What does freedom mean to me this year?

“We retract so that we might retrace faith. We repent so that we might relive grace. We remove so that we might reclaim space. We remind so that we might revere His name. We reorient so that new view might reveal His face. We retell so that stories might rekindle praise. We rest so that weary souls might run the race.” -Rachel Kang

We remove so that we might reclaim space. Is this Freedom? Reclaiming space for the things that don’t hold us back. Reclaiming space for the things that benefit us… removing the negative to allow space for the positive. I’d like to think that by setting my mind free and opening myself up to the allow space that I am giving myself freedom.

But, how much freedom is beneficial? Can’t too much freedom be worse than being completely bound? Isn’t lack of freedom somewhat necessary? Discipline, for example, is not freedom. Responsibilities are not freedom. Guilt, Pain, Grief… those are not freedoms we are afforded. They are constraints. Yet, sometimes these constraints set us free once we process, remove and reclaim.

I was speaking with a dear friend this morning about freedom. The notion of freedom and why we long for it has been in the foreground of my mind all week. Perhaps I’m feeling restless, who knows? But, my longing for being FREED from my paralyzing anxiety is insatiable at this point. I need to figure out how to accomplish this goal. (which is also why I am journaling through Lent this year… it's therapeutic they say).

Anyhow, I posed this question:

How do you strive for freedom when you are not striving for isolation?

It is a little off topic from what I discussed above. However, I do think it’s important to process some of my feelings about freedom with regard to my relationships with people… freedom from my marriage? Freedom from toxic friendships? Freedom from toxic behaviors?

The point is, when something doesn’t feel good, I tend to want to free myself from it. The anxiety doesn’t feel good… so I’m working to free myself. We have (had?) serious problems in our marriage, so I left to work on the problems I created.

Does it mean I want to be isolated? It is easier to pretend that is what I want sometimes. But, no. I don’t really think I want to spend an eternity away from all people. I need time, often, to be alone. That’s not isolation, though.

I have encountered people who argue that freedom means to be able to do what they want without punishment/consequences. That’s not freedom… that’s acting like a toddler. “Because I didn’t feel like doing it! I wanted to do what I wanted to do! Your expectations are too high!” That, to me, is impossible, selfish, and deeply damaging to building true relationship skills that help us succeed in life.

So, no, to strive for freedom is neither to strive for actions sans consequences nor is it to strive for isolation.

So back to this morning. My friend said this in response to my question:

“People are hardwired for connection. Forcing yourself into isolation is not freedom. It is a kind of binding. I don’t think we can escape from binding at all. What we can do is choose our bindings.”

What we can do is CHOOSE our bindings. Mind blown. So simply put, yet so profoundly accurate. Freedom is a choice. The choice to love who we want to love. The choice to work where we want to work. The choice to make horrible mistakes and understand there are wicked consequences if we get caught.

We choose to be bound to what holds us back from complete freedom. (Because complete freedom is truly only attainable for people who don’t care about other people). We choose to commit to someone and work within the bindings of compromise and collaboration in order to be as fulfilled as possible. We set expectations based on what we need to feel safe and nurtured. We graciously bind ourselves to another because we believe in love and light and faith. Freedom.

We can also CHOOSE remove so that we might reclaim space. I chose to remove myself (whether temporarily or permanently) from my marriage so that I could reclaim the space in my heart needed to love myself. I am choosing to remove the bindings of emotional self harm in order reclaim space for a deeper understanding of my heart and soul. I choose to remove the blockade in front of my repressed trauma in order to reclaim space for healing.

I choose all of these things, today, in order to reclaim my space in the world. And, to me, I think that is freedom.

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