Do you ever have one of those moments where you see or hear something and it just clicks? Where suddenly you feel like you found that piece of the puzzle you were searching and searching for? I had one of those today. Here's how it started:
Last night I cried my way through the new season premier of the Biggest Loser. Parents & kids, family, couples, all suffering from being overweight. I know - you think these people just need to stop eating. I need to just stop eating. But it's SO much more than an issue about what goes into my mouth.
Then today I was listening to a message on iTunes from a church in Denver. The topic was 'Absolute Truth' referencing Galatians 2 and I thought it sounded good, then the pastor started talking about how the only real freedom is found in restriction - then it got interesting. In fact, a couple of his examples in discussing this could have been taken right from my life. Paul, in Galatians, says very clearly that it is 'TRUTH that sets us free' and this speaker argues that almost every aspect of our culture today there is the prevalent idea that there is no absolute truth because everyone wants or believes their absolutes are the only truth, which of course bumps up against someone else's truth... People don't like restrictions like that. I know I don't. I listened to this podcast and had to refrain from answering back, things like, "I hate when 'they' do that!" & "Right! Who are 'they' to think they get to decide what I do?!?" And then he said something that seems polar opposite to what I have always thought of as truth regarding my personal freedom.
"Freedom requires restriction... Freedom is found in restriction." What??? ***
I have heard this before, or something similar, and never quite 'gotten it' in the past and suddenly it makes sense. For instance, my weight - if I am living a life without restrictions, I am actually limiting my freedom and even cutting the quality and length of my life.. This is limiting my quality of life, because of the resulting weight I choose to not do some things socially. I did not go to my 20 year class reunion (there were other reasons & other things going on, but this was one of the reasons and I hadn't said it out loud to anyone. I still may deny it if you bring it up, because I like to think that I'm just fine...), I don't do things the kids might like to do because it's too strenuous. I perpetuate a nasty cycle in my daily activities of eating poorly which increases tiredness followed by watching some TV because I am so tired, and then that gets me sucked in to some show that is not worth my time to watch, but I'll stay up late to watch it anyway, making me more tired, and hungry... Epiphany! If I were to restrict my activities in regard to eating (make better food choices, eat less, deny my flesh, stop eating to fill an emotional or spiritual need) I would actually gain freedom in this area of my life. By restricting myself, freedom may be gained!
Another example was of a musician who sacrificed and restricted themselves when younger by practicing and working hard so when they are older, they have the freedom to use, practice and bless with the gift of music. I had 12 years of piano lessons and I did 7-8 of them kicking and screaming and doing the minimal amount to get by all because someone else was not going to tell me what to do or how to practice of play. And now, at almost 40, wow do I wish I had imposed some restrictions on myself and how freeing it would be to have more confidence and skills when playing in front of people!
And then I thought of a few more examples. I have a good friend who has really changed herself to fit into the marriage relationship she is in. Conversations often include statement's like, " 'Bob' thinks 'this' works better or is the right way to do that" and through the years of our relationship I have interpreted this as a completely one-sided, wrong relationship. An acquaintance, male this time, has made comments like, "She would have picked this church, but I wanted that one, so we go to that one," or "She wanted to do this but I said no." And I would inwardly shudder. In these relationships and statements, what I hear is how little freedom these ladies have. I am always trying to make sure I am heard. If my opinion is not considered and acted on, I don't think you have been paying attention. After all, aren't I free to think what I think and want what I want?
And then as a parent, THIS is what I am trying to explain to our teenager! (Duh!) You come home from school, you do your homework, you do your chores, then you may play Xbox. If you don't do this, you get poor grades or the chores are not done you will definitely lose some freedom... Makes sense to me!
Am I really trying to get a teenager to accept this when I am not modeling it? Wow. In my defense, I didn't have words for exactly what I was doing and how I was hindering my own freedom until right now, but... just WOW!
So this is part of the mystery of why, no matter how hard and viciously I fight, I am not experiencing freedom as I try to make my own way, get my own way or try to make others see how much better (not!) my way is.
By restricting myself, in the ways and areas God is indicating, real freedom can be found!
*** I invite you to hear the podcast here. The above is only a smidgen of the message and info in the message from September 27, 2009, titled 'Hedonists for Jesus: Absolutes' from the Arvada Vineyard Church.