I’ve always wanted a reason to yell, “FREEEEDOMMMM!” you know, just like William Wallace does as he charges Bravehearted-ly with his fellow Scots into oncoming Englishmen. I’ve also always wanted a reason to saddle a horse, pick up a sword, and slather some blue paint on my face, but that’s another story…
Have you ever felt that kind of freedom? You know, it’s the nothing left to lose, sold out for the cause, no turning back, “for freedom you have been set free” type of freedom. I have…and it’s AMAZING! And I can’t believe I’ve only been at it for 14 months now. But, better now than never I always say.
It began on a cold September morning as I meandered through my neighborhood distressed about why everything I wanted and everything I had planned wasn’t there and wasn’t happening. Towards the end of my walk and in the midst of the chaos ensuing in my mind, I heard a small profound voice say,
“You’re done Alyssa.”
“Wait…what?” I heard myself blurt out loud, as I stopped dead in my tracks expecting to hear more. Don’t I have to figure this all out and don’t I have to be in control of my future? I’m an American. I’m supposed to be stressed out, right??
It’s hard for me to explain the mysterious reality of this moment. I’ve never felt anything like it. I usually try to compare it to those scenes in Braveheart where the warriors really don’t have anything left to lose and they just go for it. (For any of you struggling to connect with the Braveheart analogy, imagine my self-centered life as an ex-boyfriend and then take a listen to the country song “A Little Bit Stronger” by Sarah Evans). The rest of the day was sort of a blur, but I remember marinating on the idea of what it would be like to forget everything about myself and start focusing on others. The word freedom resounded over and over.
I am FREE. FREE from myself. FREE to love others without worry. I am intended to be FREE. In losing myself I am FREE. FREEdom is so FREEing!
I could go on and on and tell you all the ways I experienced freedom, but mostly I’m telling you all of this because I want so badly for you experience it and tell your own story. Life is meant to be lived in light of this freedom. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. For me it started with engaging with the woman bagging my groceries. I can’t believe how I never noticed before how much people just want to be heard and acknowledged. It also looked like that day I invited all of my neighbors over for breakfast because I was tired of not knowing the people living around me. It didn’t matter what I was doing specifically, it just mattered that I was doing something that didn’t revolve around me gaining anything. And you know what? Freedom brought absolute joy. Seriously.
To be honest though, the choice to be free didn’t come without struggle. I’ll describe it using the Proverb that says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.” And as much as I’d like to profess there is NO WAY I’d ever look twice at a bowl of upchuck, there is something strangely alluring about it. And I confess that I did temporarily return to my old ways. This is a very gross analogy. Sorry if you’re getting nauseous. But just know that experiencing freedom can be a tough battle. It’s not usually comfortable. But it’s worth it.
So here’s the point: Go out and experience freedom. Yep, I’m challenging you talk to a complete stranger, not because it makes you a better person, but because it breathes life into someone else. And don’t just do it once. Make it a part of your daily life. Don’t believe the lie that we are all out for ourselves because self absorption is just another way of putting ourselves bondage. I like the way John Ortberg says it (in a book that has a ridiculously long title but has changed my life nonetheless) “It’s a paradox: Self-preoccupation is actually self-defeating and produces loneliness.”
My fellow warriors, I am challenging you to run into this battle with me. Go on. Go out. Love others. And Listen. What do you have to lose?
Oh and please come back and tell me your story!
Ya, that about sums it up.