Any existence deprived of freedom is a kind of death.– Gen. Michel Aoun
Imagine how protesters and rallyists say it, and right about now that’s how I’m saying this word. Perhaps because, for the first time in a very long time, freedom became very real to me, as though I can taste it in my mouth, touch it with my hands, sleep with it. When was the last time you really felt free, released from chains, unconstrained, spontaneous? I could fill this space with a hundred more synonyms and I would still grope for the right words to express just how free I feel right now. But I guess the closest word to describing how I feel is guiltless.
Yesterday, I finally submitted an overdue report for work that got lost in transition. I’ve been sick the past month and have been unable to prioritize finishing this one report. Because it was left hanging for 2 months after I resigned, I felt held back and constrained in doing many things. At the back of my mind there’s always this voice telling me, “you still have that report to submit.” I was, in a way, held captive by that obligation. There were many times I could have sat down and worked on it, but then I was always somewhere doing something, and then I got sick somewhere doing something. While I have already resigned from work, I was never wholly free. I couldn’t fully commit to “now”, to this moment, until yesterday when I had the chance to visit my old office and finally get it off my chest.
It was such a representation of things that hold us back from living in the moment. Like if you had a debt (and I sure have lots of them), you’re not able to fully enjoy the things you want to do because you’d feel guilty about spending while you know you still have some debts to settle. You’re enslaved, as the Bible would say, to whoever you owe money to. Not a good picture, I tell you. The feeling of being ‘enslaved’ or ‘beholden’ to something or someone because you have no other choice, except of course to settle your obligations.
If not debts, then fears. We have lots of fears. Fear of being left behind, fear of making a mistake, fear of letting go and moving on. So many fears that hinder us from living in the moment, from enjoying the present, from “being alive”. Instead of making decisions that propel us forward, we hold back, we stay stuck just where we are now, we cease to move, because we fear what’s out there.
I try not to leave many things hanging and I know I haven’t been so good at it. God knows how many tasks I didn’t finish in the past —things I just literally run away from. Beyond unmet goals and objectives, ruined relationships are the real losses. Mending things sometimes come easy. Mending relationships don’t. These aren’t exactly memories I’d like to be written about me some day and if I could return to those times, I’d do things differently. When my friend Liselle was contemplating on whether she should continue with her Masters in UP or not, I told her to at least “try finishing what you started.” Her context was different from mine, but from where I was coming from, that was the only advice I could give. God himself is a perfect example. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He doesn’t leave things hanging; He has a plan to execute things as He had planned them. One of the verses I like is found in Hebrews 12:2 which says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
You know what I learned yesterday? After we have settled our overdue obligations —assignments we left hanging, responsibilities we overlooked, debts we left unpaid, the feeling is more than relief. It’s satisfaction. A deep sense of satisfaction. Contentment. Achievement. Joy. Indulgence.
Yes, indulgence! I can now fully indulge in the present; I can now fully indulge in TODAY! I can indulge in hours of reading, in much experimental cooking in the kitchen, in many solitary walks in the park, in guiltless “moderate” shopping, in many sorely-missed catching up with friends. Above all, I can indulge in God’s presence and enjoy Him, read His word, meditate, write my heart out. Why it took me so long to come to this state, I can only wonder why. But I am here, now, fully free, released from chains, ready to seize the moment, ready to conquer!
This is the kind of FREEDOM I want to enjoy!