“We were not created to live drab, narrow, or constricted lives, but to live in the wide-open spaces. We find confinement unbearable, simply because we were created in the image of God, and we have within us an unquenchable need for the absolute and the infinite.” - Interior Freedom, Rev. Jacques Philippe.
I have always been told that I (very stubbornly) rely on myself too much. When it comes to challenges in my life, I don’t really like letting people in, asking them for help, or having to depend too much on others. Maybe it is partially because I don’t want to bother people, or burden them with my problems. Or that I’m just incredibly obstinate and don’t want to admit that I can’t do things alone... But the main reason I am this way is because I love feeling independent and free.
I love the feeling of freedom. Of feeling in control of my life, like I am capable of taking care of myself; of handling anything. In moments when I am actually succeeding at this, I feel on top of the world. Like I am truly Myself. And what’s more this feeling doesn’t “run out” or ever get totally fulfilled. My desire for freedom is constant, in a wild, forceful way.
I am quite aware that this is not a revolutionary or original statement, however. Every human on earth desires freedom. It’s undeniable. It is wired into the very fiber of our being. It is a cause that millions have fought and died for. Though freedom is considered a basic, ethical norm (at least by most civilized people), it is also something that all people seek and desire, because it is so key to our happiness as individuals and societies.
Of course there are many different types of freedom, especially when it comes to the desire for freedom that inspired the birth of our county: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, bearing of arms, equal justice, private property, etc. With these “protected” freedoms we have the chance to live a full life- one where we can strive to reach our greatest potential. Yes, these freedoms could be taken away from us, and in the world today there is a lot of conflict regarding certain freedoms our forefathers fought so valiantly to provide for us. But that could (and probably will be) its own entirely different post. Today I would like to talk about a freedom that no one can take away or limit: our interior freedom.
What is interior freedom, you might ask? I think that the quote at the beginning of this blog post explains the concept beautifully (Please take a second to go back up to reread it). Interior Freedom is the wide-open space within us that is the result of an unrestrained heart.
An unrestrained heart.
Humor me and ponder the idea of it for a moment.
A wide-open space within us... Doesn’t sound so joyful? Almost magical in a way?
An unrestrained heart…who wouldn’t want that?
It is so beautiful.
But how do we achieve that? St. Faustina wrote in her diary that, “Love is a mystery that transforms everything it touches into beautiful things that are pleasing to God. The love of God sets the soul free.” If our hearts are lacking in love, they are restricted and therefore less free. Philippe also eloquently states in his book that, “If we loved more, love would give our lives infinite dimensions, and we would no longer feel so hemmed in.”
Of course, there are situations in life in which our capacity to experience any freedom is greatly restricted, whether in a physical, mental, or emotional way. But if we are able to maintain interior freedom, we not only experience (and are made capable of) greater love, but we will find that our lives are much more satisfying as a whole. And with this love, comes peace and hope. Philippe writes, “True freedom, the sovereign liberty of Christians, resides in the possibility of believing, hoping, and loving in all circumstances, thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weakness.”
With the tools of faith, hope, and love, freedom and happiness are not only attainable, they are bound to occur in our lives. But we can’t grow in these areas alone. We have to ask others for help, seek advice from trustworthy sources, and above all- have faith that the Holy Spirit will give us the grace necessary to conquer our weakness. I said earlier that interior freedom was something that no one could take away from us, but that isn’t technically true. In this case, we are our own worst enemies. By falling into sin we lose our freedom and rob ourselves of one of the things we desire most, thereby crippling ourselves.
Did you notice how in that last paragraph I totally called myself out for not wanting to be open with people and share my struggles with them? This is one of the ways I fail to allow myself to be free. It’s something that I think will let me Feel free, without actually letting me experience true freedom. Though it’s something that I will probably have to work on for a long time, my hope is that this will be food for thought for anyone else out there who struggles in the same way.
Now before you all go off to try to gain interior freedom All by yourself, here’s one last quote to reflect on (if you can’t tell, I Love quotes):
“True freedom is not so much something man wins for himself; it is a free gift from God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, received in the measure in which we place ourselves in a relationship of loving dependence on our Creator and Savior.” –Interior Freedom, Rev. Jacques Philippe
Till next time,