By Sarah Nyhan
One of the biggest changes in my life over the past almost three years is that I now experience the freedom to be wrong. Like the prodigal. Or the prodigal’s brother. Or like when Peter grossly abandoned and denied Jesus – his great friend, his God – in the darkest hour. Afterwards Jesus pursued Peter and made him some fish tacos. 😉 Not the other way around.
Peter was given the freedom to be wrong. Abraham was given the freedom to be wrong. But here is the point – did their choices serve them and theirs well? Do my choices serve me and mine well?
Yes, I can be wrong and assured that I am loved exactly the same. Yes, I can be wrong and God will not abandon me. But will my choices even get me where I ultimately want to be?
Forget rules. Rules are somewhat of a base level of operating to me now. Rules are for when I’m not experienced enough to understand and comprehend the consequences of my actions.
For example, a baby or a toddler needs rules because they don’t have the context to understand how vulnerable and powerful they are in the world. That yes, mom and dad are always watching out for them now – but that is not always the environment outside and away from their parents. So you give your toddler a rule to never touch the stove because sometimes it could be hot and there may not always be someone there to pull them away from the stove in the nick of time.
You don’t tell your toddler not to touch the stove because of your ego – or hopefully not. Some people are like that. Some people make rules just to have control and power over others. But as they are properly designed, rules are a protector and a teacher. Not an end unto themselves.
This is TOTALLY new thinking for me. Overwhelming at first. Like when a kid graduates and goes out into the world for the first time all on their own. The freedom to make every decision they want.
Yes, I can do everything and anything I want to do. Technically. But what am I here for? What am I doing on this beautiful planet spinning out here in space? What is the point? How do I place myself in the middle of all the people I have the privilege of doing life with? If rules are the only thing keeping me from hurting myself and others then I have way bigger fish to fry than debating theological nuances.
Or maybe not. Maybe I do need to go back to square one. Because my view of who God is and how God sees me and others is at least the unconscious basis for how I treat myself and how I treat others.
Am I faithful to my spouse just because of rules? That’s ok, but that is base thinking for the immature (without any negative connotation or condemnation). I think eventually the idea is that I graduate from base rule-thinking to understanding how important I am in this world and to the people I have relationships with.
There will never be another person who can be me to the people I do life with. My spouse may be able to find a different spouse who treats them better, but they chose me first – and no one can ever again fill that first role that I filled. No one can ever be my child’s biological parent again. Or first adopted parent again. No one can ever be my brother’s oldest fully biological sister again. Or fill in the blank.
No one can ever replace me in the places I am in people’s lives. My mark on this world, myself, and others cannot be erased. Yes, they will encounter other people, other people who will love them better that I have tried to love them. But that will not erase the impact my presence, absence, and choices has on them.
And not only that. But this minute, this hour, this day is not a rehearsal. I will not get to do it over again. I can do differently, but I cannot do over.
So is this the life I want? Am I being true to even myself? If all else goes away, am I even the person I want to be? Do my choices reflect that? Am I unhappy because I don’t live up to my own values and don’t even respect myself?
Rules paint me into a corner. But higher thinking gives me my life back. With all its freedoms and responsibilities. I am no longer a child. I can no longer blame God, religion, or rules for checking out and disconnecting from my heart, mind, and spirit. Those I do life with will only buy that for so long. God will always love me and others may also. But that doesn’t mean people will always tolerate my choices.
Perfect love drives out fear. Today is a new day. I can’t do over, but I can do differently. I may not be able to repair what is broken, but I can at least stop being destructive. I can make different choices.
As I experience God’s love, I can accept myself and life as is and move forward accordingly. I can grieve without feeling despondent or hopeless. The sun rises again. This moment is a blank canvas.
God knows who I am. He meets me right here, right now. He is always for me, always for us. Satisfied with nothing less than our complete healing. Until all that is not of love’s kind has been replaced with all the good that is freely ours to experience all the time.