Isn’t she ridiculously beautiful? It’s actually shocking. She pulls off being blonde and brunette equally well and I don’t know how that’s possible.
Y’all. This is one of my favorite humans: my cousin Olivia. She’s not my blood sister, but she’s my soul sister.
Olivia is 19, but you’d never guess she was still a “teenager.” She’s truly wise beyond her years and is one of the most positive, joyful, and kind people I’ve ever known. She’s also incredibly smart. She’s the total package. When you talk with her you can’t help but feel like she just gets you, you know? It takes her about .2 to make a meaningful connection with anyone. Don’t even get me started on how encouraging she is – she literally sends the BEST texts with the most affirming and perfect words. She is a straight up gift. To so many people. I’m lucky to be one of her people for life.
We share the same middle name which is something that’s really special to us. We’re both named after our grandfather, Lee Walt. She’s Olivia Lee and I’m Caitlin Leigh. So we’re officially soul sisters by blood and by name (and general obsession with one another). I’m tearing up thinking about how proud I am of her. Her testimony is incredible and she’s about to encourage the heck out of you.
Time to shine, Ya Ya!
HEY, Y’ALL, I’M OLIVIA! First off, I just have to say how HONORED I am that Caitlin asked ME to contribute to shestaylored this month. I couldn’t be proud to call this beautiful, God fearing woman my family. In everything she does and everywhere she goes, her light for the Lord shines so brightly it touches everyone’s soul…but I know y’all already know that! 😉
Hey, you, are you free? The obvious answer is YES because we live in a country where we get to experience the day to day blessing and privilege of freedom. Earlier this month, we even all celebrated the joy of freedom and remembered those who fought and died so that we all may live in a world where freedom is our reality. But take a moment to ask yourself.. are you really free?
Physically, yes we are all free. But what about spiritually? Anyone can live a life of freedom but truly never taste what freedom in Christ actually is.
When Caitlin first asked me to talk on this month’s topic of freedom, I instantly got a little nervous. That’s just the truth because what do I know? I’m only 19 years old and hardly have a ton of life experiences to go on. However, I realized I’ve actually gone through some difficult, testing trials throughout my short 19 years leading up to this point. Trials that have tested my faith and definitely beaten my spirits. I’ll let you in on one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome yet, and how it made me into the young woman I am today. When I was 16 years old, I was date raped on August, 30th 2014. It was on that day that I subconsciously started living a life of captivity where I held myself hostage. I let that experience define me, and even more so, I let it consume me. Throughout the next couple years everything started to come back to that dreadful day, and I would ask myself why? Why is this experience haunting me, and why can’t I let go of it? Believe me I prayed about it. Ohhh girl did I pray about it.
Then it finally clicked 2 years later.. I wasn’t free. I was constrained by what had happened to me and the experience of it. I felt broken and unworthy. I was looking to heal that wound in all the wrong places- places that only brought more pain and hurt- because there’s only one healer and his name is Jesus. I had not found freedom in Christ and Christ alone. It hit me. I had known it all along. Jesus died on the cross for us so that we could have EVERLASTING ETERNAL freedom. Not earthly freedom in form that we all take for granted sometimes ( hey we all do, I know I’m guilty of it ) but freedom of our souls- He freed our souls. So no matter your age or whatever trials you have or ARE currently going through your soul is already free from it. You just need to free your mind from it because Jesus died on the cross already knowing your soul’s burden and pains, so it holds no power over you and most definitely does not define you. This is because God can take our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful. He knows how to put the pieces back together even better, and He knows how to make us whole again through Him. That’s the freedom of Christ. It allows us to do amazing things. It allows us to get back up after we’ve been knocked down time and time again because we know that no matter the circumstance we may face, we will ALWAYS face a greater God. It’s knowing and believing that God is greater than any situation, any insecurity, or any fear.
2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Ephesians 3:12 “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
I also want to share with you what freedom in Christ looks like to me now and how I experience it. We are all so anxious and in a hurry to get from point A to point B. It’s a race to nowhere because we all eventually get there…to make the good grades, to get the perfect job, to find the perfect someone, or whatever it may be no matter how big or small of a task it seems. Well what happened to the journey in between? Those long life car rides that we all are on at one point or another. During these times turn off the radio and instead roll down the window. Taking a moment to pause in your life to purely take in God’s glory and His grace goes a long way. Rejoice and bask in His love just as you bask in the sun’s warmth. Finding joy in the journey TO your life destinations just as you would once you get there allows you to fully live in God’s freedom at all times of your life. Even if the journey is a hard one, you now know how to take joy away from it because that’s what the power of freedom in Christ gives us.
To live freely means to surrender wholly.
Trying to take away joy from a painful and excruciating experience is easier said than done, but it begins by surrendering it fully to God. It’s liberating and once you truly let go, you start to taste the freedom that’s been there all along. You start to let that feeling in and the pain go. Something that was once so traumatic and agonizing for me is now this experience I look upon as a blessing because without it, I wouldn’t know what it means to genuinely live freely in Christ today. So whenever things don’t go your way or life is testing your faith, just re-remember who is in control and STAND FIRM GIRL! I hope and pray that in you reading this, you find your own freedom in Christ. Because at any age or in stage of life where you may be, know you are free from ALL of it. You are wonderfully made and loved beyond measure!! And always remember..
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Currently listening to: The River Album by Jordan Feliz
Currently studying: The Broken Way Bible Study Guide
Currently reading: The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp