October 11, 2010

Living Free: Worth It?

Freedom is so much more than simply the lack of confinement. I know many people who could be confined, limited, restrained by their circumstances, whether a chronic illness, financial difficulties, lack of education, or physical limitations. Yet they live free – resolutely and exuberantly free lives. And I know others who seem to have it all, but still live a life constrained by fear and anxiety, bitterness, grudges held, forgiveness not extended.

It’s similar to the difference created by living an “I should” life versus an “I could” life. “Should,” the idea of one right choice, compels through fear. “Could,” the idea of limitless options, allows me to govern myself in freedom.

Was it worth it? Would Ladybug and Wild Thing think it was worth it? Yes, anonymous commenter, and here’s one reason why: Nothing in my life or from my past is ever wasted or thrown out with the garbage; it’s all composted and assimilated into a growing life – if I allow it. I get to make that choice. I get to choose whether or not I dread the day ahead, or embrace it. I get to choose whether I will allow God to work in my life or not. Because, contrary to popular thought, God is not the Great Controller. He’s not the big guy in the sky managing and manipulating people and circumstances and situations. He won’t ever shoulder me aside and insist on working in my life. But he’ll come in if I let him, and if I ask him to somehow work through it for my good and his fame, he will. Jesus didn’t leave us with the Controller, he left us with the Comforter, the one who will help me maneuver my life in freedom. He’s not out to get me, punish me, or shame me – he’s out to love me. And I understand that through this situation. I know it and have lived it and experienced the goodness and grace and mercy and boundless love of God in and through the last two years. And I can impart that to my children.

Here’s another reason: I am free to live a life characterized by freedom. I don’t live in the fear and punishment world anymore – and I’m not talking about my physical surroundings. Because I don’t live there, I don’t have to raise my children there. We can have a real heart-to-heart connection. They don’t have to be afraid of punishment or the threat of punishment. I don’t have to try to control them. I no longer have to live in the Christian hypocrisy of talking about love and unity but using fear and intimidation to exert control because of my own insecurities. I don’t have to be afraid of their mistakes. I can show them that I can handle it. I can introduce them to freedom, and allow them to practice messing up. They can be themselves, find out about who they are, practice freedom, and they can run to me and their dad when they’re in trouble, because we’re the safest place for them when they’ve blown it. I will never allow anything to be more important to me than my connection to my children. Not homework, chores, obedience, respect – there is nothing that I will allow to sever my connection with them, and I will work to live that as an experience for them. I think they’ll appreciate that. 

Here’s a third reason: The experience saved my marriage from being a sham of obligations. I learned what it means to be faithful and loving and loyal, about what it means to make choices that protect my husband’s heart, about what it’s like to be separated by distance and razor wire and yet still live in his presence, because my heart is connected to his heart. I learned how to be a real person in my marriage – a complicated, emotional, imperfect, authentic person. I can’t teach my children about any of this unless I know and live it myself. 

Yes, real freedom is so much more than simply the lack of confinement. It’s not the external props of our lives that make us free, it’s the timeless qualities like self-control, love, kindness, courage, honor, and humor. 

Was it worth it? Was there something of value to be found the wreckage?  It was costly. It was difficult.  It was gut-gripping misery to be away from all three of them.  But yes, it was worth it. Was it worth it for them, too? Absolutely.

September 16, 2010

Making Sense

I wander around the house, gathering things up, organizing them into usefulness.  Cars to the toy drawer.  Mail to the desk.  Socks to the laundry basket.  Coats on hooks, shoes by the door, a glass into the dishwasher, pillows back onto the couch, adjust the picture so it hangs straight. 

In much the same way, I've spent the past few weeks wandering through my life.  Readjusting to my family.  Sifting through our routines.  Assessing our values.  Arranging my thoughts into usefulness, organizing my experiences in a way that makes sense, brings clarity, offers meaning. 

I'm home.  The adjustment is different than I thought it would be.  Some things are the same.  Many more are different.  Soon, I'll begin to share about it.  About where I was, where I am now, and about how the last two years were, shockingly, worth it.  I'm not saying it was easy.  Or that I want to do it all over again.  But it was worth it

August 17, 2010


The story is long and winding, but the end result is that I'm home -- home with my husband, and our children. More soon!