Freedom is SOO on my mind right now! It’s not just July 4th, it’s literal freedom: the freedom to move, to reach, to bend, to walk, to stand. I had abdominal surgery in May, now I’m getting another surgery to restore my walking. I’m looking forward to having this behind me and getting back to the freedom of doing whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it, as I did just a few short years ago.
So freedom has been a big word for me lately. Maybe because of this, I’ve had other thoughts centered on freedom. I’ts come to me that the ultimate freedom is the freedom to be authentically who you are. That’s what personal and civic liberties are about: being able to express as the person you most truly are, as an individual. I know that there are constraints that come along with being in our particular society, and I’m in favor of most of them (things like wearing clothes and a certain level of hygiene!). But for the most part, our system of government allows for us to express pretty much just who we are or want to be.
Yet we don’t always do that. It’s an issue for both men and women, but I particularly hear it from women. Women are more socialized to please, to fit in, to take care, to simply be a certain way that doesn’t challenge or upset. Things have changed a lot since the feminist days of the 1970’s, but certain things remain. We’re not always encouraged to speak our truth or express in a way that feels authentic to who we are. And that’s never a good feeling.
Why is it that chafes against us so much? Because we are all expressions of God and God is the essence of freedom. When we do not allow ourselves to be free, we are resisting that force that is at the core of who we are, a mighty force that wears us out when we don’t allow it to chart it’s own course. I say “do not allow ourselves” because in our society we do have the right by law, we’re just not exercising it.
Now, why exactly, is it so important that we be authentic in who we are? Would the world really suffer if my particular little bit of genius went unexpressed? Actually, yes. I believe that God has expressed perfectly in and through each one of us in a very specific way. If we don’t add our colors to the great mosaic of the universe, it’s dimmed if even by just a tiny bit. So that’s one way in which the world might suffer.
The other way is that one of the reasons we are all here is to minister to each other, to teach, to heal, to uplift. We each have a message that is just what one person needs to hear right now. But we don’t always deliver it because we don’t believe that we have the authority to deliver it. What makes us so smart? How do we know the truth any more than anyone else?
There is a reason that the words “authority” and “authenticity” have the same root word. We are given our authority in the world through our authenticity. When we are speaking our truth, and, even more importantly, living it, living an authentic life, then we are living in the manner we’ve been given by God. When we are clear about this, then the message we have is not ours alone to be judged or not judged, on target or amiss. Our message is the message of God living through and as us. That’s some authority!
When we know we have that kind of back-up, we don’t worry about whether or not we should speak that word of comfort or wisdom to another in need. We extend ourselves outward into the world, right where we’re most needed! We get to be just exactly who we’ve always wanted to be. We get to bring the gift that we know has been hidden away, seeking release, for so many years. We get to feel our importance to the world we share with all others, and know that our lives matter because we can make a contribution. What a great way to live; what a great way to be free.
Love, Rev. Mary