How many of you have read these beautiful Freedom Stories and thought, ‘Good for them, but I’m just not there yet…’? Today I’m sharing the story of a vivacious and sweet mama who is still figuring out what freedom looks like. I loved getting to interview her this month as she shared about her “in progress” journey towards a life of freedom. If you’re still in the midst of figuring it out, be encouraged- so many others are too!
Here is Katherine’s Freedom Story
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Before we get into your story, I want to know some of the fun stuff! Tell me about where you’re from, what you love to do, and anything else that will give us a little slice into your life!
So, I studied elementary & special education in college with graduate courses in preschool studies (never finished). Turns out I didn’t enjoy teaching public school like I thought and am now going a completely different direction. After having my boys, I learned a lot about birth, and I want to be that positive voice for others… so I’m training to be a birth worker, a doula!
Also, my go to coffee order is an iced white chocolate chai!
That sounds amazing! Also, I love the direction and passion you’ve discovered for your life!
Galatians 5:1 is a key verse for our FREEDOM STORIES. It says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Therefore, do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” What was the old yoke you were living under? What was that slavery like for you?
My freedom story centers around learning slow, and letting go of things that aren’t freeing. It is by finding simple again, shedding the layers, that I’ve learned more of who I am created to be in Christ. The layers, or the yoke of slavery, were all the things that stole my joy, made me stuck, lingered in discontent.
I experienced this in so many ways: my own internal dialogue, words from others, the outside of what we see on social media- the things that slowly chip away at my own self-image.
In many ways I think we are our own worst critics. If there is a word said or a situation that doesn’t go as planned, we are generally playing out different scenarios in our head far longer than anyone else is still thinking about it. And that does something to you, if you let it.
Instead, I’ve found freedom when I let go of the false narratives I create around certain aspects and situations of life, while staying true to reality, yet still not downplaying the severity of some real life.
Overall, it is a loss of sense of self, and of my worth and value as a cherished daughter of God… that is the underlying theme, the reason why I didn’t allow myself to slow down or see the truth, staying stuck in a holding pattern, the yoke.
What were some of the old narratives you absorbed?
There are many, but as mentioned, they all come back to one point: forgetting my value and worth in Jesus Christ, and losing my sense of self. This story encompassed all of 2018, the past year, for me – from the moments until my son’s birth in late January to some mental battles I’m still fighting to this day. An entire year.
In regards to learning slow, finding simple, and shedding the layers which weren’t true to who I am in Christ; well, those narratives and words are just the opposite of this.
-the false narrative that I’m “just” a mama who stays home with her babies and can’t keep “a real job”
-the false narrative that I have to be busy doing something or else I’m not worthy (rest isn’t an option)
-the false internal narrative that is keeping me feeling stuck in the past with “would’ve could’ve should’ve”; regrets, words, actions
– the false narrative that I felt unworthy of all I have and do, and maybe the crushing dialogue is right, and why am I even here anyway, is this feeling worth it?
-the false narrative that I wasted my time in college studying things that I’m not even doing now; I want a different career and life path (no more teaching, hello being a mama and doula-in-training), and I’ve completely lost track and capacity for theology and faith and prayer – all of it that I studied in some capacity.
Plus, postpartum hormones magnified all of these tenfold. 2018 was a hot mess, a scary spiral, until I found solid faith based help. I needed help to do what I was reading and wanting: go back to the basics, and find a simple and slow way of life – only hold on to those things that are authentic to me and my worth in Christ.
What was the turning point? Was there a rock bottom or a point that you realized that you couldn’t live like that any longer?
I’ve been in counseling consistently for the majority of the past year to work through these obstacles, and I’ve grown much, and learned so much of myself.
The turning point came when I let go of a victim mindset and made a choice to come out of the fog, and get to the root of the discontent.
When I let go of things that weren’t freeing, I had to change my thought process and internal dialogue – it’s still a struggle, as I lived in survival mode for so long. It takes a lot to come out of it- and is so misunderstood because it’s an unseen battle.
It was a slow fade but was also a slow turning point. It’s almost like the two are codependent. When I felt stronger, I also felt weaker. As I was learning about slowing down and finding rest in my day – for my mental sanity at some points – I was also frantic with my to do list trying to ease the burden of disappointment for the “undos.”
As I was gaining (virtual) community with other mamas in a natural due date group or parenting group – well, much of it was unseen, hidden by those in my physical community, and I felt lost and misunderstood by all I knew.
What changed? (what actions did you take/truths did you discover/community did you connect with to help you find freedom)?
When I choose to slow down and let go of things that aren’t freeing – this is when I uncover myself again. As I worked through these narratives in counseling, I was also living in community with sisters in Christ who have carried me through the storms without even knowing it. The consistency in meeting each week, the friends for myself and my two boys, the no-pressure community bible study, the short devotional that were all I could chew at the time. The community held me through and brought me to a place where I could find freedom again. Even when I felt no progress was being made- the consistency made a difference. I always knew I felt stuck and I always knew the truth and God’s word of my worth and I always knew there was good in the not-good, and I always knew that I needed to let go of the layers, but I still felt frozen in it, until I made a choice to move in it.
Tell me about your life of freedom. What does it look like for you now?
I’m not sure if I’d say I’m in the life of freedom right now. I know who I am and my identity as a daughter of God, I know where I’m going, I know the direction to go in continuing to slow down to live life purposefully, simply, letting go of the things that keep me stuck – but I’m still in the middle of the process. I’ve made a lot of progress in learning the mindset shift, but I still have ways to go. Right now, I’m able to write again, I’ve found direction in work and home, I’m learning and seeing God in a new light having gone through such a dark year. The freedom looks like feeling like myself again- sure of who I am and where I’m going, able to write and talk about what needs to be.
Do you still wrestle with those old struggles often? What do you do on those days to fight for your freedom?
I do every day. I lived that for so long, it’s hard to let go of the voices and narratives. I feel stronger, I am stronger mentally, but the devil still creeps in to steal my joy, my identity. The little things- mannerisms or excuses or simply being (acting) busy. How do I slow down in this season, chasing a three year old and one year old? What is there left to let go of to give me breathing room to be, to feel myself again? I’m still learning and struggling in what all of this looks like. I’m still in the midst of my freedom story. This is why I haven’t finished my memoir yet!
And on those days? I pray whispers. It’s all I can do most days.
Are there any key scriptures, quotes, or books that have been helpful for you on your journey into freedom?
“You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”
”Not-yet-there is not a perfect place, nor is it always a comfortable place, but it’s an important place,” Michelle DeRusha (True You Book)
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” -James 4:8
Those are beautiful! And last, because I’m a big believer that gratitude lists help us remain present and fight our battles, tell me 3 things you’re grateful for right now.
Grateful for: space heaters for cooler weather, coffee dates with sweet friends, and my two sweet boys and all that comes with them.
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Katherine Newsom writes at Simple Natural Mama about all things faith, family, simple and natural living. She writes for the natural minded mama who likes to keep things simple (but mostly for herself to process life!) She is a mama of 2 boys and a birth doula-in-training, who spends her spare time learning about herbal remedies, essential oils, intentional living, gentle parenting, and birth stories- all through the lens of faith. She lives on 46 acres which will one at be a natural produce farm, in rural east Texas, with her husband and 2 boys, a number of cows, chickens, cats and a dog.
P.S. Special thanks to Daiga Ellaby of Unsplash for the beautiful image to accompany this post.