What It Really Means to Be Free


There’s a theory that throughout history, the greatest of civilizations have risen and fallen, cycling through the same pattern along the way:

From bondage to spiritual faith,
From spiritual faith to great courage,
From courage to liberty,
From liberty to abundance,
From abundance to selfishness,
From selfishness to complacency,
From complacency to apathy,
From apathy to dependency,
From dependency back again to bondage.

As Americans, we have gotten so used to living in a “free” country that we often take it for granted. I would argue that many of us have become complacent, and we are on the verge of apathy. It’s only a matter of time before we fall back into slavery, and the saddest part is, most of us don’t even realize it’s happening. Which is probably why it’s happening in the first place.

Last weekend, Jereme and I took Indie to her first Panthers game. We were so excited to get her dressed up in her Panthers gear. I wore her in my sling and bore the heat as we hauled our way through the crowds to the front of the stadium and got in line. As soon as we got there, we were turned away because the diaper bag we were carrying was “too big,” according to the standards set forth in the NFL’s Stadium Bag Policy. (Worth a read if you haven’t been to a game in a while. Trust me, I learned the hard way…)

Jereme & Indie at the Carolina Panthers game

I was livid. My husband has always been more into public protest than I am, and I always thought that if we ever found ourselves in a situation like this, I’d be the one telling him to calm down. But I found myself being very vocal about how stupid I thought the policy was, right alongside him. Angrily, we marched back to our car and transferred our diapers, wipes and burp cloths into a clear bag that was deemed acceptable.

We weren’t the only people who disagreed with the policy. Since the incident, we’ve heard stories of women who took the light rail to the stadium, didn’t have a car nearby and were told by security to trash their Louis Vuitton bags if they wanted to get inside.

I honestly never thought I’d see the day when a woman with a baby would be turned away from a football game because her diaper bag was not as easily searchable as a 4″x5″ wristlet or a clear plastic bag. (Funny thing is, they were hardly checking the clear bags at all, so if someone wanted to they could have easily rolled a weapon up into a t-shirt and smuggled it in.)

But alas … this is the world we are living in. America. Home of the not-so-brave. And as a result, land of the not-so-free-anymore…

Freedom is not free. It always comes at a price. (Click to Tweet.)

For most of us, that price is security. The security of knowing that when we go to a football game, no one will try to blow up the venue or shoot half the stadium. The security of feeling like we are safe.

But the reality is, the protection and safety we seek are nothing more than illusions.

We accept these policies as common policies that are instituted for the safety of the common folk. And every year, the policies are refined, just a little bit more. Last year, the bag size was a little bigger than it is now. I’m interested to see how the policy will change again next year.

I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy of the frog in a pot of water. If you drop him in after the water is boiling, he will jump right back out. But if you put him in while the water’s still cool and then gradually increase the temperature over a long period of time, he will get used to it and eventually be boiled to death before he even realizes what’s happening.

I believe that’s what’s occurring in our society when it comes to our material freedoms. And it’s a scary thing. So scary, in fact, that most of us would rather remain ignorant than acknowledge what’s going on. And who can blame us for that? We’re living in some pretty crazy times…

Thankfully, material freedoms don’t really matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Spiritual freedom is what matters, and my God paid the ultimate price for that when he sent his only Son to die for me. It’s incredibly humbling to realize that the creator of the universe would die for little ‘ol me, especially since I did nothing to deserve it. Quite the opposite, actually. I’ve done just about everything deserving of hell, and yet he gives me heaven.

He paid the ultimate price.

Why, then, do we continue to fight? We are already free. Despite the fact that I was livid over not being able to get into the stadium last weekend, after some thinking, I was able to let it go, because I know that I am already free. This world can try to take away my material freedom all it wants. It can throw me in jail for professing my belief in God. It can deny me access to a football game. But it can never take the freedom that Jesus already bought and paid for.

By the same token, acquiescing to ridiculous policies in the name of safety and security is just as fruitless as fighting for gun rights. My safety and security don’t lie in this world.

To be free is to be fearless. I look at my husband every day and I see freedom in the face of someone who’s not afraid of anything. I look into the eyes of innocent children and I see freedom in the face of little people who are not afraid of anything. They don’t know fear until we tell them that there’s anything to be afraid of. And succumbing to ridiculous policies for the sake of our safety is basically furthering that message.

To be free is to not care about the safeties and securities that this world has to offer. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about your loved ones or what happens to them. It means you care more about investing in their eternal future than in their immediate future. It also means realizing that safety and security are illusory in this world. It means ignoring ignorance and opening your eyes to the reality of what’s happening — being aware of it, but not fearing it — because you know where your eternal freedom lies.

What does freedom mean to you? Are you willing to sacrifice yours for the illusion of safety?


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