Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sincerely, Freedom

I like words.  A lot.  That's not a secret.

I also like music.  Also not a secret.  You know what music has that most regular speech doesn't?  Rhythm.

I love writing, but one thing I've never been good at writing is poetry.  So instead, I listen to other people's poetry because sometimes, I hear somebody say something that mirrors exactly what is going on in my heart, something I couldn't find the words to say, and even if I could, it wouldn't sound as good as what I heard.

I've mentioned a guy named Jeff Bethke before.  He got famous from a spoken word poem he wrote that went viral on YouTube.  I didn't know what spoken word poetry was until I ran into his work, but I sort of fell in love with it.  It combines two things I love very much: it's poetry, so it's made up of words, but it also has a music-like rhythm to it that regular poetry doesn't have.  Well, through Jeff's YouTube channel, I found out about a guy named Nick Vitellaro, and I watched the two spoken word poem videos that he has online.

Now, y'all know me.  When I find something I like, whether it be a show, or a song/band, or a writer, I tend to latch onto it and listen to it over and over and over again and somehow never get tired of it.  I've watched Nick's two videos so many times in the past few days I've already lost count.  Call me weird if you must, I'm used to it with this habit of mine, but trust me, it's worth it.  Nick's poetry is just that good.  It's that powerful.

This first one is called "Sincerely Freedom".  It's actually a story of pornography and sex addiction, and while that specific aspect isn't something I can relate to, there's one section in particular that hit me hard.  It's something I think everyone can relate to, so I suggest you watch the full thing.

5:05 to 5:38 says this: "And I'll be honest, I don't have a twelve-step program, an informative pamphlet, or strategic plan.  I have no Visine or vaccine to help you see past your past, but let me pass you what I do have.  I have a Savior.  His compassion's new every day.  His faithfulness stays.  He made a way out of no way, turned my darkness into day.  The sacrifice made, our ransom paid, he took our place.  Blood poured down his face as he replaced our disgrace with his grace.  Buried for three days, but death could not contain! He left death in his grave! DEATH DIED THAT DAY!" 

Most of us don't have a sex or pornography addiction.  But what most of us, if not all of us, do have is something in our past that is tying us down.  It consumes us, it becomes our identity, and we feel like we'll never escape the control it has over our hearts and minds.  I know that, for me, that "thing" was my health issues.  They consumed my thoughts every second.  They were pretty much all I talked about.  They were who I was.  I was "the sick girl".....and then I found Jesus.  I found the identity he had waiting for me, the one of God's daughter, of redemption, of miracles, of grace and mercy and the power to tell people how He saved me.  Jesus died so that I could be released from the grasp that the enemy had on my life and my person.  Now, I still have health issues, but they are just a piece of my story, a piece that has been redeemed more beautifully than I could have ever imagined, a piece that I can use to show people the love of the Father.

The second is called "The Lost Sheep."  This was me.  I was the sheep Jesus left the flock to find.  I am amazed I haven't cried at how intensely I see my life story in this poem.

There were several quotes that jumped out at me with this one, which is funny since it's a lot shorter than the first video.

0:49-1:03: "But my weakness, my brokenness, was so much more real to me than the God these pastors claimed could set this sheep free.  'Cause where was this Shepherd?  Where was his flock?  Why haven't any of them tried to meet me in the darkness where I walk?"

Yeah...that about sums up my teenage years.  Countless Christian voices in my ears telling me of the God that loved me at my worst, but I didn't feel Him.  I didn't see Him.  I didn't see any of His people, whom I knew were supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ, try to meet me where I was and walk with me through it.  All I got were trite Christian phrases that meant nothing to me in my pain, until even they said I wasn't worth it and kicked me out.

1:25-1:38: "So like John Lennon, I imagined the Savior I wanted to see, but like Paul McCartney, I was scared, so I just let it be.  Drivin' around pimpin' in my yellow submarine, all the while screaming, 'Help! I need somebody.'"

First off, I appreciate anyone who can fit that many Beatles references into 14 seconds. ;)  Second, I remember how good I got when I went through those six brain surgeries in 2009 at making everyone around me believe that I was fine, that I was handling the struggles in my life just fine, while I was actually screaming on the inside, "HELP! I need somebody."  My mom couldn't help me.  My family couldn't help me.  Friends couldn't help me.  The doctors couldn't stop problem after problem from wreaking havoc on my body.  I was so blinded by my anger and pain that I couldn't possibly believe that God was helping me.  All I knew at the time was that I wanted to be rescued from the nightmare I was caught in.

1:58-2:10: "But see, you can't stargaze at the King of days without seeing the sun rays.  So when I heard that the Son raised on the third day, I realized that I was the sheep that was never even lost in the first place."

After I found Christ and started pursuing him, chasing after him with all the breath in my lungs, I realized that I was never out of God's sight.  Even when I hated Him, when I blamed Him for everything wrong in my life, He still kept an eye on me and watched my life and protected me from so many things that could have ended the life He had designed for me.  He never left.  I learned that part of His unconditional love means that He even loves the ones who don't love Him.

2:32-3:00: "Because my God is like Muhammad Ali in the ring, with the grace of a butterfly and the sovereignty of a King. He dodges every cold, fatal sting of death with the very same breath that put life inside my chest.  So if you call the Gospel trash, then I guess you have grasped the message, 'cause my God dumpster dives head first into wreckage.  He transforms recycled sinners into His very own reflection, so you can call Him a garbageman, 'cause He turned my mess into a message."

John 10:10 says "I have come so that you may have life, and have it to the fullest."  My God is the kind of God that lives by the mantra "Go big or go home."  He's not just okay with fixing one part of my life; He insisted on radically transforming every piece of my existence, right down to the core of who I was and who I saw myself as.  To human eyes and ears, my story is ugly.  It's full of pain and anger and depression and doubt and fear.  I know, because that's how I used to view my life.  But that's not the way God sees it or me.  God sees redemption, God sees brokenness made whole, God sees miracles, God sees grace and countless second chances and a story of a very broken little girl who came to life in the love and grace He had waiting for me all along.  And now I get to share this story with anyone and everyone who will listen.

3:12-3:18: "So praise the Lord, praise the Lord, come on, PRAISE THE LORD! 'Cause His pursuit after you is relentless."

And in that, I see the story of my life leading up to my baptism.  There were so many events before April 5, 2012, where I refused to recognize His presence in my life because I was scared, because I didn't want to give in.  But then He broke me.  And I praise Him for that every day, because my baptism was the start of the coolest ride I have ever experienced, and I wouldn't be where I am today or the person I am today, or have the story I do today if He hadn't chosen to keep pursuing me.  He never gave up.  Praise the Lord!

I love the Internet.  I love how I can come across the work of a guy I've never met, a guy who doesn't know me or my story at all, and somehow the words he wrote long before I ever knew he existed reflect my life and the struggles I face every day.  These two videos are a wonderful reminder to keep running on the path that God has laid out for me.  They're a reminder of my One Word, to keep seeking Him to help me release the demons of my past that still try to tie me down and hold me back from the John 10:10 life He wants for me.

The freedom I seek and desire can only be found in Him, so I'm gonna keep chasing after the Lord whose protection and love and grace over my life never quits.

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