Today’s scripture: John 10:10 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen-Bradford):

I watched a sad story about an alligator that had spent his entire life in a cage, barely big enough for him to turn around in. He was eventually rescued and placed in a large enclosure, while he received medical attention and care. Even though he was free to roam in a relatively vast space, he still stayed within the boundaries of the invisible cage. They’d freed his body, but his mind was still imprisoned.

I know how that alligator feels.

I’ve been held captive by dysfunctional mindsets my entire life. I’ve grown up living within the boundaries drawn for me, and, even though I am free, I find I still stay within them. I’m comfortable in uncomfortable situations, mainly because I’m used to them.

I am free. It’s true. I’ve been rescued. I can roam and play where I like, but I still stay within the small space I have grown to both hate and treasure. I’m so used to the bars of my cell that my world seems unsafe and overwhelming without them. The Bars block me from enjoying my life and pursuing my dreams.

Bars that say things like: “You haven’t worked hard enough if you don’t come home tired,” or “You’re not a good person if you don’t sacrifice your own needs for the desires of others.” Or the one I really struggle with: “You are not allowed to live a life of joy, abundance and rest. You are a beast of burden born to struggle.”

My body is free, but my mind is not.

The alligator eventually began to roam about his new surroundings. It took time and patience, but he ultimately realized those bars were no longer there. I, too, am slowly but surely realizing I am no longer a prisoner of the past.

I find myself saying, “No” more often as a complete sentence. I actively pursue my dream of doing what I love and spend time with the one I love. I feel less guilt and condemnation when I take time to relax and enjoy the day, even if there is laundry piled up or dishes are in the sink. I’m learning to set clear and consistent boundaries at work and to take time to allow my body to recover.

Sometimes, we can find ourselves living within the bondage of the past, even though Christ has freed us to live a life of freedom, abundance and joy. Today, I invite you to examine the invisible bars which hold you back. What are they saying to you? How are they stopping you from enjoying your life? What steps do you need to take to begin to live life to the fullest?

Prayer for the day: God, thank You for the gift of freedom. For those of us raised in captivity, freedom can seem scary and overwhelming. Guide us as we learn to enjoy our lives, leaving feelings of guilt, shame and fear behind.   Help us to see all that You have for us, teach us to indulge in each and every blessing You have in store. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

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