Freedom

Getting Gutted or Gaining Freedom: The Gadget You Must Give Up

Some days, walking by faith isn’t so challenging. Other days, such as today, choosing to walk by faith is harder than trying to keep 20 preschoolers holding on to the rope on a field trip.

That rope is there for a great purpose, beyond keeping teachers somewhat sane. It simplifies what could be utter chaos. Kids are insatiably curious, distracted, easily lost, and in need of careful guidance.

The rope helps manage the otherwise unmanageable. It keeps the kids in line—moving when distracted, safe from wandering, and connected with others.

Beyond that, most young kids follow directions, because they are in a stage of learning to trust. In other words, if the teacher says this rope will keep them safe—and, developmentally, safety is of key importance to them—they’re most likely going to keep a hand on the rope.

The rope assures them of safety and community. It shows them that it’s best to walk together. The rope is a good thing—for that time in their lives.

Before we can learn interdependence, we have to learn safe dependency.

Stage One: The Ropes Course

Whether or not you’ve ever clung to a rope on a field trip, your life has likely been full of “ropes.” “Ropes”—literal and otherwise—are tools that teach us to listen and follow directions. When we hang on to a “rope,” we’re rewarded for good behavior. As we mature, that external behavior is internalized.

In other words, ideally, through the process provided by “ropes,” we learn how to manage life and no longer need whatever “rope” we’ve been holding on to.

We’re capable of functioning with order, security, and common sense without the rope. We achieve the massive developmental goal of internalizing healthy beliefs and behaviors.

The “ropes” are now in us and are self-directed. We no longer need to receive orders from someone else to know and do what’s best for us.

Most of the time, kids who struggle with self-management/living-life-responsibly have had poor developmental structures or have endured complex trauma.

They haven’t internalized healthy beliefs and behaviors.

Stage Two: Letting Go

To be honest, I love “ropes.” (Or at least the ones fashioned on my own terms—I like choosing what I will trust and obey when it fits my comfort areas.

I resist taking responsibility when I’m pushed into areas of discomfort or the unknown.) “Ropes” allow me the illusion of control, the belief that my plans will succeed. With them, I have no fear of disappointment.

I am not held accountable for my choices. I have a false assurance that all things will go as planned and, if not, I can blame the rope!

Remember those preschoolers on the field trip? That rope can keep them safe . . . There’s only one requirement: hold the rope. The rope itself isn’t special or powerful.

Children
Image from Unsplash

All it takes for disaster to happen is for one kid to let go. Yet, the children most likely believe the rope provides security.

Let me get really specific. As humans, we long for security and certainty, acceptance and comfort. These desires require “ropes” at first, external behaviors that become internalized habits.

The “ropes” should lead to the cultivation of wisdom and problem-solving skills. However, if that doesn’t happen, we end up depending upon those things we’ve BELIEVED provide security . . .

  • A full bank account
  • Competence and capability
  • Good looks
  • A job people admire
  • Sexy cars
  • Big houses in expensive neighborhoods
  • Kids that make us as parents “look good”
  • Intelligence

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m called to release all my dependencies—all my “ropes”—believing with confident assurance that Christ will keep His promises and I’ll be in His care.

Come what may, He’s got my back.

Jesus having my back is great, but releasing my dependencies? That doesn’t sit well for a control freak like me who is overly self-reliant! I prefer “ropes,” because when things don’t go my way, I have someone or something to blame. (Blame and control go hand in hand).

Often, God allows things to happen that reveal where my security really lies—where I’m clinging to my “ropes” instead of Him. For example, here’s a snapshot of life in my house from July and August, just two months:

  • Our air conditioner broke.
  • Our dishwasher broke.
  • Our dog had to have an extensive emergency surgery.
  • Our cars were in the shop.
  • Jon, my son with disabilities, offended several families.
  • Jon fractured his back in a car accident and now requires 24-hour care.
  • My husband had shoulder surgery.
  • My husband broke several ribs.
  • I had ear surgery.
  • I broke down in front of my coworkers.
  • A new project at work was way beyond my skill set (aka: raw incompetency).
  • Several supports we depend upon for Jon’s care were removed.

Stress brings to the surface the “ropes” we use to keep us feeling safe. Let’s just say, I could have made a five-mile zip line with the length of rope our two months of circumstances revealed!

My neighbor, whom I often text on hard days, dropped by this morning. We’re involved in a project for our sons with disabilities.

A huge vision, countless leads, sleepless nights planning . . . yet meetings, committees, promising ideas, and many prayers have yielded little to nothing (that I can see right now) regarding this project.

She patiently listened to my frustration. Because I believe in living a life of authenticity, I asked for the truth. I asked this safe, loving, and honest friend if my anger and frustration were due to feeling out of control.

She said yes in the gentlest way. She’s the real deal, and I trust her response. I was longing for control, and God wasn’t letting me have it. Instead, He was calling me to trust Him completely.

He wants you to trust Him completely too.

Stage Three: Gripping the Promise

Holding on
Image from Unsplash

Maybe it’s time to examine what you’re clinging to and why. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4 that we are fragile, broken jars of clay. Life will crush us. We will suffer greatly. Our fragile bodies will hurt.

But Paul also says it’s through our cracks and brokenness that God’s light shines. We are promised renewal every day as we endure.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! (2 Corinthians 4:16–17)

The only way to endure is to let go of our “ropes” and place our confident trust in what we cannot see: Jesus Christ. Such faith requires us to grow up in grace and truth—interdependence to the core.

I chose today to be renewed through the honest feedback of a friend, acknowledging my reliance on “ropes” rather than on God who is working all things out for a greater good—just as He’s doing in your life.

Let Me Hear from You

Whatever you are facing today, will you please examine where you are placing your trust?

  • Are you bound up, threadbare, and angered that your attempts to control life haven’t worked?
  • Are you willing to walk by faith?

God is waiting for you to release your grip on this world, its “ropes,” and your expectations. Cling to His truth and His promises alone. I KNOW, it’s not easy.

But it’s RIGHT and FREEING! Anything else will leave you gutted.

What rope can you release today for a more confident, fulfilled life moving forward? Let’s keep choosing to cling to Jesus together.

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