She sometimes thinks of herself as Mary, Mary quite contrary, but her heart is to live for Jesus fully, joyfully, wholly. Mary DeMuth is the author of over a dozen books, her most recent, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus. She speaks to audiences around the world about living an uncaged, freedom-infused life.
Her own story is a great tale of God’s releasing her from shackles and cages aplenty. A victim of childhood sexual abuse, multiple divorces, death of her father and an unsafe home, Mary met Jesus at fifteen, hoping He’d make everything better. Joy didn’t come instantly, but Mary has experienced a compelling journey of slow, but steady healing. She now lives a life of impossible joy as a mom to three nearly-adult kids, a wife to a terrific husband, and a discipler of high school girls. Find out more at her website marydemuth.com.
Stuff happened in my past. Hard stuff. Scary stuff. Painful stuff. Stuff folks don’t like talking about. If you’re curious, you can pick up my memoir, Thin Places. Or watch this video where I choose to forgive the boys who stole my innocence:
For a long time, I was defined by sexual abuse, neglect, my parents’ divorces, the drug abuse, my father’s death. These traumas = me. For a while, this equation worked. Me talking about and processing these painful bits of my story was part of my healing journey. But eventually, I realized the retelling and reliving the past was keeping me caged. Every time I shared, the chain that held me to that time in my life tightened.
And to be honest, sometimes I shared the story so others would feel sorry for me. Oh poor Mary, look at what she endured.
Something changed in me a few years ago. Something I can’t quantify or explain other than to say I got sick of being chained to my past. I grew tired of Mary-the-Abused-Girl persona. Why? Well, she didn’t grow beyond it, for one. And she certainly wasn’t joyful or experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised and she longed for. Have you ever felt that way?
God opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about the icky stuff. Because He exists in the cosmic, relentless present tense (He is the Great I Am after all), He encouraged me to live in that same present tense, to shed my past tense tendencies.
Here’s how I put it in Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus:
I no longer need to be defined by the trials in the past. I am not Mary who suffered (though it is part of my story). I am Mary who has been set free. Uncaged. Because of Jesus’ radical, freeing act on the cross and His mind-boggling resurrection, I don’t need to wallow back there; I can rejoice here, now. Yet we crawl back there, don’t we? We camp in the “I was-es” rather than the “I am” statements.
I was molested.
I was overlooked.
I was a ragamuffin.
Truth you need to know today: God wants to present-tense our lives.
Do me a quick favor. Grab a pen right now and a slip of paper. Write down three statements from the past that define you today, or that you’ve struggled to let go of.
Now, write a sentence next to each “was” statement, proclaiming something true about you in the present tense. Something like this:
I was molested. I am cherished and nourished and blessed by Jesus who died for me.
I was overlooked. I am chosen by Jesus before the foundation of the world to be a joyful child of His.
I was a ragamuffin. I am beautified by Jesus, precious in His sight, wholly capable of being loved.
Place this piece of paper somewhere you’ll find it often–a journal, your mirror, in your Bible. When the voices of the past come to haunt you and press you into the “was,” whip out your “am” statements. Say them out loud. Memorize them. Retrain your mind to live in the beautiful present tense.
Doing this has changed my life. I’m no longer Mary caged by her past. I’m Mary set gloriously free, soaring on new, surprising heights. You can taste a bit of the transformation on this video from 100 Huntley Street:
This is one of the cool things I’ve discovered as I wrote Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus. Along with living in the present tense, I help you experience the freedom that comes from letting go of white-knuckled living. I help you so elevate your view of God that trials fade back into their proper place. I even talk about the role money plays in our relationship with Jesus. I tackle worry, fearing people, being mean to ourselves, and our faulty view of the gospel.
Intrigued? I have a free ebook based on the book. 12 Steps to Impossible Joy. Click here to receive it.
I’d love for you to experience the everything life alongside me. That’s why we’re giving away five copies of the book to those who comment on Monday’s post.
Question: In the comments section, write 1-3 I was statements, followed by the corresponding I am statements.