Sometimes when you’re five-and-a-half, nighttime can be a scary thing. This is what I’ve been informed of by the little boy living in my house recently. At all times of the night. No less than four times between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 AM.
Yep. We’ve been a bit sleepy lately.
The intervention was looming, and I gave it a whirl after Tanner and I were awakened by a crash in our room one night. Bolting out of bed, I discovered a sheepish-faced little boy peeking over a pile of throw pillows on the floor of my room. He was attempting to build a pillow fort in our room where he could sleep so he didn’t have to be alone in his own room. In the process of doing this in the dark, he accidentally knocked over the box fan we use for white noise.
This was the third time I’d been up with him that particular night, reassuring him, praying with him, snuggling with him, and who knows what else I said because I was half asleep each time.
I had tried everything I could think of to find that balance of meeting his needs in his fragile state without enabling him. Side note: Finding this balance as a mother exhausts and confuses me often.
The next day when we were both more awake and he had the daylight to diminish some of his fears, I tried talking to him once again. What was the real why in this scenario we’ve been living lately? Because none of us were winning.
The best answer I could gather from his unsure responses was that fear was taking over, taunting his thoughts, tricking his eyes and ears.
And then I knew just what he was feeling because I’ve fought those same battles, and some days, I still am.
I reached my first breaking point a year ago when I started out on an intentional quest for personal freedom. No matter how many “right” answers I told myself, I knew that I wasn’t actually living freely. I was scared of what others thought, I was crippled by what-ifs, I was fighting the temptation to give in to bitterness, and I was ignorant about how to live the free life Christians are supposed to be living. (I’m not talking about being stupid here. I was ignorant as in unaware.)
Freedom slowly began making itself known to me one month, one prayer, and scripture at a time. One of the things that took me by surprise as my transformation began taking shape was that fear does not fully disappear when you start choosing to live freely.
One day, I allowed myself to entertain a possibility I would have been to afraid to admit before.
Perhaps living in freedom requires a balanced fear.
One of the things that freedom is is realizing that, at any moment, something devastating could happen, but instead of being crippled by that possibility, you choose to live anyway. Going out into the world and doing something worthwhile with your days comes with risks, but those risks make life worth living.
Choosing to follow God when it’s impossible to know where the path will lead is choosing the free life. You’re choosing to acknowledge that the fear of God is more powerful than the fear of the known or even the unknown. So is it possible to truly, intentionally live a life of freedom without possessing fear? I don’t believe so. I believe that it’s actually a requirement. The trick is that I don’t let the fear possess me.
I began living more freely when I gave up on living fearlessly. Living fearlessly is to live ignorantly. Ignorance is bliss until you can’t ignore the facts anymore. Eventually you have to look the circumstances that scare you square in the face and say, “I may be afraid, but I’m not going to let you rule my life.”
Living freely is to know there is much to fear, but God is bigger. He is enough.
Choosing to live the free life is always worth it, but it’s a task that requires living intentionally focused on believing in the hope of God’s Truth rather than the lies of the enemy. It is hard work, and you will never arrive in some magical Freedom Land, worry-free, forever and ever as long as you’re on this earth. You can still live a free life, but it will be a work in progress until you reach eternity.
There will still be those noises your five-year-old self will hear in the night, but choosing freedom means that they won’t be a daily struggle. They will occur with less frequency, and one day you’ll realize that they used to dictate everything you did or didn’t do, and now they only do on occasion.
Freedom is something that is happening with me now, and it is a happening that I plan to take with me for the rest of my life. I couldn’t not choose it as my one little word for 2015.
I plan to read, write, listen to, and ponder many freedom stories this year because they inspire me to keep living, hoping, and embracing. Freedom is hard, far from free, and worth every tear it takes to taste it.
P.S. Dash is getting better at sleeping through the night, and he’s doing a fantastic job of recognizing when the enemy is putting a lie in his head so he can then choose which path he wants to take. I for one consider it a success for both of us on our freedom journey.