Our Journey To Freedom

Our Journey To Freedom

Galatians 2:20 are very familiar words – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” –  As familiar as these words are I often feel like a stranger to the experience they describe. Why does something so liberating feel so elusive? In part I suppose it reflects the mystery that surrounds the forming and shaping of God’s image within us. I’m coming to see that a bigger part may be the ‘false selves’ I’ve inherited, created and grown comfortable with throughout my life. I wonder if I have imprisoned the best part of all I am in Christ behind layers of falseness, wounding, conformity, and even traditional religious practise?  And as much as I may like to think my spiritual journey remains somehow unaffected by the people and experiences who have shaped me, my life can too easily become a matter of playing the various roles that have been scripted for me – by my family, my traditions, my life experiences, my expectations of myself, the expectations of others, my church, my job and our culture – and playing them out pretty well in full costume and mask. Maybe the pathway forward in freeing the person of Christ within me will require me to name and confront the false selves I’ve grown so comfortable with over my lifetime?

I’ve been naming a few of my ‘false selves’ that are at least as familiar (and sometimes more familiar) to me than the ‘true self’ I am in Christ.

  • The pleaser who remains poised and calm on the outside regardless of the pain and chaos I feel on the inside
  • The overachiever who anchors my feelings of well-being to the fear of being exposed as a fraud and to the notion that I am loved the most when I perform

  • The passive victim who languishes alone in my struggles longing to be rescued by someone

  • The ‘responsible at all cost’ giver who gives and gives and gives – to the point of my own emotional exhaustion and spiritual bankruptcy. Rarely plays. Outwardly content but inside something is seething.

  • The emotionally detached stoic who has learned not to trust what I feel inside. So I detach my heart and keep my distance – even from those I love

  • The fearful child who has learned to protect myself from the uncertainty and rejection of life by finding and retreating to a cave of safety

Any of these look familiar? I thought so. And if not these, I’m sure there are others.

Maybe the pathway forward in freeing the person of Christ within us will require us to name and confront the false selves we’ve grown comfortable with over our lifetime? Maybe…

I’d like to share a prayer that has served me well in my journey to freedom. I’ve taken it from Sue Monk Kidd’s excellent book When The Heart Waits.

God. I don’t want to live falsely, in self-imposed prisons and fixed, comfortable patterns that confine my soul and diminish the truth in me. So much of me has gone underground. I want to let my soul out. I want to be free to risk what’s true, to be myself. Set free the daring in me - the willingness to go within, to see the self-lies. I’ll try to run away, but don’t let me. Don’t let me stifle myself with prudence that binds the creative revisioning of life and the journey toward wholeness.

I’m scared, God. Make me brave. Lead me into the enormous spaces of becoming. Help me cease the small, tedious work of maintaining and protecting so that I can break the masks that obscure your face shining in the night of my own soul. Help me to green my soul and risk becoming the person you created me to be.

Tomorrow I may regret these words, but tonight I speak them, for I know that you’re somewhere inside them, that you love me and won’t leave me alone in their echo (p. 55)

A little later in his letter to the Galatians Paul’s sounds a compelling call, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (5:1). The battle for our hearts is fierce. But our freedom is worth the fight!

Fighting for your hearts,

Gary Franklin

I am grateful to Sue Monk Kidd and her thoughtful book   When The Heat Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions and her chapter “ From False Self to True Self” which inspired this reflection.     GF