The Five Stages of Freedom

Stage 1: Illumination — Peek Inside Yourself
Light can be an ally or a nemesis. Sitting at a vanity with palettes of eye shadow, blush, foundation, and lip liner, a woman has all the tools for a successful makeover. Use the wrong light, however, and you can easily end up looking like a clown. One well-placed fluorescent light can illuminate the intrinsic hues in the makeup and, more importantly, in your skin tone. The right light helps you see the true you. Every blemish and imperfection is laid bare beside every area of smooth complexion. After taking an inventory of what you have to work with, the artist in you can visualize what you want the canvas to display and work toward that goal.

Life is a canvas on which to create and dream. Each person is designed to be a unique work of art breathed into being by the Master Creator. However, each person has the same purpose: to bring glory and praise to the Creator. Art should not be hidden but displayed for others to experience and enjoy. Have you noticed that fine art is typically placed under a spotlight? How better to see the fine details stroked into existence behind the central scene? What better way to see the signature of the artist on the work, signifying his approval of the finished product? You are a work in progress that God wants to illuminate.

Crafted into the details of your personal story are unique colors of life. The pastels of joy and peace, the neutral colors of everyday activities, the vivid streaks of past pains and trials, and the bold accents of triumph and victory. Without these variations, each life would become a carbon copy of the one before it. Thankfully, the Master Creator is not out of ideas on how to create unique masterpieces out of the ups and downs of our lives — masterpieces that once on display have the potential to convey a message to all who see them.

As living art forms, we have the ability to move in and out of the light. We can choose whether to be illuminated for deeper examination by ourselves and others. Or we can choose to remain in the shadows where we will only see in part who we were designed to be, limiting our ability to inspire. You are the number one observer of your life’s art, and you deserve an illuminated view. If you look closely enough you will see the Master Creator’s signature of approval written upon you.

Stage 2: Activation — Change Is Hard Work and It May Involve Sweat
Living requires energy. Every aspect of daily life requires a certain degree of energy transfer from your physical and mental reserves. The law of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but only transferred. This law is true physically and spiritually. Like a rechargeable battery, each night you have the opportunity to physically plug in for seven hours of rejuvenation. From the time you wake until you re- turn for another fill-up, you will transfer your newly gained energy into various activities such as carpooling, working, and laundry.

It is just as important to recharge spiritually. Maintaining relationships, supporting family, and uplifting friends can zap all of last Sunday’s worship high right out of you. Leave your spiritual battery off the hook for too long and watch how quickly you begin to see the flashing red warning signs of eventual shutdown. Depression, anxiety, fear, emotionaleating, ambivalence, anger, impatience, insomnia, muscle tension, and fatigue are all indicators of a depleted energy source.

The emotional ties with the past that we need to cut can be painful, causing us to resist the discomfort of change and remain in familiar areas. As long as your life proceeds down a course of least resistance, you require only a minimum amount of energy due to the forward momentum of your set course. To change the course you must overcome the momentum, the barriers that block your source of positive energy.

Mental ties are barriers separating your life into two pools of energy. On one side is a negative pool of energy that can cause you to see yourself as a runner-up in life. On the other side is a positive pool of energy that can reaffirm your soul with a refreshing bath of confidence. How do you overcome the barrier to get from the negative pool to the positive?

Activation energy. Activation energy is the energy that you need for a change to occur. It is the push that causes you to gravitate toward a new way of thinking, a new way of living. Activation energy moves you toward the promises of God. It propels you like an arrow toward the bull’s-eye of God’s best for your life. It sets in motion a series of events that has the potential to transfer positive, life-giving energy back into the dying areas of your life.

Stage 3: Transition — Stretched to the Max but Rebounding with Grace
Change is not easy, but with the right momentum it can become easier. When you jump on a trampoline, gravity will pull the weight of your body downward along the course of least resistance. The gravity of past pain, unrealistic expectations, and self-defeatism can just as easily pull you down a path of unhappiness.

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Once your weight hits the barrier, you have a choice to make. If you fall passively on the trampoline, each bounce will take you lower and lower until your momentum stops. But if you put energy back into the trampoline by jumping, you will rebound higher and higher.

Feeling stretched to the max? Which will it be, crash or rebound? Now is the time to decide to transition to a higher level of thinking. You may feel you are at the breaking point, but use that energy to rebound with grace. Bounce right out of that mental fog into a place of clarity, a place without limitations based on societal norms but covered by the grace to live free.

The transition state is like a pit. It is the place where a decision must be made. After illumination you will either gain the activation energy to climb out of your mental pit or you will remain in your current position. If mental ties have kept you in a holding pattern, now is the time to reassess. Can you sense the winds of change propelling you toward freedom? Conquering the transition state is vital in successfully overcoming the lies you have been telling yourself. It is the pivotal stage and the one in which the greatest resistance will occur. It will involve stretching, but there is grace to rebound. Now is the time to learn the rhythm of grace.

Stage 4: Expulsion — Dynamic Interference Required
External life forces can move you. There are pleasant forces that can move you in a positive direction and negative forces that can hinder you. From the warm bear hug of a five-year old to the coffee that spills on your blouse just before an important meeting, external events produce a dynamic flow of feelings within you. External forces can be as benign as the examples above or as toxic as size 0 models who make us hate our own bodies. The dynamics of the external force depend on how long it is applied. The longer you are exposed to the force, the more it can move you. All dynamic forces have the ability to produce movement in how you respond and how you feel, unless interference is interjected.

What is interference? Interference blocks your ability to receive a clear signal from the external source. It halts the ongoing momentum produced by the force. It’s like a mental gatekeeper that deciphers whether something is worth holding onto or if it should be expelled. The deciding factor is, how does it move you? Does it move you toward a happy, fulfilled life, or does it cause condemnation, guilt, or shame?

Whatever controls the focus of your mind controls your life. Mental ties produce movement toward self-condemnation, and such thoughts must be forcefully expelled for freedom to arise. You must experience a “suddenly” moment where enough is enough and you explosively reject all aspects of those lies. The expulsion stage ejects the deep-rooted mind-set from your modus operandi. No longer is it an acceptable way of thinking, but it is vigorously replaced with a new mode of operation, a mode that allows you to embrace individuality, spontaneity, affirmation, and freedom.

Each time a web of that mental tie tries to entangle itself around your life, positive interference can interrupt to break the bond. Scripture, worship, prayer, and positive affirmations are all forms of interference that can break the restricting power of these lies. There is life and death in the power of the tongue. You become what you believe. What you say about yourself to yourself matters, so it’s important that you say positive things. Expulsion causes your internal worth to rise up like an artesian well with a deep reserve to declare what God says about who you are and what you can do.

Stage 5: Detachment — Cut the Ties (Snip, Snip)
Some things are meant to be lost. What mental baggage have you collected along your life journey? You can overcome past attachments to negative concepts and mind-sets. As God’s plan of freedom opens to you, it weakens the status of negative mental ties. Each spiritual promise snips away at binding thoughts and allows movement toward a happier life. All thoughts of limitation, inferiority, or insignificance become permanently cut out of your life, a final detachment that releases you to be confidently and uniquely content to be you.

You cannot destroy what you will not confront. Blunted emotions, lack of joy, lack of energy, fear, and anxiety are all by-products of mental ties, but you can be free to enjoy your life.

Adapted from Set Free to Live Free, by Saundra Dalton-Smith MD

Copyright © 2011 by Saundra Dalton-Smith MD, published by Revell, used with permission.