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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

This is My Declaration!

Something strange has been going on. I feel it more with each passing day. Things are welling up within me that have never found their way out before now. Not to say they weren’t there…just never permitted an exit to see the world. Until now.

You should be aware. There is a new Sue emerging. She is being birthed as I type. She is vocal and more direct, more sensitive and at peace, and more free to dream. And I don’t just mean ‘dream’ as in ‘wish’ but I mean DREAM! And dream BIG! And even though it’s just starting I can tell you right now there is no stopping her, so don’t even try. Support, join the momentum, or get out of the way. It’s as simple as that (see….there’s that direct thing again). I have no room or time in my life for oppression or oppressors. Negativity. Reality checks that are really naysayer offerings. I am on a different path and I’m following wherever it leads.

Before I get too far ahead of myself allow me to try to paint the picture.


Imagine that for over 4 decades (literally) a part of you has been hidden from most everyone. You may have let a few trusted folks in on the scoop but even then there was a distant protective cover to the story. While dying on the inside you were smiling on the outside. That’s about as big of an oxymoron as you can get. And you lived it almost perfectly for your entire life. In fact some people reading this might already be surprised thinking “I had no clue.” See? You were successful!

Yet inside your head was this room where the ‘real you’ was kept locked away. “Just out of reach” was the phrase that kept coming out of your mouth when describing what you wanted, what you yearned for, what you needed….and what you didn’t know how to get. Insecurity was your prison and fear your chains. And unknowingly you had become friends with your jailers.

Inside you had things to share, suggestions to make, feedback to give, but fear kept your words chained inside your head. Instead you heard voices say ‘you are the problem’ and ‘you have nothing worth saying – you’ve been wrong before and you’re wrong this time.’ The jailers’ voices got loud – deafeningly loud. And you froze. Paralyzed. Numb. On the inside – dead.

And over time you let yourself get thrown into the dungeon of darkness with little hope of finding the way out, destined to a life of ‘on the outside looking in.’ Desperate. Lonely. Fearful. Yearning. Trying to hold onto hope but sometimes feeling the strands slip through your fingers.


God. BUT GOD! When you least expected it a sliver of light shone from above through a crack in the dungeon wall. First you were blinded by the light, shielding your eyes from the glare, unable to focus and see what was breaking through. But just the warmth from that single ray started to bring something back to life. Your pulse started to beat a little stronger. The hair on your arms started to tingle as if you were starting to feel again. You stood a little straighter. And while still squinting you at least knew the light meant something was happening. You started to feel hope…or at least a little more than wishful thinking.

And then a crazy thing happened. You started getting visitors. From seemingly out of nowhere some people found their way to you and came to just sit with you. Didn’t need to say a word. As it turns out, they were in the same prison, just a different cell. And their cell door opened and they started venturing out. And they met you.

In pretty quick fashion you started wandering the halls of the prison with them, each having the other’s back. You understood each other. You had similar stories – or at least the common denominators were the same. And you had the same quest…freedom. And suddenly what seemed like almost insurmountable odds because it was just you against the world became a mentality of ‘pursuing and won’t stop.’ Funny things happen when others join you on the path. Your own courage grows beyond what you imagined when it was just you.

And sure enough, with a little tenacity, the entire group finds the way out. Past the prison guards. Past the chains and razor wire. Out the gate. And like finding the golden egg on the hunt, you find yourself standing in an open field under a bright warm sun, fresh air, beauty to behold on every side, and it suddenly dawns on your: YOU. ARE. FREE!

With that new found freedom comes a lot of experimentation. Not only is it exhilarating to know your lungs can take a deep breath again but it’s also a bit fearful – or at least intriguing. You fight the fear for it only wants to pull you back into the prison cell, and you know to return to that would only be worse than before. But in a lot of ways you feel like you are LIVING for the first time in your life and it’s like a little child getting to run free in a field. There is energy you didn’t know you had. The wonder has returned. The dare to dream – and dream BIG – is emerging. You are CLEARLY headed in a new direction. And you look over your shoulder at all your old friends who thought they knew you and are not quite sure what to think. Your family is supportive because that’s what families do. Your friends want to be supportive but aren’t sure how to respond or what is going on. You have to learn to give them grace, for just as you are surprised at what is happening, so are they. It will require a rebuilding of the foundation of the relationship. It will required getting past the shock – and joy – and getting to know each other all over again. There will be messy times because all parties will easily fall back into old assumptions and how you ‘used’ to be. But through the mess you will find the ones who are committed through it all.


Okay…now that you have the picture, let me say you just walked a lifetime in my shoes. I opened up the door to the storybook that is my mind and I let you see the motion picture playing. It’s an adventure. It has its moments but it is exhilarating.

Childlike wonder. Dreams as big as the stars. And as I have been emerging from my prison and enjoying being in that wild open field I have noticed some things about myself. I am changing. I am NOT the person I was. And when we interact it might surprise you. It surprises me!

I WANT you to join me on this journey. I WANT to share the excitement with you and for you to share it with me. I WANT to be able to just babble and process and be like a giddy little girl who is just non-stop sharing about her day…I want to include you in my wonder. But here’s my fear. You may not know how to respond. And that is okay. I may not be able to explain things. And THAT is okay. We don’t have to have the answers…we can just enjoy the questions and the searching for the answers and the adventure that searching takes us on. And we can enjoy the wonder along the way.

But let me say this, and here’s a taste of the new Sue.

  1. If you HAVE to have the answers, then you may struggle with where I am right now. I am enjoying not having to be in control and know exactly what is going to happen when. If that bothers you, you have been warned that I am on a different page. And that’s okay. Doesn’t mean we can’t hang out; just don’t try to change me back to the person I was. I am no longer her. I am fine with ‘I don’t know yet’ or ‘we are flexible.’ It keeps things fun!

  2. If you discover you have been set in your ways and anyone dreaming of being used by God in BIG ways bothers you, we may have some challenges to overcome. Or maybe God wants to use what He is doing in my life to challenge you in yours.

  3. I won’t always get it ‘right.’ I don’t pretend to have it all together because the joy of being a ragamuffin is knowing that I don’t HAVE to have it all together!

My new - and true - identity...a ragamuffin fiercely loved by God

My new – and true – identity…a ragamuffin fiercely loved by God

I may say something that rubs you the wrong way. I may seem more brash than in the past. I am still learning when to muzzle my mouth and when to speak my mind, so yes, it can get messy along the way. I am not perfect and it may be something in my communication that needs tweaking. Help me through those times, don’t just write me off. At the same time don’t automatically assume or imply it’s all on me. You own your stuff and I’ll own mine, and together we will find our way through the relationship repair and trust that it is stronger as a result. Deal? Thanks. And along those lines…

  1. I believe God can and WILL use me in the lives of others, that I have something worthwhile to say, and I will say it. My voice will be silenced no more. And while I do not intend to offend, my new voice may catch you off guard. I may say things I once only kept to myself. And I will not be perfect in this area. We will have relationship repair to do – possibly on both ends. But I will speak up and I will speak out. I will pray through things and if, before the Lord, I firmly believe I have peace, I will say it. It may ruffle feathers and we can work that through, but don’t automatically assume that the issue is all mine just because I’ve never spoken up before. I will be bold and direct – prayerfully with love. But I will not let myself stay silent anymore.

  2. I will make the choices that I believe are right for me at that moment in time. You may not agree. You may not support. You may not understand. Shoot…I may not understand! But if it’s what I feel the Lord is moving me to do, my first concern is obedience to Him. That may mean I find myself walking a different path than I have in the past or I may be going along with a different crowd than before. It comes back to that ‘flexible’ point. If it’s what I believe the Lord wants me to do I will do it. Not to offend or upset…but just to be obedient to the One Who matters most.

I think you hear already that I am a different person. I no longer cower, afraid of my own shadow. I am a confident, self-assured woman willing to take risks, accept challenges, and learn a lot along the way. I am in awe of the wonder.

It may get messy and it is critical in those moments how we work it through – together. I am still fighting the decades old voices in my head that automatically make everything my fault even when it’s not. So when it gets messy – when I need reproval and restoration – do it with love, understanding you are speaking to a new person building a new foundation. Help me build; don’t tear down. Because it’s really GOD who is doing the building. Sometimes I get to be the nail, other times the hammer, and sometimes the wood being hammered with the nail. But the bottom line is the master carpenter is at work in my life, building a new foundation – stronger, more secure, and better than before – and I hope you can get past the surprise of the ‘new Sue’ and instead see Him at work and join Him in the process. I don’t want to alienate myself or anyone else, but I need to follow this path, even when – ESPECIALLY when – I don’t know where it is leading. This is new and unchartered territory for me, too, but I declare this: Where He leads I will follow. End of story.

More declarations from my writing friends and fellow ragamuffins Jennifer and Leisa can be found at and respectively.

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