“If it is not used well, freedom can lead us away from God, can make us lose the dignity with which He has clothed us.”
Over the last few months, I have been trying to avoid social media and television, finding less and less room in my day, and more importantly my head, to try and process what’s going on in the larger world around me. I couldn’t avoid Buffalo and Uvalde, nor should I have tried. But I did try. I changed the subject of conversation with my wife and coworkers. I refused to read any news. I just wanted to be free from the weight of it all. After all, aren’t I carrying enough responsibility? I’m embarrassed to admit that that was the unvocalized rationalization in my mind. My wife initiated a conversation with our older girls to explain what had happened. Sadly, news like that doesn’t surprise them anymore, but my 11-year-old asked, "Well, that could never happen to us right?" It’s difficult not to be able to make those types of promises to your children. Dropping the girls off at school the next day, I noticed a local policeman providing just that little bit of symbolic comfort to parents who were undoubtedly reconsidering the importance of that habitual "I love you" we say as they jump out of the car each morning.
As I drove off and noticed flags and symbols of the Memorial Day holiday, I couldn’t help but think about freedom, how we get it, what it gives us, and ultimately what it requires of us. All week and frankly longer, I have been desperate to be free from the weight of the world – free from the demands of my own situation and blissfully ignorant to the hungers and pains of the larger world. But as I thought about our women and men in the military, our first responders, and tragically now our teachers who increasingly find themselves on the literal front lines, I realized the paradox of freedom that I had been fighting for several weeks. The more free we seek to be, the greater the responsibility we have. The more we want to be heard, the more important it is that we are speaking with intentionality and speaking truth. The more we expect a choice, the more we must understand the weight and ramifications of our choices. The more we want life to the fullest, the more we must be ready to defend life to the fullest. As a leader and a disciple, do I expect the perks of freedom without any thought to its demands? As I ask the Lord for freedom from certain sins, am I willing to sacrifice whatever is holding me back from receiving His grace? As I consider my citizenship in the world and my country, how do I embrace my share of the culture we are creating? As we remember the sacrifice of the bravest among us today, we remember in their example, and in our identity as followers of Christ, that ultimate freedom is not simply a right, but an incredible responsibility.