BY KATIE FOLEY
Over the past six weeks, we’ve been learning about the gift of freedom and what that looks like through casting your cares on Jesus and surrendering your life to three words: faith, hope, and trust. While it’s so easy to say that you want to live in freedom, what if you don’t want to face what has stripped your faith, hope, and trust?
I hate to be the devil’s advocate, but I’ve actually approached this sermon series differently than others might have. See, I have a hold on my heart and to be free - I’ve realized that I have to face it head-on.
While I’ve gone through some typical hardships of losing friends and minor job shifts, I’ve really never felt tied down or someone who would consider herself hopeless. That changed this past March.
I come from a strong lineage of women. Women that are faithful to God and faithful to their family. When I think specifically about my mom and grandma - I see joy. Back in 2009, I first learned that my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. It was bad. It was really bad and still she fought through it. She was our miracle woman until she noticed something after my wedding in 2017. The cancer was back. Never in our minds did we think that she couldn’t fight it. She was strong. She was faithful. God used her the first time to minister to people so why wouldn’t he do the same thing this time?
She was weak, but her heart was strong. I had President’s Day off this past year and decided that I would go visit her. I spent that whole day with my grandma and mom laughing and talking about life. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would see her.
I remember getting the call from my dad, as my husband and I were already on our way to Dayton, that she had passed. I started screaming. As my husband turned the car around to get funeral clothes, I couldn’t function. I couldn’t breathe. On March 24, I lost a huge part of me. I didn’t lose my faith, but I lost hope. I felt hopeless and empty.
Leading up to her funeral, I knew I had to speak. I started praying that the Lord would give me peace and the words to say. I emphasized on the word: strength. Lord, give me the strength for this hopeless soul to continue on.
I didn’t know how I would start my speech until I opened my laptop, put on Spotify and Tenth Avenue North just so happened to play. It was at that moment that I knew how I would start my speech.
But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go.
I used that time at the podium to share my pain, but to also let Him know that my faith felt thin.
As the series at Grace has progressed, I’ve realized that I have complete faith that He works out everything for the good of those that love him. I have faith that one day I will embrace her again, but I feel hopeless.
I’ve realized that my days feel longer, my heart feels heavier and my tears are more consistent. I’ve also realized that I need hope, but I that I need to allow my heart to be free to feel all of the emotions. For months, I’ve walked around like a zombie. I’ve made people think things are okay or I’ve personally felt that I have to be strong so that my mom won’t be sad. I’ve had no freedom to grieve and I also haven’t wanted to.
Some days I don’t want to face the realization that my grandma isn’t here and that when I call her house, she will never pick up. I’ve allowed Satan to win by keeping me in the dark.
Through this series and refocusing on the Israelites and Moses - I’ve been reminded that God is near. Just as He led the Israelites through the Red Sea, He will lead me through these dark times of hopelessness. Ultimately, I’ve learned that I deserve the freedom to live and to face the facts of life. For so long I’ve avoided emotions because I don’t want to feel pain and yet He says to me, “Get up, my beloved child. There will be sad times, but I have conquered the world and you will conquer today.”
Whatever you need freedom from, be reminded that you (and I) will persevere. Just as in that song, He is with us and He won’t let us go. Maybe you’re like me and you didn’t exactly know what you needed freedom from until you realized you’ve been avoiding that hold on your life. My prayer is that all of us slowly grow to a place where we can experience deep and pure breaths of relief. That’s what freedom is all about: breathing, believing, and having hope.
Next weekend, we start a new series called Anything Can Happen. It will focus on a life of hope, happiness, and more when we are in a relationship with Jesus. I invite you to join. I know I'll be there. Because in the midst of hard days, we all need a little hope.
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