly, one might see a prudent woman taking matters into her own hand and doing right by her husband to provide a son and even fulfilling the promise God gave them for descendants, yet sadly underneath, her heart would reveal a woman insecure and afraid and anything but free.

Rather than trusting in God’s Promise, His Goodness, His favor, His Character – I think all she saw was year… after year… after year…after year…of a barren womb.

So, she yanked the reigns out of God’s hands.  Cut Him off at the pass, before she could be scorned and shamed and disappointed a second longer.

In the story, Hagar is the servant, but I think on some level Sarah was a slave, too.

Confession:  I don’t always believe God’s promises, either.  So I too will yank the reigns out of God’s hands to accomplish what I fear He won’t.  But you won’t see addiction or substance abuse or dysfunction, you will see prudent. Or smart.  Or selfless.  Or holy.  Or Loving.   Or volunteering to have a random roommate at a women’s retreat.

What Sarah did with Hagar brings out the ‘eww’ factor,  but my own heart when I control, manipulate, strive and people please under the guise of Good Christian Girl – is nothing short of grotesque.  Eww.  Gross.  I don’t want that any more than Sarah really wanted Abraham to have sex with Hagar and have a son by her.

I realize that everything I do, no matter how nice looking on the outside, can be done either from a place of freedom, or from a place of slavery.

That picture I put on social media?

The workout I just did?

The way I just served?

The great Jesus-y decision I just made – is this because I am free in Christ, or am I enslaved to the notion that God doesn’t really like me and so I need to try a bit harder?

Workouts and pictures and serving and Jesus-y decisions are AWESOME!  All of them!!!

But all over the pages of scripture from the Old Testament through the New, I see painted in bright and vivid colors a God that is looking right past my awesome words and deeds, and is peering deep into my heart.  He is not impressed with my sacrifice.  He is not impressed with my shiny happy picture or how my new dress fits me or how high I lift my hands during our worship service (pretty darn high, by the way).  He’s not saying those things are bad, of course, He just has other questions for me.

What is in your heart, Kirsten?  Are you afraid?  Are you ashamed?  Are you lonely?  Are you doubting?  What is ruling you?  

He cares about the What, but more deeply He cares about the Why.  And that is because He cares about me.

John Lynch in his book Truefaced shares how we have two paths as Christians – one  which leads to Pleasing God and one which leads to Trusting God.  One is entered via human effort and leads to a life of striving, standards, and outward conformity, while the Other is entered via humility and leads to a life of authenticity, grace and ultimately inner transformation.  He writes “If my motive is trusting God (as opposed to Pleasing God) then my value will be living out of who God says I am”

Who God says I am.  

I am prone to forget that I already am all those things that my little girl heart longs for.  Preferred. Chosen.  Worthy.  Wanted.

In those moments when I really, I mean really, understand this – I am free indeed.

And in this freedom I can run up to my friend and set my longing right out there in front of her and say “Hey let’s room together at the women’s retreat!”

or, as one who has experienced adoption, healing and acceptance I can declare, not as a slave hiding behind fake holiness, but as a free woman living by the Spirit:

“I don’t have a roommate preference, I’d be happy to stay wherever there is a need.  If someone needs a roommate, just put me with them!”

 “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.  Hosea 6:6

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Galatians 5

Next weekend I am going on a women’s retreat with 70 of my closest church lady friends, all of whom I love and love me back, rooming with a girl I am getting to know a bit better and resting in the Lord’s love and provision in my life.  I can’t wait!

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