When my boyfriend and I initially started dating, I remember the day we first had a significant disagreement. Between crimson ears and rosy cheeks, the tears in my eyes matched the discomfort of his tone. "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:18, ESV). I felt the Holy Spirit's nudge. From that day forward, we promised to talk every matter out and share our feelings so that a boiling and simmering pot of water would no longer have the ability to erupt at full steam. Proverbs 19:11 reminds us, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense" (Proverbs 19:11, ESV). A few months later into the dating scene, we had reached yet another breach of discord. Inviting him over to discuss the matter, I playfully wrapped us both in a white, thin string and faithfully declared that until we untangled ourselves from the mess, the chain of disputes would continue to separate us.
Of course, either of us could have quickly snapped the mimicked chains that surrounded our frames, but we both played along. By the end of the night, we had not only talked through our trivial affairs but shared resolve, patience, laughter, and conflict resolution. If only the chains we enslave ourselves to daily could be snapped as quickly and seamlessly as the pretend web I placed my boyfriend and me in that day.
When Lies Only Tighten the Chains
In life, I have grown accustomed to listening to the lie that what I tell myself is 100% foolproof or true. If I think it, it surely must be fact. But at the end of the day, what we believe is what causes 99.9% of our problems.
Too often, we allow a thought that passes into our mind to rest rather than moving it along. As the TPT translation describes it, as you think, so you are.
"So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, TPT)
As the Psalmist here writes, these affections of your heart make a clear connection that our thought life and our souls are inseparably linked. The Hebrew word levav is the most common word for "heart." It includes our thoughts, our wills, our discernment, and our affections.
Without guarding our mindset, the words we tell ourselves quickly become a prison. Keyless and bound, we're no longer the masters of our vices but a slave to them. Such was the case for the mentality of my boyfriend and I for the past two years.
When I was diagnosed with IBS-C, a tortured colon, GAD, and panic disorder, I believed it was the end of the world. I told myself things were never going to get better. My thoughts spiraled, chaos heightened, and before I knew it, I'd given up hope. Though I'd pray and profess I'd get better, I don't think I genuinely believed it.
Over the past few months, I've been learning to fight and counter these beliefs. Rather than taking what I hear or say at face value, I evaluate the validity of its accuracy. While some days are easier than others, looking at these issues in another light helps me reframe, refocus, and realign what it means to be Amber Ginter. And although all techniques are helpful, they are only as beneficial as the driving force propelling them into action.
But yet, my chains still held firm.
The more I twisted, the more bruised my skin became. Instead of loosening my grip, the chains tightened until I could barely breathe. Cutting off my oxygen, I didn't understand why things had to get worse before they got better. But that's the thing about chains; many don't realize the power they have because you've given it to them. And for my boyfriend, that's the testimony I want to share with you today.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/AHMET YARALI
Coming Out of the Grave
While I will not air my boyfriend's dirty laundry list, I will inform you that the past two years have not been easy for him or me. Learning to deal with mental issues, for example, has been a troubling effect of adulting.
Often trapped in his mind, I have watched someone I love fight daily battles and come out weak and weary on the other side. Praying day after night and night after day, I asked everyone I knew to pray on his behalf and mine. I was done fighting the Devil on my own.
By Sunday, May 2nd, 2021, I felt helpless. My heart broke for my boyfriend, and I asked a dear mentor how I could help in love.
"Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do is lay them at Jesus' feet. I know you love him, but by laying him and the problems down, that's trusting that the Lord will do what we cannot." Her voice shook my core to the point of stripped-down, wholly broken surrender. "Pray for him today at Church," she nudged.
1 John 1:9 remarks in the ESV, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." While our struggles are not always sinful, I believe that running to the arms of Jesus is what can eternally break chains more than anything else.
Making my way to the stage and pondering her advice, I could not help but smile at the selection of worship songs that aligned with that statement.
"Deadman, come out of that grave, come out of that grave when we sing. Captives let go of those chains, let go of those chains when we sing." The louder we sang, the more I began to profess those words as truth. I was not singing; I was declaring belief over my situations.
In a flash before my eyes, when I said, "let go of those chains," I saw my boyfriend wrapped in metal chains and felt the weight of the world. In my mind, I intently looked at the smooth, yet binding links clasped to his narrow frame. My heart pulsated with the words, "free Him.”
Prayer Changes Things
While my boyfriend was not at church that day due to a covid quarantine, I was still actively praying and thinking of him, and I truly believe God gave me that vision for a reason.
Immediately, I started thinking about how easily we enslave ourselves to things in an effort to be free. We say we want to change, but our actions are far from our words. We state we aren't going to worry anymore, yet spend countless hours scrolling when we should've been sleeping. We believe we can free ourselves from these prisons, but the reality is we can’t.
Later that evening, my boyfriend told me that he had excellent devotional time and felt like God was speaking.
”Really?" I inquired as a small smile appeared on my lips and could be felt through the screen of the iPhone I was holding.
"Really." His smooth voice outlined the address he was about to make. "I know I say this all the time, Amber, but I truly believe God was breaking chains today. It was so weird, but after we watched One Week Away last night, God led me to the song Place in this World and then a set of Scriptures. I felt like he was breaking chains I've been bound to for a long time.”
"No way," I began trembling. "I was praying for you today and that God would break your chains. I physically saw you in my mind, wrapped in metal shackles, and kept begging God to set you free.”
"Are you serious?" His shaky voice inquired.
"100%." I faithfully declared. "Our God is so good and faithful," my heart proclaimed. As a small tear made its way from my cheek and onto the speaker of the phone I was talking into, I knew that God was speaking.
While I cannot say for sure that my boyfriend's chains or mine are eternally gone, I know that at that moment, I felt God's love, and I believe He's working all things for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
As I continue to fight daily and see the Lord break chain after chain, I am confident of this:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..." (2 Corinthians 10:1-18, ESV)
Wherever you are today, know that the Lord has set you free. You may run back to slavery, but He has the power to redeem and restore you to victory. The chains might leave a bruise, but all warriors have a scar to show for it. Jesus Christ died for your sins and mine, but His nail-scarred hands praise His triumph over the grave.
"For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, ESV)
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Cherry Laithang
Amber Ginter is an aspiring 25-year-old writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Hoping to become a full-time freelancer, Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic ministry team (Aisthitikós Joy Ministries), and volunteer roles. She is also the author of The Story I've Never Told, which is currently in the publishing process. Amber has freelanced for Daughter of Delight, Kallos, Anchored Passion, Crosswalk, No Small Life, Darling Magazine, Called Christian Writers, Southern Ohio Today News, The Rebelution, Ohio Christian University, and The Circleville Herald. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
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