I’ve been chronicling for you here in these weekly letters the intentional journey toward healing I’ve been taking these last many months, culminating in the experience I shared last week of finding myself transformed into a wholly new sort of creature after so much intentional time spent in the presence of Jesus.
It was as though health and wholeness and freedom and joy burst onto the scene in a spontaneous new way.
I mentioned at the end of last week’s letter that I’ve been noticing, in the wake of this experience, the way healing frees us up for creativity and contribution. That’s been the overwhelming sense in this for me: There’s suddenly so much space for productive activity, ways of contributing to greater life and fullness in the world.
But do you know what else I’ve noticed here? That the identity and habits of woundedness go so deep.
I can’t tell you how many times since that spontaneous moment of health and transformation happened that I’ve found myself nursing old wounds. Ways of thinking about a situation move like wheels over well-oiled grooves. Postures drift toward a familiar frame. Even the running commentary that goes through my mind as I scroll through something as innocuous as Facebook so easily tracks along familiar strains of self-accusation and judgment.
I’m finding that slipping back into that familiar identity of woundedness is so much easier than learning how to live free.
The thing I’ve noticed about living free is that it’s exceedingly vulnerable. If I live in the freedom and joy Christ has offered to me, then I’m living out loud and without apology. Out loud? Without apology?
And it makes me realize how much of the wounded identity I’m used to living in is also, in a way, a means of control. If I’m vigilant about other people’s responses to me, looking for all the ways I might need to adjust my way of being so as to be loved and accepted instead of abused and rejected, then I’m looking to control the one factor I’m able to control — me — while also hopefully exerting some measure of control over the outcome.
This isn’t the good kind of control — it’s not the self-control we’re told in the Scriptures is a fruit of the Spirit. Rather, it’s a control rooted in fear and manipulation of myself and situations.
I don’t want to live that way.
But I also recognize that living in freedom is pretty frightening. It’s about giving up the work of perception management. It’s about living unapologetically. And choosing to live that way leaves us somewhat defenseless, wide open to whatever ridicule and rejection might come.
It’s only the complete and total acceptance and love I’ve experienced when I’m with Jesus that makes venturing into that open, defenseless posture possible. Knowing that love is always there, never changing and never leaving … well, it makes me brave.
Can you relate to this fear of freedom? How has it shown up for you, and how do you respond to it?