After recently attending a concert by Christian recording artist, Mandisa, I found myself pondering this question. Throughout the concert Mandisa gave parts of her testimony and often referred to Jesus coming to “set the captives free.” Hearing her testimony and witnessing her and her team worship through song and dance, it was clear she had been set free.
What I appreciated most in Mandisa’s sharing of her testimony was her genuine honesty about the struggle it is to walk in the freedom we have once we are set free by claiming Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As she said, “we have to choose freedom every day.” This reminded me of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In Galatians 5:13-15, he says, “You my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Mandisa shared as part of her testimony, her early experience in auditioning and being chosen for American Idol. As part of the experience, she was publicly humiliated by one of the judges, Simon Cowell, who made disparaging comments about her weight after she left the audition and had been chosen to move on to the next round. She did not hear these comments until she was excitedly watching the television premier of her performance surrounded by family and friends. She described that moment as being one of shock and extreme emotional pain. Thankfully, however, she was surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ who loved her through that time. Having been set free by Jesus along with the love of others, helped her to go on live television and publicly forgive Simon for his comments and give credit to Jesus for allowing her the freedom to forgive.
I felt so humbled, and I have to admit convicted as I heard her story. I can think of several times when I chose freedom in my flesh over “serving another humbly and with love,” especially when offended and hurt as Mandisa initially was upon hearing Simon’s comments.
As Mandisa shared, and I agree, even if we make the choice to love, it’s often difficult to carry out especially when we are blocked by emotional and spiritual wounds. Mandisa was able to work through her hurt and pain and feel the freedom in forgiving because of her faith and the support of other believers.
Mandisa’s message really stuck with me, and has come to mind even more as we approach Independence Day. As we prepare to celebrate our freedom as Americans, ask yourself what freedom means to you. If you are struggling in this area, I encourage you to consider whether there are those in your life that you need to forgive and/or if there are any areas where you feel that you need to be forgiven. As Mandisa found in going through this process, it is often helpful to have support from safe and trusted others. If you find yourself needing help in this area, please feel free to contact this office and schedule an appointment with one of our therapists.