Freedom

What I love best about my life today is the absolute freedom I feel. I can believe what I want. I can do what I want. I can wear what I want. I can say what I want. I can be who I want. I cannot emphasize how revolutionary this all is.

 

When you stop trying to shove yourself into a box, everything suddenly changes. When you allow yourself to ask questions, a whole new world opens up. I so often feel like I’m standing in the middle of a meadow in the spring, whirling in circles and looking up at the sky, the birds singing, the crickets chirping, and the wind blowing in my hair. Freedom.

Now sure, I have responsibilities. I have to work, raise a kid, communicate with my husband. But those are responsibilities I have chosen to take on because I want to, not because I feel like I’m supposed to or because someone tells me I have to.

No one is telling me what I can or cannot do. No one is watching my hemline to make sure it falls to my knee, or monitoring my language to make sure I don’t use words like “dang,” or keeping track of whether I spend time reading the Bible or go to church.

No one expects some sort of ideological conformity from me. No one is watching for heresies in my beliefs or expecting me to agree with them. There are no repercussions if I disagree, believe something different, vote for someone different. There is no expectation of ideological purity.

My friendships are not contingent on ideological or lifestyle agreement. My friends don’t care if I agree with them on science, politics, or religion. My friendships aren’t built upon ideological agreement or limited to those who share my views.

I love being able to explore, to try out new ideas, to look beyond the borders of my understanding. I have a thirst to learn, and not to learn so that I can back up my preconceived ideas, but to learn so that I can better understand the world around me.

The only check on these feelings of absolute freedom is my parents and the friends I grew up with. I know that they are watching. I know that they are judging. When I am around them, which is not all that often, I generally hide my “heretical” views in a box for the sake of maintaining harmony. But my identity is no longer bound up in all of them. As time goes on, the less and less I worry about what they think of me. The more water passes under the bridge, the less of a hold they have on me.

I think I’ve drunk too deeply of the waters of freedom to find the idea of going back into the box they built for me anything but repulsive. I’ve seen the world outside. I’ve seen what it’s like to be free to choose my own beliefs, wear what I like, and be who I want, and there is now no going back. Growing up, my parents talked about finding “freedom in Jesus,” but when I look at their beliefs, their community, their church, I see more rules and emphasis on conformity than freedom.

No matter how hard my life gets, or what twists and turns my life takes me on, I will always have this freedom – freedom to believe, freedom to do, freedom to be. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Now that I’ve found freedom and no one can take from me, the future look amazing.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Scott in Alabama

    Wow, I love this and can totally relate.

  • Anonymous

    Fresh as this morning's exquisite lakeside breeze with its hint of an early spring. May life find you ever flowering as now and fill your days with roses and bird's songs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "No matter how hard my life gets, or what twists and turns my life takes me on, I will always have this freedom – freedom to believe, freedom to do, freedom to be. I wouldn't give it up for anything. Now that I've found freedom and no one can take from me, the future look amazing."Amen. I'm curious, though. What would your response be to, say, cultural and/or liberal Christians, many of whom we can be sure are thinking, "She's thrown the baby out with the bathwater"? It might even make for an interesting and informative post of its own, assuming you haven't done something like that already.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Oh, I think liberal Christians have the same sense of freedom. I know I did when I counted myself one of them. The freedom comes not from not believing in God, but from not following any list of rules, any pastor, any book, and prescribed path, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Blessings to you. Lovely post.

  • Chatterbox

    I just wanted to say that can totally relate but that i must disagree with the comment that liberal christians feel that same sense of freedom. I was brought up evangelical, fairly fundamental but nothing like libbys experience. When i went to university at 18 i spent a lot of time re-evaluating my faith and became a VERY liberal christian and did experience a huge sense of freedom, and i changed hugely as a person. However, it wasnt till i totally 'saw the light' and realised christianity is a whole bunch of make believe (which happened at age 32) that i really truly felt fully, truly, free. The guilt, the pressure, the evey present 'cloud' of gloom was gone. The only way i can describe it is like "Free at last, free at last, thank almighty reason, i am free at last!". It is the most wonderful feeling, just like your pic above libby. I DO NOT get it when christians say the freedom in jesus thing – absolute crap – makes no sense whatsoever!!

  • Anonymous

    Rigid, controlling, dogmatic people who claim Christianity with their own added rules are who I have found to be stifling. My personal relationship with God and Jesus are not stifling. Beverly

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    @ Libby Anne,My question wasn't in any way meant to dispute that liberal/cultural Christians have a "sense of freedom". I firmly believe that they do have that sense(key). After all, no healthy-minded person is going to adhere to, and stay in, a philosophy that they feel is restricting or limiting. "The freedom comes not from not believing in God, but from not following any list of rules, any pastor, any book, and prescribed path, etc." ~ Libby AnnaOkay, sure; fair enough. But I have a hard time finding it mere coincidence that most if not all people I encounter who don't believe in God, *likewise*, don't follow lists of rules, or pastors, or prescribed paths of any sort. IOW, I think that the lack of believe in Divine beings and their respective Divinely-inspired, authorative manuscripts, at a minimum, lends itself to freedom from all of those things you mention. "Rigid, controlling, dogmatic people who claim Christianity with their own added rules are who I have found to be stifling. My personal relationship with God and Jesus are not stifling." ~ BeverlyYeah, I thought the same thing when I was a believer. Now, being on the other side, and thus, having been on both sides, I can say that I'm waaaaay less suffocated and/or restricted, now, compared to then, if at all. After all, just having a sense that there's nobody watching my every move and knowing my every thought, is like a breath of fresh air.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Oops!….meant "Libby Anne". Having a tough time. Stupid gremlins!

  • Meggie

    I am Christian but I agree with Chatterbox when she/he says " I DO NOT get it when christians say the freedom in jesus thing – absolute crap – makes no sense whatsoever!!"I am a very liberal Christian but I would say that lack of freedom is one of the basic elements of Christianity or any religion for that matter. I believe in God. I believe God wants me to live a certain way; peaceful, loving, kind, generous, compassionate, etc. My life is not completely free because I am following a set of guidelines given by somebody else. In accepting God, I made a choice to give up my freedom. I find peace in Jesus and love in Jesus but not freedom because he is calling the shots, not me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Wow. Refreshing to see some consistency between believer and beliefs. Thx for that.

  • Becky

    "I love being able to explore, to try out new ideas, to look beyond the borders of my understanding. I have a thirst to learn, and not to learn so that I can back up my preconceived ideas, but to learn so that I can better understand the world around me." I know I'm late on the conversation here, but I really like what you said here. I have to say that this kind of freedom, to explore new ideas without preconception is awesome, and yet something I still struggle with as well. I find I tend to hold on to the next amazing thing I discover just as tightly as I did with my old christian beliefs. But this journey is much better because I'm choosing it for myself. I'm happy to have come across your blog! Lot's to think about!

  • Caravelle

    @Becky : Keep looking, I'm sure as you discover more and more amazing things you'll come to find a balance between embracing new things and realizing something even better might be around the corner that will make you change your mind…In a way I envy you people who went through such large changes in your religious or political worldview. My views on those things have been substantially the same all my life, and while I regularly do encounter amazing and mind-expanding insights they tend to confirm the basic direction my beliefs go in rather than contradict it. So I'm left with this nagging worry that this might be because I'm close-minded and unable to really change my mind… in some way I actually wish I were wrong that way I might have some huge epiphany in the future and realize how wrong I was and will have a whole new perspective on things. Whereas if I'm right that will never happen -_- (and if it does it would mean I've gone from being more-or-less right to being massively wrong, and that's terrifying)

  • Another Halocene Human

    Finally leaving the RCC was an incredible feeling of freedom. I had lived my entire life with shackles on my mind. A circumcised (and circumscribed) heart. It felt so good to let that go.

  • Another Halocene Human

    Orwellian logic. "The yoke is easy and the burden light." Also, black is white, war is peace, propaganda is truth, etc.


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