Everyone loves a free spirit, and as modern women, many of us (at least secretly) want to be one! But here’s the big secret: being free doesn’t mean we’ve actually been freed.
Our Instagram feeds are stuffed daily with beautiful photos advocating a glamorously non-conformist “bohemian” lifestyle. While the sum total of what it means to be a “free spirit” is open to interpretation, in general, this seems to mean long beach locks, crop tops and maxi skirts, laptop entrepreneurism, a macrame hobby and living out of an old VW van.
All of this sounds great to me. For most of my life I’ve identified as a free spirit and pursued the requisite unconventional lifestyle, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But while I was busy globetrotting, chasing the carefree “laptop-preneur” fairy tale and shaving off my beach hair … I didn’t take time to notice that inner reality really didn’t match my outer carefree ways.
Externally I was living life on my terms. Inside, I was anything but free: weighed down with sadness, anxiety, depression, endless weight battles, gastrointestinal issues and a general tumultuous relationship with my body and my womanhood. Not to mention a host of relationships (romantic and otherwise) that were full of drama and narcissicism that left me totally invisible to those who “needed” me.
I may have been a free spirit, but I was not a freed spirit. And the latter, I’ve come to believe is far more transformative and satisfying the Instagram version.
(Though ironically, my external free spirit lifestyle has become ever more free, the more I have embraced the inner freed spirit God wants for me!)
What does it mean to be a “freed spirit”–whether or not you identify as “boho?”
Here are 10 hallmarks of radical freedom that will transform your experience as a woman, dissolve the heaviness inside and allow you to dance and dream again:
1. A freed spirit believes in her worth as a creation of God.
A woman who walks in total physical, emotional, psychological, financial and mental freedom may not always feel worthy, but she has decided to agree with God that she is. Period. Full stop. End of story. Finis. She knows that her worth comes directly from her creator, and that, as she pursues a loving relationship with Him (not religious ritual), she can expect priceless treasures to flow freely to her from His loving hands.
2. She treats herself with loving kindness.
I am so grateful for the influence of Jane Reeves, holistic life coach and retreat leader, in my life. Jane is passionate about loving kindness and has helped me to embrace it! A freed spirit knows that loving kindness towards herself first, and then others, is her secret weapon for joy and forward momentum. She embraces herself, and gives herself grace, no matter what kind of day she is having. She lets herself “off the hook” for being responsible for everyone else… and knows she doesn’t always have to save the day.
3. She admits she is powerless to bring her dreams to pass.
You might think that admitting powerlessness would further weight down or depress a woman who’s passionate and motivated. But actually, for me, it’s been the opposite. By recognizing that I need God’s intervention in my life to get where I want to go … I take so much pressure off of myself. Recognizing that miracles are a key ingredient in success enables a free spirit to leave her laptop and go dance in the sunshine (or the rain!), fully trusting that what she wants is already coming.
4. A freed spirit has made peace with the pain of her past.
Nothing will hold a free spirit tethered down to earth, or cause more physical and psychological pain, than past hurt that has been “stuffed down” rather than dealt with. None of us want to feel pain, but a freed spirit knows that if she bravely chooses to sit with the discomfort of her raw emotions–they’ll actually pass through her and out of her (and won’t return again regarding that event!). As I committed personally to acknowledging and grieving more than 30 years’ worth of hurts several years ago, I created beautiful, light empty space inside myself for God to fill with new blessings.
5. She lives radically in the moment.
I freed spirit knows very well that the past is like an ex you’d better not text, and the future is like a bad boyfriend: it looks hot, it talks smooth, but it will never, ever be there for you. Now is the only moment a freed spirit has, and she’s determined to live radically in it with joy. She savors her food now. She soaks in the sunshine. She relaxes in a hot bath. She says “no” to commitments that don’t fill her joy cup. She refuses to worry about tomorrow, next week or ten years down the road. And as she lives her life now, blessings also find her … now.
6. She chooses to view life as abundant.
A freed spirit doesn’t have to worry about money, resources or provision–not because she’s a billionaire, but because she knows God is. She prays for wisdom to allocate her resources, pays her bills, enjoys her pleasures, gives generously of her resources, and doesn’t allow herself to be moved by the state of her bank account. She knows that there’s “always more where that came from,” and since God hasn’t failed her yet on that account, He’s not going to start now.
7. She trusts God to deliver on His promises to her.
God may be long in bringing His promises to pass, but He’s never late and He never forgets. A freed spirit has learned how to trust God for fulfillment even in the long silent and dry seasons. She’s learned how to spend her time preparing for her blessing, rather than counting how many days have passed and it’s still not here. When she feels down or discouraged, she takes that to the Lord and lets Him boost her. In her radical act of trust … she find the power she needs to dance forward on the path of life, knowing it’s leading her somewhere good.
8. She says “yes” to what she really wants.
A freed spirit has gotten over all the cultural constipation around the idea of getting what she wants. She knows that her deepest heart’s desires literally are “of the father” (the original root of the word “desire!”)–and that all His promises are “yes and amen.” When an opportunity arises that reflects her desires, she prayerfully takes it. She doesn’t stress, angst about it, or sabotage the opportunity right out of her atmosphere. She simply says, “yes” and walks forward. Or dances. Or cartwheels. Or drives forward in her hot pink retro VW bus with hand-painted daisies.
9. A freed spirit lets others see her real self–flaws and all.
In talking with many free spirits, I often see a pattern that mirrors my life before I became a freed spirit. So many free spirits desperately want to be seen and loved by people in their lives … yet they also do their best to hide the “tough stuff” that’s actually happening. “I’d just rather be positive,” they say. Yet in hiding their sadness, frustrations and flaws, free spirits often hide themselves. And it’s literal wonder why we end up invisible. A truly freed spirit knows how to make all of herself appropriately visible–so others can see her and appreciate who she really is.
10. She graciously receives help, encouragement and love.
Let’s face it: “free spirit” can also be a synonym for “loose cannon,” “lone ranger,” and “just downright lonely.” A free spirit crosses over into the realm of the freed spirits when she begins to graciously accept the love and care of others–even in the smallest of ways. She lets men hold the door for her. She accepts help with cooking and cleaning when she’s been sick. She takes up a colleague on their offer to share the workload. “I can do it myself” is the fastest and most effective way to isolate yourself. Freed spirits know they can’t do it alone … and they don’t try.
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What about you? Are you currently a free spirit or FREED spirit? What else could I add to this list?