Freedom or Lack Thereof

There’s this luxurious place I can go in the mornings before it’s terribly hot outside. It’s outdoors,  at the back side of my house. I go out the side door and sit in an aged picnic chair positioned right in the morning sunshine with a short brick wall in front of me for my feet to rest upon. It’s a small back yard, but it never seems quite so tiny because when my back is facing the house, I cast my eyes forward not on a wooden fence, but on a golf course. With nothing but an almost invisible cyclone fence between the brim of my backyard and the edge of the course, it seems I could get up, walk forward and never stop walking.

I’ve never known it these 21 years of living in this house, but facing the backyard “fence” is one of the most freeing places I can be while still confined by minimal suburban property lines. One of the best features of my morning perch is that I feel I can see everything, 20140612_100215but no one can see me. The chair is positioned just right so that one inside the house would have to purposefully peek out the windows or come into the backyard to discover my whereabouts. I’m alone and free, yet sitting with my home to my back and the golfers right in front of me. Somehow, though, I’m almost always free from distraction in this place.

I compare this place of beautiful solitude to last week’s experience. This blog is not meant to announce my life, but I have not written for two whole months, so I’ll dare to give a quick update. Without any particular reason beyond “why not?”, I was admitted to Kaiser Redwood City Hospital last week for five days worth of an ongoing EEG. I’m epileptic and they just wanted to see if they could discover anything more about my brain than they were able to see with more minor tests in the past. Really though, I am in good health overall. No freak-outs, please. 🙂

Last week’s experience included neither surgery, pain, nor anything else dramatic, but it did include a good amount of unanticipated discomfort. Confinement was something I had never experienced–at least not for five days straight. I had these huge windows to look out. I could see the mountains, the bay area fog, the sunshine and the tops of buildings from the 6th floor in the hospital tower. But I could not taste, smell or feel on my skin any of these lovely things…this brought along discomfort much faster than I even thought possible. Who knew that one could be so teased by looking at freedom, but not being able to feel, touch, taste or smell it? When I sit here in the backyard, I know that I cannot go walking out onto the golf course right in front of me, but I’m content being able to look at it, feel the beautiful weather, smell the occasional whiff of skunks walking by, breathe in the freshly blown breeze, and know that this is not confinement.

I learned something about myself last week: I really enjoy my comfort. This hit me pretty hard considering what bragging I’ve done in the past about the places I’d be willing to travel to, to live and the daunting tasks I’d be willing to undergo. Did I ever consider that these endeavors could bring about the sort of confinement, at times, that reduce my freedom and may haunt me in the same way the hospital room did?

For me, I know some truth, though, that keeps me going. Even when all my “deserved” freedom is taken away, I have freedom in Christ Jesus…and this freedom is entirely different than the kind one doesn’t get when confined in a hospital room, when their body is functioning properly, when they can’t speak their mind freely, or whatever the restriction may be.

This freedom exists outside of life as we know it on this earth-

2 Corinthians 4:16- So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

This freedom is given freely to all who have the Spirit of the Lord living within them-

2 Corinthians 3:17- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

This freedom is not a quick fix for the confinements and discomforts we experience. It’s given to us for this very purpose–testifying that God is merciful in many ways-

Galatians 5:13- For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

In my life, it appears that comfort, in more ways than one, equates to freedom. Confinement is the opposite of freedom and equates to discomfort. I must ask myself, though, how many more times in my life will I experience confinement is some way, shape or form. How many times will I be lacking in freedom? The second to last day in the hospital yielded one of the worst mornings. I had experienced insomnia all night (something I’d never known before) and my mind was really wrestling to stay sane. Mom left Sacramento at 5:30 am to make it to the hospital as early as possible. I just lost it while she held me; and in all my vulnerability and desperation to leave that place, she had some profound wisdom to offer:

“This probably won’t be the hardest thing you ever have to do, Emily”

She is right and I knew it. There is always going to be more confinement, more discomfort, and thus, less freedom.

What is it, in your life, that equates to freedom? Why do you feel you deserve it? What would you do without it?

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