“He takes the shackles off my feet, so I can dance”

Mandisa’s words mocked me and brought tears to my eyes. I was afraid. I was in pain. I was on crutches and waiting for answers about what was wrong. “Do I have bone cancer?  Will I need surgery? Are they missing something? Will I ever be able to walk without pain?” The thoughts invaded my time of worship… or maybe they became prayers.  I could not dance.  To be honest, I could barely walk. I desperately wanted to dance. I’m one of “those” people. I am as expressive in worship as I am in everything else. The truth is, I am as hyper in church as I am everywhere else. I can’t sit still. I’m the Tigger of Christianity. It was torturous to not be able to dance. I swayed. I wobbled. I tapped my feet and pushed my limits. But, I did not dance.

The tears streaming down my face, left mascara skid marks.(FYI: Not a good look.)

That was one year ago.

I was angry. I was serving Jesus and (to be honest) I was suffering as I did it.. and I could’t even dance. Something I love so much -I think it’s part of my DNA. I felt totally ripped off. But- as Mandisa sang…. I found hope and joy… there are bigger shackles that I’ve worn- that keep me from dancing more than physically. Shackles of shame, fear, doubt insecurity. As I stood there…. I thought about all the ways God has been removing those shackles.. My tears of sadness and fear and anger- turned to joy. I knew that If he could remove those shackles- he could removal the shackle of pain I was going through….

A few weeks later- I was referred to a new doctor- an oncologist. (Yeah, that was fun. NOT.)  In the first 5 minutes of our meeting she confirmed that it was NOT cancer- and that she could fix the stress fractures that had caused me so much pain. A week later, she did just that with a chunk of titanium and some screws.

Last week- Mandisa joined us again at MOPS International Convention and she sang the song again.

This year- I could dance. And I did. But, I had to be careful. I’m once again, in a season of sucktastic pain. Every time I try to get healthy-(Ive been biking- as per the doctors recommendation to give up the running thing- cause we know how that ended.)  my body falls apart. We recently found out I have some pretty crummy degeneration of discs in my neck. And bone spurs. And Arthopathy. And moderate to severe narrowing of and impingement of some nerve roots in my spine. It stinks.

I’m in pain. I’m having neurological symptoms. (pain, weakness and tingling in my arms and hands in addition to my neck and shoulder.) I am having a hard time doing simple things, like buttoning my pants, cutting my food and securing my bra. Sometimes I laugh about it. (I call it the Zombie hand) Sometimes I cry. I am afraid. Yesterday,I had an MRI and I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon next week. I have a family history of severe back problems.(My dad has Degenerative disc disease and has had several procedures and my mom had her spine fused from t3 to the pelvis in March, due to severe scoliosis etc…..)I honestly have no clue what they will find/ recommend.

But I know this: one year ago- I faced many of the same questions, fears, doubts and anger….and he took the shackles off my feet (once again) so I could dance. I believe he’ll do it again. When Mandisa sang those lyrics again this year- I left the session with mascara skid marks once again. And once again- I found hope in those words….He has a plan.. to remove our shackles…… not just to let us stubble around through life- but so we can DANCE.

I’ll be honest- I don’t like the current plan. I hate pain. I don’t want surgery. I am angry and afraid. Those mascara skid marks were made by a mixed bag of tears.. hopeful ones that God will help, and angry ones that I’m in pain again. along with some happy ones that my leg is so much better…

I may not like it- but- I  know this- God is involved. I can already see it. My primary care physician gave me a referral to a neurosurgeon. Who just so happens to be the neurosurgeon who changed my mom’s life back in March by fixing what so many doctors had said could not be fixed. Her spine.. He gave her life back to her when pain was stealing it. He removed the shackles so she could dance……He’s also the head of neurology for a hospital our insurance participates with. I have to believe it’s not an accident. It’s God’s presence at work in our lives.

I wasn’t expecting that the hand/ tingling thing was my neck. I thought I had carpal tunnel. (Web MD: FAIL) I went into shock when my primary care physician said he thinks I’ll need surgery. I didn’t hear another word he said. But- when he handed me that business card. Of the doctor I prayed would help my mom.. I felt God. I was still afraid- But I’m confident that God will remove this shackle to.  I WILL DANCE.

My favorite verse- “He who began a good work in you, is faithful to complete it.” I believe he is at work even now. Completing his plan for me.To remove every shackle. So I can dance. If not here- someday in heaven.

I don’t know how you’re feeling today. But – someone out there is probably feeling shackled just like me. Angry. Scared. Desperate to dance- but shackled by something that won’t let you.

  • Is it fear that keeps you from dancing into the call of God in your life?
  • Is it anger that keeps you shackled to hurt?
  • Is it an unmet desire that has you shackled to need that makes you feel like you are too needy to give- or maybe even live?
  • Is it physical- sickness/disability junk that keeps you from – literally (or figuratively) dancing?

You’re not alone.  Neither am I- this (and MOPS International) is a safe place to share our shackles…share them in the comments- I’ll be praying for you. Maybe we can even help each other shed them- so we can dance. Together.

Lord Jesus- I pray for each one who reads- your word says you desire to give us freedom… I pray that we can find it  and hope in you. Remove our shackles Lord, so we can dance… in Jesus name- amen.


Written by Warryn Campbell, Erica Atkins-Campbell, and Trecina Atkins-Campbell

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

In the corners of mind
I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe
That I can break free
‘Cause you see I have been down for so long
Feel like all hope is gone
But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance

Everything that could go wrong
All went wrong at one time
So much pressure fell on me
I thought I was gonna lose my mind
But I know You wanna see
If I will hold on through these trials
But I need You to lift this load
Cause I can’t take it no more

Been through the fire and the rain
Bound in every kind of way
But God has broken every chain
So let me go