… so I’ve never seen ‘Braveheart’ (yep, I know, sorry!) but I hear there’s a quote about freedom in it. Over 18 months ago, during an early evening doze these words came to me;
“Freedom is larger than anything you could ever imagine, yet more fragile than anything you’ve ever known”
“Great”, I thought, “now that explains freedom to me”.
So I pondered about freedom for a while. Freedom is something we all long for and desire deep down. Freedom from, well quite frankly everything. We want to feel like we can live in a way that we want to, to be able to choose what we want when we want, to be able to go anywhere at anytime, say what we want when we want and do what we want to…
“If I want to hit that snooze button all day, then sit in bed and eat chocolate spread on toast I should flipping well be able to. Freedom!!! Yes!! Finally!”
Is that freedom though? Would that really make me feel free? And actually if we had that, would we be able to live in it? Would we be able to handle it or would it feel overwhelming? Too much to handle, too fragile? We could lose all of the above in an instant as ultimately we can’t control everything, always. Too much choice is overwhelming and underlying freedom is a sense of vulnerability, not only towards ourselves and our choices but towards others.
How free we feel can have a huge affect on our well-being. Freedom is brought about by knowing that we are loved, and intense feelings of love can bring on fear of not only losing people but also freedom. But what if we felt truly loved, what if we could feel free from all the things, thoughts, feelings and fear which actually tie us down? Real freedom from our thoughts, a freedom where we can acknowledge all of this in our lives but not have it tie us down. Where vulnerability doesn’t mean fear.
Since I started writing this I’ve been learning about freedom in very practical ways. Not only through friendships but through my continued journey of healing. As a person who holds dear to their faith, as a follower of Jesus, freedom should be one thing that I have down, right?! Well as I journey more and more, in my faith and life, I’ve realised that freedom seems to be a continual practice as I keep needing it in more and more areas. One is within friendships and relationships and letting myself be truly loved and known by people, learning to live in the paradox of living in complete vulnerability with someone, whilst feeling the utter joy of being loved and known so deeply. This is freedom. This is a painful freedom, but freedom was always bought at a price and was always painful. It’s just whether we choose to do the hard and painful things to get to the beauty.
Being vulnerable is the only way to freedom, yet courage holds vulnerabilities hand. As Brene Brown would say, “vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage”.
The Latin root of courage is cor, which means heart. Originally meaning “to speak ones mind with all of ones heart”. No knights in shining armour or soldiers ready for battle. Instead people learning to love, to say “no”, to say “yes”, to say “I can’t cope”, “I’ll do better tomorrow”. Learning to apologise, to accept situations, doing something new, receiving from someone, trusting someone, choosing love over fear, stopping to rest, or asking for help.
Vulnerability leads to courage which leads to freedom, and although we partly work for freedom, we also let it happen to us as we keep surrendering to those parts of our story we just cant let go of. Our stories are larger than anything we can ever imagine, yet more fragile than anything we’ll ever know. So hold it tightly, yet lightly. Hold it firmly, but carefully and let the paradox of freedom through surrender open your story.