When was the last time you felt truly free?


Was it childhood? Was it last weekend? Was it when you hiked to the top of that mountain? Was it sitting around a table with dear friends? Was it before the diagnosis, before the loss, before the hurt happened?

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom these days. I’m leading a book club discussion with eight other women in their twenties, and we’re going through the book “You Are Free” by Rebekah Lyons. She’s the one who posed that question, and it hasn’t left my mind since.

When was the last time I truly felt free?

I think it was college. I think it was when I had finally ended that too-long, too-unhealthy relationship, when I was living with incredible girls, when I was in a stunning valley town with mountains all around me, when I was plugged into a rich and vibrant college ministry, when I was part of a beautiful community, when I was chasing my passions and pursuing my dream field of study, when I had all the free time in the world to spend with people and with Jesus. That was freedom.

I lost sight of it after graduation. I got caught up in the rat race, going through job interviews and job training and job promotions, dating different guys, finding new places to live, keeping more busy than was healthy. I started to feel a lot less free.

But the thing about freedom? In Christ, we ARE free. Even if we don’t feel it, we are. Even when we’re struggling with sin, we are free. We just are. But we don’t choose that kind of radical freedom Jesus offers us very often. It’s so much more tempting to choose bondage, to choose sin, to choose pleasure and selfishness instead.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, we read in Galatians 5:1. Christ did not come to set us free so we could slip back into bondage again. I don’t say that to guilt you or shame you if you’ve lost sight of freedom (because goodness, so have I), but instead to invite you (and myself) into a truer, freer way of living.

When I think back on those college years when I felt truly free, I realize trends. I realize how important community and close friendships were to my freedom. I realize spending time in nature was essential. I realize being plugged into ministry and leadership roles was crucial. I realize balance between work and play mattered. I realize pursuing Christ above all else was a game-changer.

And the thing about all of those trends? They aren’t lost forever. They aren’t too far gone. Whatever trends you see when you think back on when you felt truly free, they aren’t stuck in the past either. I can do more of those things in my life now, and so can you. I’m already doing quite a few of them (I bet you are too), and they’ve been helping to bring me into a more joyful and free way of living.

It isn’t easy to live like we’re free, I know. The world doesn’t want us to believe we’re truly free. If we lived like we were free in Christ, we would live very differently than our culture tries to convince us to live. We probably wouldn’t spend as much money on silly things to try to make ourselves feel better or look better. We probably wouldn’t try to numb ourselves with things the world promises will make us forget our pain. We probably wouldn’t be as interested in celebrities and public figures, because we’d be more confident in our own identities. We probably would be calmer, more sane, more patient, and we’d argue on social media a lot less.

When we live like we know we’re free, we look different. We ARE different.

Confident. Content. Brave. Beautiful. Strong. Secure. Rooted. Grace-filled. Gracious. Love-filled. Peaceful. Compassionate. Merciful. At ease. Forgiven. Truly free.

Isn’t that a lovely picture?

Don’t you want that?

I do.

It’s ours– already. That freedom has been hard-won for our sakes.

I want to live like I know I’m free. In Christ, because of the great lengths to which he went to save me, I am set free. It is for freedom that he died the death he did and conquered every bit of my sin and my shame. It is for true, unending freedom that I am–praise Jesus–set free.
Let’s live into that freedom today, believers.

Rachel Dawson

Author Rachel Dawson

Rachel Dawson is a believer, editor, writer, social media manager, and bookworm living in Richmond, VA. She's the design editor for a handful of Christian sites by day, and runs The Rising blog and quite a few other creative and community-building endeavors on the side. You’ll often find her in coffeeshops with her nose in a book and a vegan latte in hand, but she’ll drop everything to swap stories and talk about Jesus with you. She also loves the Enneagram, doodling her sermon notes, Instagramming too much, tacos, and sharks... you know, the important things. You can find her online at racheladawson.com or @racheladawson on Twitter and Instagram.

More posts by Rachel Dawson