Kimi and Sam are writing about freedom, what that word means to them, and asked me to respond. The timing is not great, because I’ve been self-describing as a commitmentphobe a lot lately to explain away a lot of the fears this new transition has brought up inside my soul. Finding a new job, being okay with the church I’m going to, not running away immediately to another city and starting over there as well, investing time to tell my stories to new people and hear their stories, and listening as if I am actually going to stay and tell new stories with them — these are all very, very hard things for me.
For my heart, freedom and commitment are very intertwined. So much of me always says, when faced with a new friend I’m not sure is “worth” taking the time to hang out with (oh, my cruel words!), “run away, start over, find someone new.” And with work — “find something else, you’ll be happier if you run.” Real intimacy, by which I mean loving someone and choosing to stay in their life, and doing that repeatedly, is extremely risky. There is the problem of an inconvenient tangle of lives, and the clutter of caring about things. It’s a lot easier to love and leave quickly. Real commitment to a project, a goal, a job, means that when it gets hard, I don’t have the freedom to toss in the towel. Staying hurts, Staying is scary.
So freedom can sometimes feel like that siren song, the pull that will probably guide me to go on wild adventures in other countries, the one that told me to streak my hair last night at 2am, the one that will always tell me, whenever I commit to anyone or anything, “there is more around the corner, and if you run away fast enough, you can catch it, and everything will be better.” This might be the siren song specially designed for my personal torture, or it might be the particular problem of a generation told they are to never be bored, unhappy, or uncomfortable, and if they are, they can fix it.
I’m not saying streaking my hair and my fear of intimacy are necessarily related. My hair looks amazing. I’m just saying that the wild gypsy freedom side of me will always choose her comfort above God’s will. And I am given that freedom to choose God or anything else. That’s kind of the tension of the human drama, isn’t it? Will I stay or run? Will I get involved or detach? Will I invest or withhold? Will I love or be numb? And what a peculiar God to entrust me with wrestling with those things.
Freedom. It’s the essence of being alive. I was created to choose things, because it’s in those choices that I am refined, that I go from point A to point B. I streak my hair. I go on a trip. I volunteer. I go to church. Nobody makes me do these things. But by choosing them, I move through my life with deliberation, and I grow. I have the freedom to text my new friend and invite her over to crochet and drink wine and talk about her trying to have a baby, even when it would be easier to just watch Gilmore Girls alone than to enter into some of her pain. I chose to invest in her, and guess what — I didn’t shrivel up and die or make immediate plans to move to France!
Freedom means risky commitment, and with it, pain and sorrow. Freedom to choose this risk opens the door to what life really is and all God says it can be. And freedom means that at the end of the day, whether I paint my nails neon green or call a friend going through a hard time, I can choose who to be, and choose to be the person that loves the Lord. Wild.
// FREEDOM. Any of you want to write about it? Leave your definition or thoughts in the comments below and I might put it in a post.