“I believe we can get so focused on doing, building, growing and reaching that we can distract ourselves from what is right before us–our own and other peoples’ real stories, unfolding in beautiful ways.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” –Luke 4:18-19
As we practice a life of downward mobility, we can’t ignore that Jesus came to set people free and rescue us from spiritual and emotional captivity despite our circumstances. Freedom has a wide range of facets. There is a freedom that comes from entering into the mysterious and powerful walk with Jesus. It also comes as we recognize the Spirit’s work in our lives.
At the same time, there is a consistent need for ongoing freedom as we grow as human beings–sons and daughters of God.
All of the practices we’ve been journeying together through so far on SheLoves: Down We Go each month–extending love, mercy and compassion, welcoming pain, honoring doubt, diffusing power, practicing equality, pursuing justice, and cultivating creativity–open the space for restoration and change in our own lives and in the lives of others. Since each of these practices are deeply rooted in relationship, it’s nearly impossible to not see lives somehow change. Each of these central aspects of downward living point directly to the big idea of a Jesus-infused life: freedom.
In the downward life, freedom comes from engaging God’s healing by shedding things that hinder and rob us of life, relationship and love. Most all of us hope to somehow experience greater freedom in our lives. In Christian living, our hope is that those around us experience greater freedom, too.
This is not a new thought. However, I believe we can get so focused on doing, building, growing and reaching that we can distract ourselves from what is right before us–our own and other peoples’ real stories, unfolding in beautiful ways.
Freedom looks different for everyone and cannot be measured by human eyes that tend to focus on words like “progress” and “behavior change.” Sometimes freedom and healing mean that nothing shifts on a circumstantial level, but our hearts, relationships and view of God and ourselves somehow do.
Years ago, when I first started my healing journey, freedom felt very elusive. It was a word people tossed around that I interpreted as meaning I would not feel pain, anger or anything negative, but would instead live in a state of God bliss, disconnected from the things of this world. I know that may sound like an exaggeration, but it was indeed a message passed on to me through my church experiences.
I believed I was falling short, because I was never “completely” free.
I wish I had some better models for downward living earlier on–honest, authentic people who helped me understand that freedom shows up in different shapes and forms and who embrace and honor any movement because God is always at work in our lives!
I keep learning the value of celebrating freedom–not only mine, but freedom for my friends, too. At The Refuge, my faith community, we have a culture of celebrating change and movement in all kinds of ways. We go all out for sobriety birthdays and big milestones, but we also try to celebrate small steps, too. We honor it when people say “No” when they are addicted to saying “Yes.”
We cheer people on when they take a risk they normally wouldn’t take. We do all kinds of fun exercises to celebrate change and remind ourselves–and each other–what we are learning along the way about God, ourselves, others. These are sacred spaces to remember God is changing us, slowly, surely, faithfully. We have also become really good at throwing parties for all kinds of fun reasons far beyond birthdays!
If someone were looking in at some of the things we celebrate they might say, “What’s the big deal about that?” I understand where they’re coming from, because as a culture we have become so addicted to the wow-factor and have developed a false sense of what is valuable in the kingdom of God.
As women of change, my hope for us is that we would take any opportunity we can to celebrate our own freedom–and the freedom of others.
That we would take time to remember. That we would say out loud, “Yeah, that is changing in me!” That we would honor the ways God is at work in our lives. And that we would be women who notice and celebrate and honor work in others’ lives too.
So, let’s start right here. How are you experiencing greater freedom in your life? Share it in the comments, no matter how big or small. I celebrate with you!
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, an eclectic faith community in North Denver dedicated to those on the margins of life and faith. She blogs regularly about life and faith at www.kathyescobar.com and recently released her book called, Down We Go–Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus in Action. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Jose, and five kids.