Thursday, March 5, 2015

Be Free!

Depression is the surest sign that you are stuck.  Growth is not happening.  I've been there and it feels so impossible -- like trying to push an elephant uphill.

The weeds of evil seem impossible to remove when they've been growing for a long time.  Until we acknowledge evil and face it head-on, there is no chance to fly away.  The truth is, we want to blame someone else for the losses incurred by stuckness.  And someone else may have locked us in a cage.  However, the answer doesn't lie in blame.  If it did, we'd be waiting endlessly for the person who locked us up to come along with the key.

God gave each of us "wings."  They are the ability we have to choose.  No one can take away our ability to choose.  They may try to convince us that we have no choice.  We may believe them for a time.  The truth is that we choose to believe them and we choose to stay in the cage.

How is this possible?

The cages we're in have to be identified.  That is why we can't just fly away.  Introspection may help us to identify our condition.  But just as quick as we know the lie that the cage represents and replace it with the truth, we are free.

That is the power in Jesus' words, "I am the truth" and "The truth shall make you free."

That all sounds so simple. So lets have ourselves a real life example.

CS Lewis had a number of tragedies early in life that put a literal cage around him.  His mother died when he was ten.  He was immediately shipped off to a horrible boarding school, Wynyard, where he witnessed repeated physical child abuse.  The images of abuse tortured him. But what is worse, these images got twisted into his emerging sexuality.  They stimulated a sexual response that trapped him in an imaginary world.  Other situational events put pressure on him to choose evil which he resisted as best he could.

Through a process of writing a mythological tale called Dymer, Lewis was able to discover that he had created the monster in his mind through some of his choices.  (I would argue that he was also given a monster at Wynyard).  He faced the monster and "killed" it.  The result was that he was able to begin resolving his issues of faith and gradually he came to accept Christianity.  (Source:  Jack by George Sayer)

Some of the cages I've identified are emotions.  Some are false "I am" statements.  Some are based on false assumptions we make about ourselves that protect another person.  Some are taught to us by someone we respect.

Vincent Van Gogh said: "In the springtime a bird in a cage knows very well that there’s something he’d be good for; he feels very clearly that there’s something to be done but he can’t do it; what it is he can’t clearly remember,and he has vague ideas and says to himself, “the others are building their nests and making their little ones and raising the brood,” and he bangs his head against the bars of his cage. And then the cage stays there and the bird is mad with suffering. “Look, there’s an idler,” says another passing bird — that fellow’s a sort of man of leisure. And yet the prisoner lives and doesn’t die; nothing of what’s going on within shows outside, he’s in good health, he’s rather cheerful in the sunshine. But then comes the season of migration. A bout of melancholy — but, say the children who look after him, he’s got everything that he needs in his cage, after all — but he looks at the sky outside, heavy with storm clouds, and within himself feels a rebellion against fate. I’m in a cage, I’m in a cage, and so I lack for nothing, you fools! Me, I have everything I need! Ah, for pity’s sake, freedom, to be a bird like other birds!
An idle man like that resembles an idle bird like that.…You may not always be able to say what it is that confines, that immures, that seems to bury, and yet you feel [the] bars."  Source
One key to unlocking the cage and being free is in the truth.  So if I assumed I am ugly, the key is in seeing the truth about my intrinsic beauty.  If I assumed that I can't do it, then I need to be brave and try to do the thing I fear.  I can be free and being free is worth it.  I've made a short video about this.

Jesus offers us hope when he says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)  He is stronger than all the evils of mortality.  His way will take us through this world and into a better one.  I'm sure of this.

Another key unlocking the cage is forgiveness.  Forgiveness releases blame and anger and allows you to move on to other life experiences.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” 
– Lewis Smedes

A third key that might be helpful is finding a reason to leave the cage.  Mission is the God-given assignment to act on the gifts God has given us.  It is a reason for living.   I've written about mission here.

Jesus offers us hope when he says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)  He is stronger than all the evils of mortality.  His way will take us through this world and into a better one.  I'm sure of this.

If you liked this post you might like Beaty of Holiness

Birdcage image courtesy Frank Serritelli/Flickr

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