What is the true way to freedom? Everyone must decide for themselves but there are generally two paths that are taken. One does indeed lead to the life we were intended for. A life of freedom, purity, and joy at a deep level. The other is more like living in a hamster cage spinning on one of those wheels.
I’ll start with the second path because either we’re on it now or we’ve been on it at some point in our past. It’s the way of “Acting Out” which in the recovery world has to do with attempting to fulfill a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. It generally consists of excessive and obsessive entertainment, eating, exercise, or even religion that become a temporary escape.
It has the impact on the soul that a diet of only carbs has on your waistline. The hunger returns and the cycle is renewed.
The “Acting Out” way undermines relationships as well. We tend to have no patience for others and certainly no time to nurture deep relationships. We might also find ourselves rude, judgmental and habitually passive aggressive. There’s no real intentional distancing from others per se, but it’s simply the fruit of a life spent in paranoia and not peace. Our preoccupation with easing the pain of our existence undermines others attempts at getting behind our walls.
I like what Dr. Harry Schaumburg has to say about this way of life in his classic work, False Intimacy, “The Fall did not diminish our capacity for intimacy; it created a distortion and an agonizing disruption of intimacy. Each of us longs to break through the limitations of our existence into a blissful unending intimacy with others. Such a dream cannot, however, be fulfilled. So we desensitize our hunger and thirst for the pre-fallen state by preoccupying ourselves with career, family, food, sex, leisure, and other distractions. But no diversion can richly satisfy our souls. Inner emptiness, the result of original sin, lies just below the surface of the illusion we create in order to cope with life.”
Now there is another way. It is to “Set Out”. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that God does His most meaningful work when we “set out” on a journey to recover the soul and seek deeper, and more meaningful relationships. Remember, these are soul issues and soul issues demand that we set out on a journey.
You can read back over the lives of some of the people we admire in the Bible. Abraham, Jonah, David, Mephibosheth (journeyed back to the king’s table after being exiled), Paul, and Jesus himself. Journeys not trips, not little escapes to fantasy island but wild, dangerous, risky journeys. I take trips all the time. Trips to the grocery store when my wife needs a particular item for a meal she’s making. Or a trip to the school to deliver a forgotten lunch or iPad. There’s nothing particularly profound about those trips. But a journey is different.
There’s the unknown, mysterious, the uncertain. It’s also going to take time and a willingness to endure. To do it right also means you recruit a support team. Because with any great journey you’ll need help. Then there’s the possibility that things could go wrong, there’s the chance that you could relapse into old habits and get derailed altogether. But it’s a chance you’re willing to take because the alternative isn’t really living. You could say it’s just “trip’n out”, ok, so I’m probably too old to use that language! Still, stop trip’n and set out on a journey.
“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” -The Prodigal Son