Free to Be

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The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

DIGGING IN MY TOES!

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Ah! The joy of releasing tired, hot feet from the confines of shoes and socks! My mom and I used to kid about our “hillbilly blood” because our shoes inevitably fell off when we came home. Warm summer rain showers were the perfect opportunity for my brothers and me to splash barefoot up and down our gravel drive in town. On summer trips with the family, I remember digging my toes into the soft warm dirt of my grandparents’ country drive. Have you ever walked through a wet vegetable garden and ended up doubling the thickness of the soles of your shoes with mud?! Just walking becomes an effort.

Sometimes our lives get like that, mired down with stuff that drags us down and overwhelms. We splash barefoot before God in our pain and doubt and it is difficult to see joy. When His wonderful grace and love showers down upon us, we in our weariness do not always see it. We may be unable to receive until it has had time to soak in. I love the words of the psalmist who wrote, (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. * Like on those warm summer days, we can dig our toes into the strength of His being. God lifts us up and sets us on solid ground. What joy and release when we stand with Him in faith, free of the confines of life which weigh us down!

* Psalm 40:2