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.