Happy New Year, and welcome to 2024! I hope you're excited about all God has planned for this year. I know I am.
This year is special because I will turn fifty. Honestly, just writing that sentence is tough. My grandmother was fifty when I was born. And yet, fifty isn't what it used to be, and I believe God still has many great things ahead.
So what am I going to do to celebrate such a big birthday?
One of my friends celebrated her fiftieth birthday by doing one activity she'd never done before each month for a year leading up to the big day. She had some pretty awesome experiences, which helped her celebrate the milestone rather than mourn it. It was pretty inspiring.
With only four months left until my 50th, I have not followed in her footsteps. Instead, the Holy Spirit had a completely different adventure planned for my 49th year. His plan revolutionized my life in ways that I never imagined possible. I've been eagerly waiting all through the Fall and the holiday season to tell you about it. Here goes.
It all started around February or March. The Holy Spirit was clearly stirring something inside me, but I couldn't put my finger on precisely what it was. I remember talking to a friend at a Mantour Conference and asking questions neither she nor I could answer.
Why did I feel the way I did about certain situations?
Why did I struggle with particular people or ideas?
Where was this internal struggle even coming from?
It was a restless beginning. I craved change, but I didn't know what kind or what the problems were.
At the same time, our ministry was growing, which was awesome. Still, I felt like I couldn't keep up. Mentally, I was caught in a cycle of fear and guilt. I was doing my best but never felt good enough.
Deep inside, I wanted a change. I had a plan that when Mantour Conferences were over for that year, I would get alone with God to seek His direction. I had a vision of what it would look like:
We've all seen the meme:
A stylishly dressed woman is alone in her cute little chair with her Bible on her lap and a cup of coffee in her hand. (Okay, I prefer iced tea—but that's a slight adjustment.) The light is soft, and you can feel the calmness of the morning glow or the evening quiet as she spends her time with Jesus. You can tell she's completely at peace from the smile on her face. She's right where she needs to be—spending time with Jesus as He pours words of encouragement and new vision into her heart.
Can you picture it? I could. I was sure that's what would happen.
Except it didn't.
Instead, God had a different plan. Rather than entering a season that resembled the picture-perfect meme we've all seen, the Holy Spirit began showing me how false teachings my parents learned at a Bill Gothard seminar when I was just five or six years old had formed mindsets that were keeping me from becoming everything God wanted me to be.
Much like a caterpillar needs to shake off its cocoon before becoming a butterfly, I needed to tear down the mindsets holding me in bondage, recognize where they came from, and replace lies and false teachings with God's truth.
Over the next six or seven months, the Holy Spirit did a radical work inside of my heart. First, He helped me see trace some of the beliefs I was taught as a child to the popular conferences that took place in the early 1980's and was reinforced by many Christian churches. Then, topic by topic, the Holy Spirit showed me how this false teaching impacted our family lives and created deep mindsets in my heart and mind. He showed me how these distorted ideas about God's ways affected my views on:
-Money and Finances
-How a godly woman should act, think, and speak
-Roles a woman should and should not fill in ministry
-The umbrella of authority
As if He were untangling a knot, the Holy Spirit helped me see how many of my fears, my guilt, and my anxiety were a direct result of improper teaching that my parents learned and passed on to me.
It was an eye-opening process.
There were days when I was shocked as the Holy Spirit showed me that many of the things our family was told were God's highest standards actually disagreed with God's Word. There were plenty of tears and a decent amount of anger along the way, but ultimately, there was freedom.
It has been an amazing journey—the most incredible adventure I could have imagined for my 49th year. It has radically changed who I am, my relationship with God, my attitude toward life, and my calling. Beyond a doubt, I will not be the same woman when I turn fifty that I was when I turned forty-nine.
And I couldn't be more grateful.
Over the next few weeks and months, I will share what I've learned on this journey.
I'll tell how God absolutely, positively blew my mind so that I could experience more freedom than I had ever imagined.
I pray that sharing my story will inspire you to allow the Holy Spirit to work on your heart and tear down any mental strongholds in your life. I guess you can say I'm hoping my testimony will challenge you to let the Holy Spirit blow your mind and help you walk in God's truth.
Whatever your age, I pray that 2024 will be a revolutionary year for you as you discover God's ways, His Word, and who He wants you to be.
What a great New Year's resolution!
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."