Freedom Friday: 20 Years of Torture & Unnecessary Shame

img_20160930_144721You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous.”-Psalm 139:13,14 NLT

I will admit that this has been one of the hardest scriptures for me to believe in the bible. It has been very difficult for me to say, “Thank you for my body.” This is due to all of its deformities. I have a severely clubbed right foot that makes my right leg and foot significantly smaller than the left side. I was born with a dislocated hip, congenital scoliosis, and missing chest bone. I will admit that after my hair and face, in my most jaded opinion, my body goes downhill.

To add to the disfigurement, I am also left with scars on my foot, leg, and back as doctors made attempts to correct the way I was “knitted together in my mother’s womb.” It has been very difficult for me to believe that a God who carefully created creation seemed to have missed a few steps while creating me. Of my mother’s four children, I seemed to carry the physical deformities for everyone. No one else was born with a physical deformity. For years I never questioned it, but I would be lying if I said at one point or another that I did not find myself envious of their “normal” bodies and disgusted by mine.

At 12 years old, I pronounced a life sentence of shame and hiding upon myself. I stopped wearing clothes that would reveal what I hated most about me. I stopped wearing sandals because I no longer felt like explaining my condition to people. I did not want pity or sympathy. I just wanted to be normal. So I became a hider, and into my closet I went hoping to never have to face these legs of mine again. If I hid them, they would eventually go away. Now that I am 31 years old, I can say that was the dumbest idea ever in the history of Charity’s dumb ideas. I literally signed my life away when I decided to start hiding my legs. I stopped swimming. I did not try out for any dance or cheer team because it meant I would have to show my legs. I almost quit softball one year because I thought they were going to make me wear shorts. I removed myself from any activity that required your legs or feet to be seen.

As God would have it, the one activity I could continue was dancing. Our liturgical attire was always long and covered! The only thing that gave me assurance that God meant to put me in this body is that even with my deformities, I am still able to dance. Some of my moves are limited, but I am able to dance unto His glory. He gave me a voice, and I use it for his glory. He has given me the gift of counsel, wisdom, and writing. I use them all  for his Glory. The interesting thing is nothing about my physical deformities have stopped the gifts of God from operating through me. The only thing that has hindered those things at any time have been my mind. I have allowed the “what ifs” to keep me from doing. What if my legs become a meme? What if the men who follow me find out and unsubscribe? What if people start treating me with pity because they discover the truth? I never considered what if I share my story and help others overcome their own insecurities? What if my process of freedom convinces others to find freedom? What if God placed me on this earth as an example that the package is only limited by the mind not by its deformities or flaws? For 20 year I have allowed something that I had absolutely no control over ruin and rule my life. I was completely convinced that because I was born this way I was undeserving of love, friendship, and fulfilling my dreams. That was all a lie.

For years I was afraid of  photo tag notifications. I just knew that someone from elementary school would post a picture that would expose the secret I was hiding, and I would lose everyone once they found out the truth. None of my friends from junior high up until now have been privy of this information, minus those who knew before I started hiding and those who were at Oral Roberts University my Freshmen year. I was just too afraid of rejection, and the enemy had my mind convinced that if people knew the truth about me they would not want me around. However, now that I understand my purpose I must take that risk. God cannot get all the glory that is due Him if I remain in hiding.

The photo being used for this blog was taken on my birthday, July 25th, as I declared the 31st year of my life to be my year of freedom. I asked my sister to capture it because I wanted to see what freedom looked like. It has been twenty years since I have seen myself photographed in a dress and sandals. I had every intention of posting this pic that day but fear convinced me to wait. Well i’m tired of fear and shame ruling my life, and I did not consult them this time. I am tired of preaching freedom and living enslaved to thoughts of fear, rejection, and shame. I am tired of worrying myself with how people will respond to something beyond my control. I am tired of being hot during the summer LOL, and today is the day I free me for good. Even with what is deformed, disfigured, and ugly about me, I am still His workmanship. I am finally choosing freedom over fear, and that my friends is a marvelous thing!-Charity Israel

Throwback Thursday: Fearless, Free, and Five Years Old

I have roughly 56 minutes before the clock strikes 12 and Throwback Thursday will be over; but I could not let the day end without writing this blog. Have you ever ran across one of your childhood pictures and instantly remember everything you were experiencing that moment the picture was captured? In this particular picture I had just finished dancing with a few of my cousins, and I was thrilled that people were impressed by my moves. This picture was taken shortly after what I considered to be the best performance of my life at that time! LOL

I chuckled and happiness instantly hit my heart as I reflected on that joyous occasion of hanging with family. Then the joy became bitter-sweet as I longed for that boldness I had back then. I miss that Charity, and I have spent 20 years trying to be her again. That Charity was fearless, and she believed that anything was possible. That Charity did not allow her physical condition to determine what she could do. That Charity was unfamiliar with shame, and she loved the skin she was in completely. That Charity was not acquainted with how bad life could wound your soul. Her innocence was her superpower! She did not doubt herself, and she was not afraid to try anything. She believed that she was in fact “fearfully and wonderfully made by God!” She was amazing, and I’d be lying if I said that I have not been on a search for that Charity for years now.

After I turned 12 something died inside of me, and I felt like hiding in shame would be better than living as I was.I have spent almost 20 years of my life trying to find that freedom, boldness, and courage that I once possessed. It took me awhile, but I can say i’m finally starting to experience it again. I do not want to hide any more, and part of my purpose requires that I stop. The hypocrisy of preaching freedom and living captive to things I cannot change about me has finally caught up with me. How dare I preach freedom and not live it. No more running in shame, and tomorrow I will finally share what has held me as its slave for over twenty years. I have spent the last year of my life confronting the deep wounds of my life, and now that healing has occurred shame is no longer needed for me to function in life. Tomorrow a piece of me will be shared that I have tried to keep hidden from the world. Freedom Friday will be just that for me, and it’s about time I told my story. Until then thanks for riding down Memory Lane with me.

How Firm is Your Faith?

“…Unless your faith is firm I cannot make you stand firm.”-Isaiah 7:9

This was God’s response to King Ahaz in light of the threats that had gone out against Jerusalem. For the sake of time allow me to paraphrase the story. The word on the street was that King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel were plotting to attack Jerusalem. Fear began to consume the hearts of the people and the king of Jerusalem because of what they knew about the two forces that were coming against them. But God sent the prophet Isaiah to give a word to the king. This is what he says in Isaiah 7:4, “Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out-embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah…” God then shares his plans for both of those nations, and he concludes his words to King Ahaz by telling him, “Unless your faith is firm. I cannot make you stand firm.”

In other words, this is my promise to you, but I cannot make you believe it. You now have the option of living in fear because of what “they” said or in faith because of what God said. When the Alpha and Omega declares to you,” Do not worry about your enemies;” you should make it your business not to worry about your enemies. God knows they appear stronger in your sight, but He is greater than those who stand against you.

I also want us to take a moment to consider where the king of Jerusalem was standing when he received the word of the Lord from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 7:3 says,”…you will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool near the road leading to the field where the cloth is washed.” In other words, he was near the royal laundry mat which was symbolic of the enemies he was being threatened by. They were washed up! They were useless. God called them “two burned-out-embers.” They possessed no real power to bring harm to Jerusalem, and their threats were in fact harmless.

Please hear me loud and clear if God has given you a word concerning the defeat of those who rise up against you, BELIEVE IT. If God has given you a word concerning healing, restoration, deliverance, and etc., BELIEVE IT! You can be certain of these two things that God  upholds us in our integrity, and he fights for us. You cannot lose with a word from God, but you can wear yourself out by living in doubt and in fear. Today I pray you  choose faith, stand firm, and rest in the truth of God’s word concerning your life. You win!

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.skipcohenuniversity.com/uploads/1/6/5/5/16555372/1762985.jpg?524

Life Observation: Five Things Mature Adults Do

I won’t bore you with a long introduction. I’ll just get right to it. Here are five things I have noticed mature adults do:

  1. THEY COMMUNICATE. Adults who have matured pass high school in their brains have learned how to express themselves. They tactfully express their opinions, and they do not waste their time beating around the bush concerning a matter. They are not afraid of conflict, and they do not argue for the sake of being heard. They recognize the weight of their words, so they use discretion in both their tone and word choices. Mature adults do not wait for someone to figure out the problem. They voice it and seek ways to resolve it.
  2. THEY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS. Mature adults do not play the Blame Game. If the job was not done correctly, they admit where they messed up. If their marriage is failing, they accept their part in its’ failure. If their life is not where they desire it to be, they CHANGE IT. Mature adults introspect instead of project their issues on other people. They weigh the consequences of their actions. Once they recognize they made the wrong mistake, they acknowledge it. Mature adults DO NOT rely on others to fix the problems they have created. They assess the situation, rectify it, and move forward.
  3. THEY ARE COMFORTABLE IN THEIR OWN SKIN. Mature adults have accepted who they are and who they will never be. They have accepted their flaws, and they live free from the weight of being perfect. They are beautifully flawed individuals, and they celebrate what makes them unique. They do NOT waste their time comparing, envying, or desiring what others have. Wholeness of mind, body, and soul is their pursuit. They are so fixed on the idea of becoming a better person that they do not have time to worry about what others do. They are not perfect, and that truth does not bother them. They free themselves to enjoy life, and they encourage others to do the same.
  4. THEY ACCEPT PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE. Mature adults do not waste their time trying to change other people. They recognize that we are all evolving, and when change is desired people will seek it. Instead of trying to force change, mature adults choose to stick around (remain in relationship) or move around (end the relationship). They give people the freedom to be who they have decided to be. This does not mean mature adults do not address self-harming behaviors of friends, but they do give others the liberty to discover and enjoy life for themselves.
  5. THEY DO NOT TRY TO FIX BROKEN PEOPLE. Considering the time and effort mature adults have put into becoming whole, they do not waste their time trying to fix people who are unwilling to admit they are broken.  They recognize the value of their time and they choose to invest it in things that will produce a great return. Mature adults surrender broken people to their Creator, and they love broken people at a distance until they want more for themselves.

This list could and should be much longer, but this will do for now. If you see some you disagree with feel free to voice your thoughts. Different points of view are welcomed and respected. I encourage all of us to spend our time becoming better people. If you find yourself doing the opposite of these five things, I admonish you to reconsider your ways. You deserve to live in the freedom that responsibility offers those who take control of their own actions, decisions, and relationships. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://cdn.halloftheblackdragon.com/reel/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/man-and-woman-gaming.jpg