Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D.
James Baldwin said, “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I made the decision, and God knows I had no fancy terminology or philosophy, but at some point in my childhood I remember thinking, “I am going to be free.” Perhaps it was borne out of the hopelessness that dripped from their words and the despair that was etched in the faces of so many in my community.
It is certainly plausible that my own struggles to find my identity after being victimized as a child propelled me to this conclusion. Whatever the case, I was determined to chart my own course and when Whitney Houston released her version of The Greatest Love of All, she gave wings to my thoughts, “I decided long ago never to walk in any man’s shadow.”
Unfortunately, much like Ms. Houston, my quest for freedom initially led me down a path of rebellion for rebellion’s sake. True, I had some unfortunate incidents in my life (who doesn’t?), but it was my response that while outwardly projected a girl in charge of her destiny, inwardly masked a debilitating fear that I would soon be discovered to be a fraud.
After many years of working really hard and failing to find validation, significance and freedom in my numerous accomplishments, I had to re-think my life. I had to re-think how enslaved I was to my past and the anger I still felt towards those who had wronged me. I had to re-examine my penchant for going against the grain just because. I had to scrutinize my motivations and expectations for my choices.
No one was going to make me feel whole and free. No one was going to give me permission to be free. I had to choose to be free and it is a choice made in the present as opposed to some elusive ghost out there in an uncertain future. I stopped thinking “I am going to be free.” I started choosing to be free in each moment.
Free to embrace the magnificence God has placed in me. Free to celebrate the flaws that distinguish me. Free to wake up and enjoy my day, no matter what. Free to find the beauty even in my pain. Free to choose not to be paralyzed by critics, loved ones and such. I am free and you are too, if you so choose.
The key to breaking free is found in two short commandments Jesus gave: Love the Lord, your God with all your heart and soul; and love your neighbor as you love yourself. The Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. God himself is love and he is the perfect love. As you and I learn to love him, and believe and act on what he says, we grow in love and appreciation for ourselves and that increases our capacity to love others. The more we love, the less we are shackled by fear, hurt and regret and the freer we become.
Are you ready to break free and find the joy in life again? Love God. Meditate on who he says you are. Love others generously. Stop waiting for someone else to unlock your prison doors. Put aside pride and seek help in the areas where you sense you are struggling. Break out of your old, destructive patterns of thinking. The keys are in your hands. Break free! I wish you an abundant life.
Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Christian Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live up to their highest potential. She and her husband live in Central Texas with their five miraculous children. For more information, visit www.ayaeneli.com, follow her on twitter @ayaeneli or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.