I still see Mel Gibson yelling Freedom at the top of his lungs, blue paint on his face, in his we didn’t know you were crazy and a bigot days. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you haven’t seen Braveheart, and in many ways that’s probably okay.
The moment in the film is one where he’s motivating the troops to face a much larger, better equipped, and infinitely better trained army. And he calls them to action, to sustained and courageous action in the name of freedom.
It’s been a clarion cry since people were people who organized themselves, since people tried to be in charge of other people, since the draw of other people’s stuff tempted the first guy to go take it with force. Freedom.
And it’s clear from history AND from the silver screen that the call to freedom gets people going.
It gets people motivated.
It gets people marching.
It gets people chanting.
It gets people fighting.
The call for freedom in our shared world is loud, persistent, and the consequences for NOT claiming it are all too often real and brutal.
What I’d like to think about on this independence day in the U.S. is the calls for freedom in our inner worlds, which are so often more subtle and more easily dismissed in favor of more “practical” concerns:
- the cry for freedom that happens in your head as you drive into a job you can’t stand,
- the cry for freedom that happens in your head as you tough it out in a relationship that doesn’t nurture you in the slightest,
- the cry for freedom as you buy things you don’t need to feel better,
- the cry for freedom as you search around for something to believe in that feels like a home rather than a prolonged punishment,
- the cry for freedom as you hide pieces of yourself to fit in and please people.
Those are all real cries.
They’re not wearing blue face paint and riding a big stallion, but they will if you ignore them too long.
I used to ignore those cries, and I endured the loss of sleep, the anxiety, the gnawing hunger that came with that choice. I tried to move things around. How about this? How about a little graduate school? No, how about doing the same job in a totally different environment? No? I just kept plugging away in situations that were wrong because I was sure that the things that would make me feel free were not available to ME. Sure, someone else might be able to make that work, but not me. I didn’t even really think about it long enough to have an argument with myself very often. I mean, this was what being an adult was, right? You find something you’re decent at that will get you paid and you DO IT. How it makes you feel is just because it’s a job… “That’s why they call it work.”
I rode those feelings in to a job that was draining me of everything I had until I started to have heart palpitations, and until my doctor told me that there was absolutely no way I would ever get pregnant in that condition. I was 37. I believed I was running out of time – another idea that enslaved me.
I ignored the cries of freedom until I could literally physically not ignore them anymore.
I see people do it all of the time. You see we all have these ideas, ideas about what’s possible and what’s right and who we are. Some of those ideas help us feel free and some of them keep us in prison.
So I ask you on this day of independence in the U.S., are there cries for freedom that you are ignoring? Are there signals you’re getting that tell you something’s not right? How loud will you let them get before you listen?
Sometimes after turning a deaf ear for a long time, we don’t even know how to listen anymore. We don’t recognize the call. We don’t recognize the cry as one we can do anything about. It just turns into a sense of how things are wrong and will always be the way they are. It just turns into a sense of impossibility and stuckness. It turns into hopelessness and repetition, stress eating and drinking, suppressed emotions and weariness.
Freedom doesn’t feel like that. And sometimes it involves changing your circumstances, but before any of that happens, it involves finding those chains in your head and your heart so you can see them.
Sometimes all you need to do is see them beloveds because you hold the keys.
I’d love to help you find them.