Define Freedom

Today’s writing devotional asks what freedom means to me.

I didn’t want to tackle this question. Still don’t really, but to write is to explore. That includes exploring the darker, scarier places, whether they be in the mind or our surroundings, and to explore what makes us uncomfortable.

I don’t want to discuss what freedom means to me, and to me alone, because then it’s a matter of opinion only. I prefer facts to opinion, unless that opinion is informed with facts. That includes my own.

Yet I don’t want to cut and paste the Webster’s definition of freedom and call it a day. Your time is worth more than that.

I look to every controversy and question today’s society asks through two specific lenses: The importance of the individual and my Christian faith.

To define freedom I look to those two perspectives.

I didn’t get into trouble (much) growing up. I did far less than what my mom expected of both my sister and me. My mom said it was due to both of us having a strong sense of self-interest. Not selfishness, but in taking care that whatever we did wouldn’t have an adverse affect on our health and safety. We made mistakes, certainly, but nothing serious or permanent.

I boiled it down to something my mom told me when I was an early teen: “You can do whatever you want, but you will accept the consequences for them.”

Because my mom gave me the freedom to choose my actions, it put the fear of God into me (to use a phrase both literally and figuratively). Her words made me stop to consider what possible consequences I could face before, and not after I acted. It also meant my parents would not protect me from those consequences. They were my sole responsibility.

That’s what freedom truly is — not only the ability to decide our actions, but the necessity of accepting the consequences and responsibility for those actions.

My faith works the same way. God will not always stop me from making both good and bad choices, but he does expect me to take responsibility for them. He saved my soul, certainly, but he won’t always save me from the workings of this world. My actions are still my own, the consequences mine to accept, and I am to blame no one for them except me.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” — Galatians 6:4-5

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