Do you know what it’s like to live 45 years of your life all scrunched up in a box? That’s the best way I can describe it—having my hopes, dreams, emotions, opinions, and the essence of me stuffed down inside a tightly sealed container that was controlled by someone on the outside.

Life didn’t start out that way. Like every other child born into this world, I was full of life, energetic, and passionate about living. I clearly communicated my needs and opened up my heart to give and receive love. For a while, innocence and naiveté sheltered me from reality, but it didn’t take long for negative messages to embed themselves into my mind and eventually imprison my soul.

I can’t believe you’re so clumsy.”

“Don’t be bragging about that—people will think you’ve got the big head.”

“You just need to keep your mouth shut and not rock the boat.”

“Wives are not supposed to question their husbands—just be submissive, have a quiet spirit, and let him think he’s the boss.”

“I wouldn’t try that if I were you—you might embarrass yourself if you fail.”

“I don’t think you should say that—what would people think?”

“Good Christian girls don’t dance!”

Christianity was defined by what you didn’t do (I’m a Christian—I don’t dance!) rather than pursuing God as your greatest treasure.

In the 50s parents were taught not to hold their children too much for fear of spoiling them. They were careful not to affirm their children’s accomplishments or encourage them too much so they wouldn’t become prideful or “haughty.”

I grew up in a loving family, and never doubted my parents’ love, but I developed a spirit of timidity and fear, was easily intimidated, and derived my identity and self-image from other people’s perceptions of me. I was easy prey to a controlling, angry husband who repeated the pattern of verbal abuse and violence he learned from his family of origin.

It was the endless flow of vicious messages that finally closed my spirit and sealed the container.

You’re dull and boring. I don’t know why anyone would want to be around you.”

“You smile too much. You breathe too loud.”

“Can’t you do anything right? Women at church are talking to me about you. They’re concerned . . .”

“You’re evil. If you were a good mother (or wife) you would . . .”

“When you lost all that weight, you were just beginning to look good. Now . . .”

I had imagined my life so much differently. But here I was, a grown woman, hiding my heart from those who might hurt me, stuffing my emotions deep within to avoid further pain, learning to devalue my instincts, and lacking courage to take a stand against what I knew was evil.

Life is not good living scrunched up in a can. There’s no freedom to think, trust, love, or be creative. The air is stale and the darkness is oppressive. The only thing you can do is exist and long for someone to come along, pry open the lid and help you escape.

Do you know what happens when someone releases you from 45 years of pressurized living in a can? Think of a jack-in-the-box or a trick can of fabric snakes locked in a can, awaiting someone to turn the crank or take off the cap and set you FREEeeeeeeeeeeee!

That’s exactly what happened to me eight years ago when God sprung me from my prison of self-protection and self-pity to a party in my honor where this jailbird heard the Trinity singing a song about me. I couldn’t believe it when I heard the Father’s welcome song, “Dear beautiful daughter, I love you! I’ve been waiting to spend some time with you so I can tell you just how much I adore you.”

Then Jesus, the Son, sang the most beautiful lyrics of forgiveness— “I’m so glad you came to the party even though you’re a bit bruised and tattered. I have made all the necessary arrangements for a complete makeover, and everything is paid for in full. You will have a fresh start with full access to the Father as we prepare the wedding party to receive you as my bride.”

That’s when the Spirit began to sing a song with the most inviting rhythm:

You were created
in the Father’s image
It’s time for you
to release your fears
and dance!

I will teach you,
and give you direction,
fill you with conviction
and pour His passion
into your soul.

I’ve been dancing ever since with great passion as God launched me into a ministry to help other women who are locked up in the same joint in which I was incarcerated.

Now God is teaching me the slow dance (or the “smoochie” as my friend Steve from England calls it) so I will stay in step with Him as He leads me, cheek to cheek, across the dance floor of life.

I’m looking forward to dancing with Him in eternity as my bridegroom at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:7-9)

This marriage will last . . . forever!


Copyright (c) 1995-2017 Brenda Branson