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The Rooted Blog: How I Moved From Caged to Free

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“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

Of things unknown but longed for still

And his tune is heard on the distant hill for

The caged bird sings of freedom.”

From “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

I used to dream of freedom from worry and fear.

I craved rest and peace.

As a young woman, I was driven, constantly worrying about what others thought. Finally, a trusted high school teacher and coach confronted me, “You’re like a duck, paddling hard under the surface, though you look calm on the surface.” He was right. I worked hard at hiding my inner turmoil.

Later on in life, I suffered from anxiety, worried that I couldn’t meet deadlines or make people happy. During those years, I juggled roles: Wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher. I didn’t know, then, that the daily knots in my stomach, constant headaches, and inability to sleep was anxiety. Living to please people was exacting a toll on my health and wearing me out.

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If you’re like me, our roles and emotions overwhelm and preoccupy us. As mothers, we may carry our children’s hurts. As married women, we may feel distant from husbands. Some of us may even shoulder hurtful words or abuse from that marriage. As working women, we may feel caged by demanding jobs or consumed by guilt. And over and over we recite our fears. “I’ll never be pretty enough.” “I’ll never be smart enough.” “I’ll never be loved.” We recite our shame. “If only I hadn’t…”

“Freedom for all captives!”

Jesus announced, “Freedom for all captives!”  When Jesus announced freedom for captives, he was quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 61:1, the word “release” is the same word used for a bird taking flight. Now, picture that caged bird. Someone opens the cage and sets it free. Free, it takes flight. Free from hurt. Free from guilt. Free from fear. Free from shame.

Freedom has come. His name is Jesus.

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Living Free

Freedom from captivity is lived out moment by moment, day by day. Over the years, almost twenty now, I continue to tell Jesus,

“Show me what has me captive.”

“I want all of the freedom that you have to give me.”

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Daily, the power of stories amazes me–moves me, shapes me–an ordinary wife, mom, teacher, writer, Jesus-follower.

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