True Freedom

On this Sunday as we celebrate the independence of our country, we share insights (from Fr. Brian’s Pentecost Praise & Prayer event homily) into the type of healing the Lord longs to provide in order that we experience “true” freedom…a freedom from certain things that weigh or slow us down, not allowing us to experience the joy that comes from living the good life of true happiness…one where we are free for what the Lord is calling us to.

What does it mean to be healed from something? Often, it points to the restoration of the invisible and the hidden and the secret. In life we tend to manage our exterior image so well–making our exterior look ‘all healed up’– that we neglect the interior image, where much of our pain and suffering is carried (even unknowingly). These pains and sufferings are most often what we need relief and healing from.

Loss — The pain of loss is a deeply rooted suffering because it was the very first pain of the human heart — when man lost God in the garden. The pain of loss is what we experience when we are separated from a truly good thing. The greater the value or depth of a thing’s goodness, the greater the pain when it is lost/when we are separated from it. In particular, the human loss of loved ones (mortally, emotionally, proximally, etc.) over the last year–who are indeed the greatest good besides God himself–whether due to or in the midst of Covid, have prevented many of us from even mourning the various losses. Jesus wants to heal the breach created by our losses and separations.

Fear — The pain of fear is what we may experience regarding the uncertain or the altogether unknown. It can often arise from the lack of foresight (I don’t know if or when the uncertainty will end) or from the lack of integrity (I don’t know if I/it/they/we/you/the situation/all-the-things/etc. will remain whole or can stay in one piece) or from lack of support (I don’t know if I am alone or if anyone will protect me) or from lack of power (I don’t know if I can change it/fix it/resolve it). Jesus wants to heal the uncertainty in our hearts– how often did he say, ‘do not be afraid!–by inviting us to surrender to his sovereignty, his capacity and desire to make all things work for the good of those who love him.

Sadness — The pain of sadness is what we experience as the result of the pain of loss. They are so closely associated that sometimes they are interchanged. But loss is like the puncture or wound in the earth out of which naturally arises and flows the spring water of sadness. Sadness can flow slowly or quickly and if acute and powerful enough can even shape and widen the size of the puncture/ loss. So if we are sad, we are dealing with the outflows of loss, and while sometimes we have a shovel big enough to cover over our losses with earth and stem the flow of sadness, at other times we just can’t tend to all the various punctures spread over the soil of our hearts, or else the punctures are so large that our shovels are insufficient to plug them. Jesus comes to supernaturally dry the wells of sadness in order to tend to the pain of loss more easily.

Confusion — The pain of confusion is what we experience when we don’t understand what a thing is (lacking knowledge of the mind) or why it is (lacking knowledge of the heart). “What” confusions will tend to reveal that knowledge is missing, like shining a light into an empty closet and wondering what goes there. “Why” confusions will tend to reveal that knowledge is conflicting, like shining a light into a closet that should be filled with clothes and finding it filled with garbage. Typically, we’re more troubled in life by the confusion of “why” — I don’t understand how this could possibly happen/I don’t get why they are like that/shouldn’t it be obvious this should be different, etc. But Jesus is the peacemaker who brings order and clarity out of our confusion and chaos.

Anger — The pain of anger is what we experience when we perceive moral fault. It arises out of true or apparent injustices (when it either happens or seems that some person or situation was not rendered what was due) or when our desires place a real or apparent obligation on another person or God which has been left unfulfilled (e.g. God, you could have stopped this from happening, and why didn’t you?). Experiencing anger is healthy when it tells us something true that needs to be made right. But choosing anger is a consuming influence that slowly poisons us to death. Jesus comes to help us release our hold on the anger living in our hearts, which in truth we do not control but which rather holds our hearts hostage.

Weariness — The pain of weariness is what we experience when we struggle to attain the resources necessary for achieving the good we seek. Call it empty tank syndrome. If in life we continually feel like we’re out of fuel, we’re either pumping a dry well or we need a bigger nozzle. We may also need to be convicted that Jesus promises abundance: “He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” So healing from weariness is the surrender of our toils to the abundance of Jesus who makes a way forward for us out of his store of wisdom, whether by removing our toils, or changing out our fuel well, or increasing the inflow of grace to supply for our needs.

Loss of Will — The pain of loss of will is what we experience when we give up hope over some portion or the whole of our lives. Sometimes in life the single or cumulative effect of pain, loss, addiction, circumstance, relationship, confusion, anger, weariness, sadness, fear, etc. is so significant or long-lasting, so complicated or unsolvable, so broken and torn, that we just kind of quietly give up and surrender to it instead of surrendering it to God. We don’t know how anymore, and we’ve tried everything (we’ve even tried giving it to God and it didn’t work!). As Christians we may have broken portions of our hearts from which brokenness we believe God cannot/will not deliver us. Only my death will be my deliverer. But Jesus comes as Lord to console and heal these places of deepest darkness.

So, back to freedom…As we allow the Lord to free us of from these areas of pain or lessen them or give us the graces to handle them with his help, THIS IN TURN, gives us a new freedom: the freedom for who and what the Lord is calling us. Our interior life made better, well, or completely healed, we are more free to turn outwardly to see to whom or what it is the Lord is calling us. With freedom from the distraction of pain (or unforgiveness or attachments or unrepentance), our eyes and ears, our very hearts, become freely attracted to how the Lord longs to have us join forces with him, sharing the true freedom we’ve found with others along the way! Let’s pray to the Lord today for this true and lasting freedom!

Fr. Brian