Weekly I attend a fellowship where the simplest and most sacred ideas arrive as a topic of discussion. Today the idea was FREEDOM. I noticed it meant something different to everyone in the room. We all have an idea of what our personal freedom should look like and yet it may be that idea which actually keeps us from the freedom we crave.
For many years I was afraid of flying. Smooth air. Rough air. It really didn’t matter. I just found the whole thing far too vulnerable. But, I did it. Never causing a scene, I would sit in my seat, buckled up, quietly dissolving from the shocking amounts of anxiety coursing through my veins. Occasionally I would get enough comfort to ask for a cookie, thinking to myself, finally I’m calm enough to eat. However, it would be short lived. Soon enough the icy hot goo would once again flow through my blood. It was a hideous experience that kept me in such fear!
Until recently, I accepted this would be my way of life. Of course I had prayed and prayed for freedom, but none had come and so, what else can one do, but surrender. I wish I could tell you what happened, however, I am not sure. My experience was very strange and my freedom most unexpected.
I was heading to New York, with all of the usual anxiety I had become accustomed to. Taking my seat, I buckled in and waited. We took off and I noticed I wasn’t thinking about the flight nearly as much. After some time I got lost in a conversation with another passenger until I heard the flight attendant say we were beginning our initial decent. She also said, it’s going to be bumpy, so keep your seat belts fastened. Oh Lord!, I thought, have mercy.
As our plane flew through cloud after cloud jostling to and fro I notice the strangest thing, I was quietly singing and I had absolutely no fear. I felt my mother (who I was traveling with) reach for my hand. After a few minutes I looked at her and said, “it’s ok. I’m not afraid.” And, I wasn’t.
What had happened? Where was the fear? What had changed?
As I sat in my circle today, considering this idea of freedom, I thought, I believe that is what I experienced, right in the middle of a turbulent plane ride. However, I was left with a question, why had the freedom come now after so many years of praying for it?
What I heard, in the way I hear God, is, “you were ready”.
Ready, I questioned.
As time has passed those words, “you were ready”, began to sink into my bone marrow a little deeper, my understanding becoming clearer.
The freedom had been there all along, I had not been ready to receive it. Let me just say that again, the freedom had been there all along, I had not been ready to receive it.
You see, what I have discovered is we are more attached to our pain than we care to admit. We are more comfortable with limits than we are wide open spaces. We get a great deal out of deciding who we are and living within that framework, even if it is paralysing. It seems “knowing” is of greater value to us than the unknown, which I am more and more convinced is where the true freedom lives.
Even though I said, please free me, I was not ready to receive the freedom I had been handed. The fear was at least what I knew. I know it may sound insane. I’m okay with that. However, consider this:
A group of preschool children were playing on their school playground. It was a large yard with a huge fence around it. Day after day they would run to all edges of the fence, screaming with delight. One day the children were let out for recess only to find the fence had been removed. FREEDOM. No. Those young ones played in a small circle in the middle of the yard uncertain of what to do. They ran less. They explored less. They screamed and laughed less. You see, the boundary of the fence made sense to them. Without such a limitation they became terrified.
We are no different than the sweet preschoolers. The boundary of fear, addiction, pain – physical and emotional, anger, codependency, hate, and the like keep us in a state of “knowing”. The knowing becomes our idol. We mistake it for truth and never really fly into our FREEDOM.
The freedom is already there….. when you are ready for it.
Who would I be without the fear? What about being that scares me?
—sending you love wherever you are in the world.