I'll never forget the moment that I realized that my life was in my hands, and that such an arrangement was a bad thing. I don't think this realization was my doing. I don't think I fully comprehend everything that goes into it. I just know that I am naturally pre-disposed to deciding what's mine, taking it, and messing it all up. There were all these things to do. There were all these places to be. There were all these people to know. And I was going to do, be, and know as I saw fit. I'd just finished my Masters. I was moving on and moving up. I had all these challenges to meet, and I was going to meet them.
I was going to leverage my strengths. I was going to minimize my weaknesses. I was going to put myself out there. I was going to succeed wildly at everything I'd ever dreamed. Or was I? When I look at those dreams... career, relationships, money, satisfaction, prestige, respect... they are all so little. But they were what I was good at. They were what God made me to do... weren't they? The world was mine and I was free.
But really, I wasn't. I was free like an animal in a zoo. Wandering around the artificial environment created for me. Eating the morsels fed to me by people who also once had bigger dreams. Nice to look at from outside, but just as caged as ever. Just as unfulfilled as ever. Just as short of what I was created to be as ever. I had built myself a set of goals to accomplish, and bound myself to accomplishing them. I'd let my pride hijack reality. I'd built a cage around myself, all the while thinking I was building a home. I'd tied who I was to all these things, and through that, they became bondage. They separated me from Christ. I let my pride bind my identity to them. I became what I did, and when what I did lacked, I became "what I could do if I could just catch a break." No longer was I the person who would do what was necessary. Who could take my greatest strengths and match them with others' greatest needs. All I could see was the path I'd laid out before myself. The path to 'strength.' The path to 'success.'
Every maneuver I made that I thought expressed my freedom, my ability, was just one more bar in my self-imposed cage. And the further I got from breaking that cage open, the more I resented it and fell back on myself.
When all my strength was exhausted, I found something. The truth was that all my strength was nothing. That everything I took into my hands I broke. The truth was that I had captured myself. That I had told myself what was success and what wasn't. That I would never meet the standards I'd made, and that if I were pursuing them, I'd never find the standards I truly wanted. I acknowledged that I was weak, finally, in a state that would have been unrecognizable to the heavy majority of people who know me. And when I did, the world shifted. Weakness was freedom. Not strength. Accepting who I was and who I served was freedom. Not forging my own path through the world. Accepting that my best efforts at feeble success were what was holding me back from true peace... that was freedom. When I realize that I was made as I am, strengths, weaknesses, blemishes, impurities and all to serve a purpose, and that purpose was beyond anything I'd ever imagined, no matter where it took me... that was freedom. Knowing that I wasn't responsible for making the path, just following it... that was freedom.
In all this, am I free yet? No, not completely, not even close. But I know that in Christ is freedom. I know that truth sets free. I know that if nothing I do ever mimics worldly success again, that if I lose every shred of dignity before man, but through it all I'm dancing to my Creator's music... I know that I've finally uncovered who I was meant to be. I know that I am free.