The Feeling of Freedom
I was thinking the other day about the concept of freedom.
When I say "freedom," I don't mean the degraded version of the word dragged through the muck of the politics of our day.
Far too many people in our current culture seem to be basing their political affiliations on which party they believe will either preserve or fight for their personal freedom.
And yet, they unwittingly will then vote against their own self-interests, against the very notion of freedom they espouse, and align themselves with ideology that actually reduces their freedoms.
For all those who seem to be occupied with that version of freedom, no one seems to be talking about the concept of freedom itself, nor are they talking about what it actually feels like to be free.
I tried to remember a time when I felt completely free, and I had to go back to when I was a child, again as a teenager, and then as a young man.
Most of us would do the same. There's something about our seasons of youth that smacks of freedom, right? I was less certain about the world then, and the future seemed bright. I wasn't afraid.
I was more inclined to live in the moment, to take each day as it came. That is how most of us spend our youth, for better or worse. And then we grow up.
Some of us grow up sooner than others, but none get through adulthood unscathed. The freedom we once had in our youth fades away, and we only occasionally tap into that feeling again.
When I was thinking through these things, I decided to write a poem about it. I thought I'd share it here:
Be Set Free
The sound of freedom is never free.
It repeats in echoes, reverbs that we
hold in bondage with the boldness of those
who speak in complete certainty but never know
that danger awaits if we dare to believe
that freedom is found if we only conceive
its' full glory, absolute goodness, and grace.
But the true sound that we seek, we try to erase;
It's too costly to realize; we simply can't bear
to hear that freedom is hard to win and to share,
so we choose instead to chide, and we flail,
without the stubborn will of those who prevail,
those few who are favored with gods-honest-truth:
true freedom is found only by those who deduce
that freedom springs forth from within a soul
set free of the sin of certainty and a need for control.
Aside from being one of the few poems I've written that rhymes, this was one of my favorites. I felt like it encapsulated how we struggle against our own sense of freedom, so much so that we often project our frustration onto our circumstances, culture, religion, and politics.
True freedom comes from letting go of our need for certainty and control and learning to have hope in God and God's purposes.
When we do, we also begin to realize that all of the moments in our lives where we felt free were moments when we felt that kind of hope for the future, even as we were fully present in the present.
We did it when we were kids because we felt like the future was wide open. But as we got older, we believed that wide-open future had so narrowed that there were few, if any, paths forward that felt like freedom.
The future was always wide open, though, and it still is for all of us.
None of us need to be certain about it, nor do we need to wrestle for control over it. God is already in our future, "preparing a place for us." There is nothing there to fear.
So feel free because you are. Revel in it. Let it fill up your lungs and come out as laughter. Be present in this moment, taking it all in with joy, no matter your circumstances.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, now and forever. Amen.