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.


Anonymous said...

Awesome Mercy. It seems like you have grown in leaps and bounds. Here is a quote that I think is appropriate for the anonymous poster. It is by a lady named Ann Voskamp.
"Because our story is who we are, and if we deny it, we deny not only our own selves – we deny the very Author Who’s writing this redemptive epic."
Keep on seeking Him and you will find Him. Life is a journey and it's all about a relationship with Father in that journey. Thanks for writing!

B & A

Anonymous said...

Parts of your story will make up parts of your childrens' stories. Difficult, heartbreaking, and a long road to recovery? Most definately. But this is now part of who they are, and rather than ask "Will they think it was worth it" MAKE it worthwhile for them. Let them learn and grow from this. The time for asking "how will this affect them" is now past, and you have a job to do to make it the best you can for them. From experience, children move beyond these things, and learn to trust again. It will be ok, with time.