Finding Freedom, by Heather Deroche
Nash’s Note: Over the years, Heather has become my second mom. She’s also become my assistant, my therapist, my chef, my stain remover, my seamstress, my pharmacist, and most importantly, my friend. I continue to watch her grow each year, as she breaks free from her past. Through all the highs and all the lows, her faith continues to build. I’m honored to have her words on my site, because those words are filled with power and freedom. This is one of the most relatable guest posts I’ve released.
My life has been in a season of turmoil lately. I am currently focusing on finding my way back, reconnecting with God, and getting to a place of peace. Here’s a glimpse into that journey.
Freedom is such a loaded word. What does it truly mean to have freedom? The answer to that has changed over the years for me. It’s looked very different in each season of my life. As a child, it looked like escaping from abuse. As a teen, it was finding my place in a world that I never really felt like I belonged in. As an adult, being married, and having children, the look of freedom changes even more. I would try to find time to escape and be alone: a few precious moments to breath. In more recent years, my definition of freedom became finding peace. Peace from the noise that fills my mind. Peace from the lies that had been spoken over me. Peace from depression and all that came with it. Peace from the overwhelming weight of life, and all the drama and chaos that surrounded me.
Stop the World
I found several things that would give me momentary glimpses into what peace felt like. Brief moments where the world around me stopped and allowed me to focus, even if only for a minute. Worship music calms me and helps me to find my balance: lifting your hands in worship and surrendering to God creates a bond, and it opens up a beautiful conversation.
I have also discovered a love for hiking. For some people, it represents endurance and fitness. For me, it’s the physical definition of what freedom should look like. When you’re in the woods, there is such a calmness and serenity. Out there, you have no choice but to have an intimate connection with God. When you stop to take in all that is pure and natural (the sound of the wind, the song of the birds, the rushing of the water, the rustling of the leaves), it’s all so calming to the soul. Life gets so busy and so loud, but out there, it all goes away. It opens up that true connection with God.
Twelve Years Ago
I’ve come to realize that throughout all of the seasons of my life, I’ve had the ability to find freedom in whatever form or definition I needed. It has been right there at my fingertips the entire time. Twelve years ago, I gave my life to Christ, and for those twelve years, I convinced myself that I was living for Him. I’ve had ups and downs and grown a whole lot. I know that no matter what, He has walked with me and carried me through so much—sometimes, even as I’m kicking and screaming. Even though He’s always been right there beside me, loving me unconditionally, I realize now that I have never fully accepted all that He has for me. When I look at freedom from Christ’s perspective, it is so much different than any definition I could imagine on my own.
What Freedom Really Is
People always ask why God allows us to go through all that we do. I have heard many explanations to this, but I truly can say that I understand it now. Recently, I have gone through a season of change that has caused me to stumble a bit. Through this season, I have gained a new sense of what freedom really is. While I have lost so much, I believe it was God’s way of helping me to see the freedom that He has for me. I focused so much on my own understanding. I couldn’t see past all of the noise. In order for me to really and truly see Him, lean on Him and live for Him, He had to break me from those things. I will never find freedom in people or objects, not in money, or in any worldly possession. I certainly won’t find it while trying to maintain control. God gives freedom willingly and freely. All we have to do is submit our lives to Him. Not some of it, not bits and pieces of it, but fully and completely.
I am currently working on making some positive changes in my life. I will no longer let my past define me. I have been made new in Christ. I will no longer try to control situations or people. “Helping” isn’t always helping, as much as it is controlling. I will no longer try to fight against situations around me, because the fight is not mine, but God’s. I will no longer try to force life to look like what I want it to, because God has bigger and better plans for me. I will no longer allow myself to feel alone, because God has brought some amazing friends into my life. I will not allow myself to lose sight of that again. I will no longer live my life afraid. God says “Fear not. For I am with you.” So I plan to take every opportunity that He puts before me, and I’ll listen more intently, not letting the noise interfere. I’m sure I will stumble again, but I know that, no matter what, God will be right there with me, lovingly guiding me right back where I need to be.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalms 46:10
I have been through so much over the last few years, but through it all Gods word to me has remained the same. Just be still. Be still and listen. Be still and wait on my timing. Be still and have faith that I have a plan for your life. Be still and know i will provide all that you need. Be still and feel the love I have for you. Be still and give the chaos to me to untangle.
That’s such a hard concept for someone like me. I am the queen of the control freaks!! I am all about fixing things. It has been incredibly hard to just let go and let God. And in the beginning I didn’t listen. I continually tried to do things myself and failed miserably at it. Through everything, He has shown me that when I am still and just wait on Him, things turn out so much better than I could have expected!
He has made some big things happen in my life. I stopped everything and just gave it all to Him and He has led me down a windy path, but so far its brought me to some pretty amazing things.
Culinary school was my first big step. I had wanted to go for a long time, but was discouraged and told it wasn’t worth it. It was so worth it for me! This was a time that God used to help me find my confidence and my voice. When I first started I was shy and scared and very timid. Didn’t know what to do and was afraid to make mistakes or even ask questions. I met so many amazing people there that helped me to grow through that. By the time I graduated I was a whole different person. I knew I could do whatever I set my mind to after that. While I don’t foresee me ever working in a busy kitchen, I do feel like I can take on whatever God has for me in the future because of the confidence I gained there.
Arkansas was the biggest move. If you know me you know my love of the outdoors. Hiking, camping, kayaking, atvs, etc. are all things I absolutely love to do! I could not be in a better place to do all the things I love. I felt so strongly that it was time and I needed to go right then. Most didn’t understand and they still don’t, honestly I really don’t either, but I know it’s where God intends for me to be. It has been a crazy transition, but God has shown up so many times. He brought me a home when needed, a job, and a time to relax and grow and change. He did bring me to Arkansas for a reason though. Shortly after I got to Mena my best friend here lost her husband to Covid. Being there allowed me to walk through one of the most devastating times in her life with her. God brought me to Mena in His perfect timing to allow me to be there for her and her kids. I am so grateful to have been able to be there for them! This was a hard time and I know I was where I needed to be. I do, however, feel Mena was just a stepping stone to something so much greater.
Hot Springs is something so much different for me. Honestly I feel lost here. I have no idea what I’m doing here. I came here knowing no one and having no connection or community. I prayed hard about coming and God opened a door that made the answer quite obvious to me. I have been here a few months and still don’t really know anyone. I pray continuously for God to show me what His plan is. I want His will for my life, not my own. Its so hard some days, but I try every day to walk in joy and peace knowing that His will is perfect and His timing is impeccable. I wait patiently (sort of) and try to be open to hear His word and move as He would have me move and live as He would have me live. I’ve never been without community of some sort before. I go to work and church and go through the motions, but it’s the epitome of relinquishing myself to God. Everyday is a struggle, but my faith never waivers. I know in His perfect time things will line up and fall into place. It’s hard to be alone, but it forces me to have no one to rely on but God.
So many times I have come very close to packing up and going back to Louisiana. I miss my people and want to be able to be there for my girls, my grand baby and my friends, but that would just be going back to my comfort zone. I know I will never be able to grow past my current situation if I go back now. I will stay stuck in the rut I have been so desperately trying to dig myself out of for some time now. So here I am, out of my comfort zone, looking to God to bring me through. I pray for peace and strength to grow to be the woman that God intends for me to be. I pray that He shows me my place in His kingdom, and what He would have me do to share His amazing word with those around me. I pray that my relationship with my girls be strengthened and that our bond would continue to grow as they get older and that they can eventually understand my decision. I pray that God would bring an amazing man of God into my life that will walk along side me, love me for who I am and help me to continue to grow in my faith. I pray that God brings people into my life that I can share in community with, as I did in Louisiana. People that can help me to grow and I can do the same for them. Finally I pray for contentment in wherever God leads me and that He will help me to tame this wandering spirit I have and help me to find peace and rest in His perfect plan for me!!
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6