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Your Independence Day: 3 Priceless Freedoms We Too Quickly Sacrifice
Are you free? Really free? Do you decide how you spend your time? Do you have freedom?
Think about your last 24 hours. Did you spend it the way you would choose? Did you do the things you want to do? If you could choose how you would spend the next 24 hours, what would they look like?
Creating a life on our own terms is not an easy thing to do. We have demands coming at us from every direction. We are surrounded by other people’s expectations and needs. In many ways, we are not free!
We willingly sacrifice our own freedom every single day. Many times we aren’t even aware of it. We do it all by ourselves too. No one is forcing us. No one is twisting our arm. We just do it.
Here are 3 priceless freedoms that we are much too quickly willing to sacrifice!
Freedom from the past
We drag along the past almost as though we have no choice, carrying it in our hearts and in our minds. We are experts at burying past pain inside so deeply that it can’t possibly escape. It remains there forever and weighs us down year after year.
The past doesn’t exist anymore. You must let it go. No need to bring it along. All it does is weigh you down. You can find freedom from the past. It is more simple than you may think. Accept the past for whatever it was and live in the now.
The past is gone. It will never return. Those experiences, thoughts, feelings, etc. are all gone. Yes you may remember them, but you are remembering them now. You are sitting here today remembering a past event. Keep the emotions and feelings you have now present during the process of remembering. Don’t let the old pains and hurts creep in. You don’t have to live the situation again every time you remember it. When you can stay present to now, then it is easier to accept that past for what it was, process it, and move forward.
Don’t stay trapped by your past. Even good memories can bog you down. Don’t cling to memories that you want to freeze in time forever.
Letting go of even the happy past
When our boys were little, I heard other moms say: Don’t you just wish you could stop time and keep them little forever. Or I don’t ever want them to grow up. I heard grandmas saying: Oh, if I could just go back to when my kids were little. It was as if they were still trying to live in that past.
As a young mother, the thought of watching my boys grow up was overwhelming. I cherished their young years and innocence, and I couldn’t imagine sending our firstborn to kindergarten. That will be impossible. So I tried to enjoy the time I had with them as much as I possibly could. I stayed present to them. When I was with them, I tried to be all the way with them. Amazingly, as the time came for our oldest to go to kindergarten, it was okay. I was ready, and so was he. Yes I cried, but they were just as much happy tears as they were sad.
As each phase of life has come for them, we have embraced it. When they graduated from elementary school, when our oldest boarded a plane for France, when they went to high school, even when they started driving a car. Now our oldest is looking forward to college. What a huge step! WOW! Yes in a way time flies. But in a way it simply marches along, day by day.
In not clinging to their past years, I have had more of me to spend along the way. More of me to be present with them through their childhood. Spending time with them was spending me time.
Find your freedom from your past. Look at it and remember as you need and choose, but don’t live there. It doesn’t exist anymore.
Freedom from the future
Just like the past, the future doesn’t exist either. It is a figment of your imagination. Think about it. That future conversation you are dreading isn’t reality. You don’t know how it will happen or if it even will happen. But yet how much of your present energy are you willing to let it burn?
Maybe you are stressing over a medical bill that you know is coming your way. Well, it isn’t here now, so be present to now. Filling your mind and heart with worry now only makes you suffer now, as well as those around you. You don’t know what will happen between now and when that bill arrives. Don’t sacrifice your present energy for that future worry.
Let it go. It eats you up with worry and anxiety. Quit imagining things that don’t exist right now.
I told you that I refused to spend my boys’ childhood clinging to the past. Another way that I refused to spend my time with our boys was in worrying about the future. Many parents spend their energy worrying about their child’s future: their future mate, future job, future college, etc. That steals just as much energy from your present as clinging to the past.
The future will come when it is time. Let it. Trust it and relax.
I’m not saying you can’t make plans. If you want to make a plan for saving money for college, that’s great. But these plans are happening here and now. Do what you can now and don’t worry about the rest. You don’t know what the future holds.
What if now is all you get?
A sobering and yet amazingly freeing thought hit me one day. The thought raced through my mind, “What if these years with the boys in their childhood are the only years I get with them?” I don’t know whether they are or not. What if they don’t survive into adulthood, what if I don’t survive into their adulthood? Do I really want to spend this precious time with them wrapped up in a past that is already gone or in a future that doesn’t exist? Absolutely not!! This time I have with them now is my time with them.
There is no guarantee of the future. And honestly the future doesn’t matter. If I can’t be present to them now, I won’t ever be able to present to them. All I have is right now – but that is a most precious thing. In fact, it’s everything!
Freedom from a life you did not choose
Many people are living a life that they didn’t choose. We allow outside pressure as well as internal pressure guide our choices and actions.
Does this ring true with you? Are you doing what you want to do? Do you spend your time and energy in a way that is your choice?
At the beginning of the podcast, I asked you to think about your last 24 hours. Did you spend it the way you would choose, and did you do the things you want to do? If you could choose how you would spend the next 24 hours, what would they look like?
Who do you think is choosing your life for you?
You? Your parents? Your friends? Your boss? Your mate? Your church? Your beliefs of what you think the world wants of you?
Are you doing what you do because it is expected of you? Maybe even because you think it’s what is expected of you, whether it really is or not? Because you thought that’s what everyone wanted you to do? Are you doing it to make someone else happy?
We are limited by others at times in our life, but this is only part of the story. We are never more trapped than when we are limited by our own beliefs.
Our Limiting Beliefs
- A belief that the world is against you is a prison.
- A belief that you are worthless and no good imprisons your heart and suspends you in mediocrity.
- A belief that everyone else has what you should have gotten locks you into jealousy and envy.
- A belief that everyone is judging you freezes you with fear and anxiety.
- A belief that you must respond to everyone’s needs and help save the world leaves you exhausted and insecure.
- A belief that you must protect your image at all times and always look perfect by appearance and action leads to panic attacks.
- A belief that you must feel good all the time traps you into chasing after empty indulgences.
I’m not talking here about having the freedom to live a self-indulgent life, full of selfishness and empty pursuits. These are just as limiting, if not more so.
I’m talking about the freedom to live a life that comes from deep within, a life that leaves a legacy of your choosing.
You need to ask yourself – What drives you to get out of bed every morning? If you are doing it out of obligation or for the supposed happiness of other people, then getting out of bed each morning will begin to get more and more difficult.
You need to ask yourself – Where is your vibrant passion for life? Where is your appreciation for life’s spark? What makes you genuinely happy?
Nothing external can save you
Quit waiting on someone or some kind of luck or opportunity. You must find peace within.
You have to be the one to let go of these self-oppressing beliefs, as no one can do it for you.
I have heard many people say that they are their own worst critic, and I understand that, as I have been there too. It stinks. I want to be my own best ally, my own best friend. Maybe we think that if we become that then we are being too easy on ourselves and won’t push ourselves. But don’t you want your best friends to be the best they can be. Don’t you encourage them and support them. Why wouldn’t you do that to yourself?
Where have we learned to be so hard on ourselves? It just doesn’t make sense.
Don’t let anyone else choose your life for you. I think that is what Jesus meant in Scripture when He said – He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
He knew that you will not find happiness by living a life that someone else has chosen for you. Even people you love and care about. It’s okay. He is giving us permission to live our own lives. You can still love the your father and mother, son and daughter, but claim your own life. Make it yours and yours alone.
I am reading a fantastic book that I just purchased. Here are some thoughts from it.
“This is the ultimate misery – living a life that is not our own.”
“We relinquish our free will to a society of strangers that speaks not of liberty and courage but of conformity and caution. Our true self is subjugated and a pseudo self emerges, a mere reflection of a society that has lost its way. “They” start running our lives and soon we are not “us” anymore, just walking zombies filled with the commands of others’ preferences and expectations…..And then we see the worst of human behavior – a mass of people who do not speak up for themselves or others but rather do only what they are told.”
“Freedom requires responsibility to choose who we are above and beyond our immediate impulses, needs and social pressures, so that we can genuinely express the type of person we want to be, live the life we truly want to live, leave the legacy we desire.”
“The great demand is clear – We must be conscious and responsible for our beliefs and behaviors if we are ever to be free.”