On Freedom.

Problem: Adulthood is a bit of a blur. If your not careful, and most times even if you are, responsibilities start to pile up. The hours grow slippery and seem to slip through your fingers. This gets even more clear once you have children. Children can become all-consuming and leave you with not a lot of energy for anything other than sleep and recovery.

We’ve all met people who seem to move through life with the enthusiasm of a sloth. Seemingly bound on all sides by responsibility and the prison of debt – whether financial, emotional, or spiritual. They may have the trappings of a successful life but their spirit seems heavy.

How do we remain afloat as the waters of responsibility rise around us?

There is a poem from Kahllil Gibran that I think of when I consider the how we should structure our life – mentally and spiritually as we acquire responsibilities.

You shall be free indeed when your days

are not without a care nor your nights with-

out a want and a grief,

    But rather when these things girdle your

life and yet you rise above them naked and

unbound.

    And how shall you rise beyond your

days and nights unless you break the chains

which you at the dawn of your under-

standing have fastened around your noon

hour?

    In truth that which you call freedom is

the strongest of these chains, though its

links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.

    And what is it but fragments of your own

self you would discard that you may become

free?

-On Freedom – Kahlil Gibran
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This poem reminds me of a couple things – that the dream of freedom can itself become a prison and that freedom is not the absence of responsibility but the enjoyment of life and pursuit of purpose despite the responsibilities.

That’s one reason I think it’s very important that we make time to pursue the things that feed you at least one hour a day. Make this pursuit a habit and prioritize your enjoyment even as the responsibilities of life multiply.

I know this is hard to do, but I also know its worth it.

Fly or Fall

OFO

North x Northwest

I can’t remember the last time that I used a compass. Perhaps when I was a cub scout, searching for ways to accumulate badges as if each were worth its weight in gold. Somewhere in my outdoor adventures, there was a time where I held some version of the small round device that magically, no matter where I was in the world, would point me North.

The compass needle wasn’t influenced by the obstacles that may have lain in the pathway north or how easy the path southward is.

A compass has one job, and that is to point you in the direction that it is aligned with.

Life was much simpler as a cub scout. As you grow, black and white is replaced with a whirlpool of gray and possibilities of what to pursue multiply, which is both liberating and paralyzing. If I can become anything I want to be, how do I know what I SHOULD be?

Do I follow my passion, my reason, my religion?

How do I know where all of the possibilities intersect with the gifts that lie within me?

How do I prepare for the future while respecting and appreciating the present?

Balancing and navigating these questions is the work of adulthood.

If you’ve read this far, your probably wondering, ok, well, what do you propose be a guiding principal for the decisions we’re making as we’re navigating life?

Fear.

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Now, I think its important that we define what kind of fear I’m referring to.

The fear I’m referring to isn’t the bone-chilling fear of being in a dark alley with a shadowy figure approaching. I’m not advocating pursuing life-threatening situations as a means to find meaning. For most of the people reading this, your fear isn’t related to survival or making sure that you evade predators, but probably more along the lines of being exposed as being inadequate, or failing at something hard, or losing someone important to you.

Also I’m not sure if I’m advocating for using fear as a guiding principle as much as a compass that points towards something true. Just because the compass points north doesn’t mean that you should be heading north. However, knowing what direction is North is helpful no matter which direction your heading in.

So, why fear? What information does fear give us? When should we listen? How do we know when to ignore it and move forward?

In my life, fear is a marker of the edge of my belief. Fear gives me a definite boundary for exactly where my faith stops. Understanding this boundary is important because often times, when we feel the tremor of fear, we do everything we can to unconsciously arrange our lives not to approach that boundary again, in the hope that we can avoid the discomfort. This is, perhaps, a mistake. In the interest of growth, it may be worth it to sit on the edge of that boundary and inspect it for what truth is it conveying?

  • Am I afraid because I made something other than God my source?
  • Am I afraid because I don’t want to disappoint others or myself?
  • Is this fear rational or emotionally driven? Is this fear a product of worry about the future or regret about the past?

Sitting at the edge of your fear will give you INFORMATION. This information if you allow it to can inform you of the path towards growth.

This is not easy work. Easy work makes for a hard life.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Fly or fall.

OFO

Self-Imposed Shackles

I have a voice in my head.

I’m sure you probably have a similar one.

Sometimes, I don’t mind this voice in my head. It allows me to think through potential situations and do cool things like self-reflect.

Most times, however, my voice is complaining and annoying. I mean, it sounds like me, but it often says things that put me in a bad mood or make me angry.

It’s taking me a long time to start to wonder, why exactly I listen to this voice.

I think the original reason is that, like my ’99 honda accord, it was mine. No one else in the world had this particular voice, just me. So who could it be talking to but me. However, over the last couple of months, years, decades. I can see certain patterns in the voice. Patterns that don’t lead to forward progress in certain areas.

I think the voice is deathly afraid of risk, intimacy, and failure.

I’m no fan of these things either.

But I notice that the voice kicks up a steady stream of reasons why I shouldn’t risk a new venture, or let someone close to me, and how I can control failure by working to the exclusion of all other things, whenever I consider something that may fall into those categories.

What’s interesting is that in the short term – the voice is right.

I can avoid risk by not pursuing the things that excite me. I can keep my heart safe by only letting people in so far, and I can prevent failure by working hard on things that don’t matter. If I stay on the hamster wheel long enough, the voice might distract me from the dreams that lay on the horizon.

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For me, the first step in growing will be doing battle with the voice in my head and listening to the still, small voice in my soul that is pointing out into the horizon.

Even if that means I have to risk the safe place that the voice considers home.

Fly or Fall.

OFO

[8/4/22]

Hustling Backwards..

Me and work have a unhealthy relationship. I’m not sure exactly why. There’s probably a million reasons that I could point to:

  • My parents were immigrants and hard work was just a matter of survival
  • I live in a society where money is tied to productivity and I decided early I didn’t want to be poor
  • In the family I grew up in, work, especially paid labor was the great excuser – almost anything could be forgiven if work was the reason

This reality, unfortunately, has some unfortunate fruit. I can find myself using work as an excuse to avoid other, more important work. Whether that work in internal emotional work, spiritual work or just investing in family seems not to matter.

Being in relationship with someone who didn’t grow up with these same values can be a bit disorienting. The reaction to work used as a all-excuse is bewildering to me. Work isn’t viewed as a relevant excuse for missing important functions, which allows me to evaluate exactly why I’m working so hard and make sure that i’m being honest with myself.

One of the questions I have to ask myself is why am I working so hard? Of course, you should work heartily unto the lord but working all day – that may point to something else.

Psalm 127 speaks a bit about this:

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

Psalm 127:1-2

Too often I find myself working anxiously which at its base means, I really don’t trust God to provide for me. I think that I must create a pathway via work to provide for myself.

Lord forgive my inability to remember the many ways you’ve provided for me and and my family and help me to rest in You.

FOF.

OFO