What’s Holding You Back From Living Free?


The word glared at me, an accurate definition of how I’d been living my life for, well…all my life.

I’d lived in a world wrapped up in Fear’s clutches and the need to do it all right. And when I didn’t, Shame told me I was no good. Doubt stepped in and made me question myself and created false views of God. And Anger became my constant companion, always bubbling below the surface.

The day the word “Fugitive” crashed against my soul was the day I finally started to live free. I felt my soul unwind a little. Blinking, I was able to step out of the dark cell I’d been living in and face the light.

There is power in naming, in looking at the state of our souls and calling out what we see there. It helps unbind us. It helps kick out that funk that showed up and we couldn’t figure out why. It helps us look at the source of our emotions and deal with them, rather than letting them control us.

Here are some things that often hold us back from freedom:


Shame is sly. He slithers in and hisses lies that the soul so easily believes. Often those lies target your identity. They drown out the truth of who God says you are. God says you are forgiven, redeemed, whole, loved. Shame whispers that you are silly, stupid, uninformed, and unable.

You are nothing.

Shame breaks down your confidence and makes you shrivel up and shrink back. Your goal is perfection, lest Shame show up again to bully you some more.

Shame thrives on performance, on getting you to think that grace and love are set on a grading system, and if you fail, well, no grace for you.

But Shame does not define you.

If this is your funk, name it. Then ask God to tell you the truth about yourself and your situation.

You are loved. You are adored. You are worth Jesus’ very life, His blood. He sacrificed Himself for you because He wants to be with you. And today He wants you to know that Shame no longer has a hold on you. You no longer have to believe those lies.


Doubt is devious and targets your core beliefs. She makes you question everything–yourself, your abilities, others, and God. She tries to deceive you with distance, assuring you that God is too far away to care or have any influence in your life. She assures you that you are incapable and that others don’t care like they say they do.

Doubt is quiet, sneaking in and robbing your confidence in those things you once believed so strongly. Or perhaps you never quite believed; she digs her claws in there too. She is agile, jumping to different corners of your heart, always on the hunt for an opportunity to tear down what you thought you knew.

Has Doubt been having her way with your heart? Have you found yourself questioning, having trouble believing? Name it. What have you been doubting? And please, don’t let Shame whisper here too. It’s okay if you’re doubting. But don’t get stuck here. It’s time to do a little exploring and decide what you do believe.

Do you believe God is good? Do you believe that He cares about you? Do you believe that He is in control? Do you need a reminder who you are in His eyes? Do you believe you have worth and value, and that those things are already part of your identity, not something you have to work for?

Don’t be afraid to bring your questions and doubts before Him. Ask Him. Search His Word for answers. And believe that He’ll show up and show off.

You don’t have to have it all together, or even know what you fully believe right this second. Take time to explore. And when you do reach some conclusions, be ready with them the next time Doubt tries to get the upper hand. Remind her what is true.


Fear is loud and threatening. All he sees is what could go wrong, and that’s all he wants you to see too. Fear is a ball of nervous energies and a million and one worst possible scenarios. He takes control of your imagination and sets it on a tilt-a-whirl. He finds ways to effect not only your mind, but your body too, taking the stress and anxiety to a new level as your stomach knots and your head hurts, and you just don’t have the strength to get out of bed.

All Fear has to do is shout one thing that could go wrong to begin the spiraling cycle into a dark, lonely place.

His friend is Isolation and his enemy is Peace. Because Peace puts him out of a job, sends him packing, and rights your world. He’ll do anything to keep that from happening.

But there is one who fights for you, who breaks through the loud clanging of Fear and speaks truth, strength, joy over you. Fear cannot stand when Peace is present.

Are you struggling with Fear? List all the worries and ask God to speak Peace to your heart. Let your mind dwell on what is true and real (Philippians 4:8), not what could-be or might happen.

Also, get with people. Fear has a stronger grip when you are isolated, when there is no one else around to remind you of the truth. Get with people, admit your fears, and step into the Peace that passes understanding.


Anger is flaming hot lava ready to explode. Sometimes he lashes out, other times he boils beneath the surface, turning your gut. He often shows up in the midst of hurt, when you’ve been wronged–recently or far into your past. He has a habit of rubbing old wounds and reminding you of the injustice of it all. He speaks entitlement and pushes his own ideas of what fairness is. He is not the righteous sort of anger, the one unwilling to settle for what is less than right, moral, or ethical. No, Anger creates an agenda for the self.

Anger is pent up emotion that hasn’t been shared or dealt with. Tucked away, he conspires for the impending explosion, using you hurt as a way to target another person’s vulnerable heart.

He is an endless cycle.

Anger itself is not wrong, but when stuffed down, rather than being dealt with, he can be quite dangerous to you and to others.

Anger’s worst enemy is Love. Love gets your eyes off yourself, turns your attention outward and upward. Love is the reminder that your hurt is seen and known. Love gives you freedom to strop clenching your fists and find true healing for that wound you’re carrying. Love breaks the filter of distrust through which you’ve been seeing this world and helps you see it all as God does–that this world is a broken place filled with broken people who need to know how dearly they are loved.

If anger is your funk, hash it out with the Lord. Scream, yell, scratch angry words into your journal, then sit back and let Love fill the gap.


This one might seem a little odd because the rest are all decidedly negative. But Dreams can have a role in why you are feeling how you are.

Dreams is quiet and can go unnoticed. When she’s confident, she is ambitious and goal-focused. She is tenacious and fearless. But when she’s forgotten or suppressed, she is restless, discontent, and unimportant. When she’s in this place, Dreams can quickly be joined by any of the others.

Shame can turn her into something ridiculous or improper.

Doubt tells us that she’s not capable of succeeding–not pretty enough, talented enough, or connected to the right people.

Fear keeps Dreams in the shadows, telling her that if she tries to pursue anything worthwhile, she will fail.

Anger joins the party, taking on every hurtful word and creating a red-hot wound he rubs raw.

But if we can take a step back, if we can separate her from the other members, Dreams caries with her a new level of freedom.

There is freedom to take a risk. There is the freedom to try and fail, recognizing that failure is actually learning that helps you get to your goal. There is freedom to let go of the lies and the opinions of others to do what your heart was created to do.

Because when you chase your dreams, Joy steps in because you were created for this. Your soul lights up and though some days you feel drained, most days you feel energetic and excited.

Name your dreams. Write them down. Use this as an opportunity to bring the hidden out into the open, to lay your heart before the Lord and ask Him how to move forward.

Lord, you know I haven’t been myself lately. But I ask you to reveal my funk. Help me name it. Show me why I’m feeling the way I am. Bring healing where there is hurt. Bring peace where there is fear. Speak truth over shame and doubt. And if there is a dream I have been denying, bring that back to the surface and show me how to pursue it. Thank you, Lord for knowing my heart so well.

Live in His love!

Related: “I Want You to Be Free…”: God’s Heart for Us








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