We—those of us reading this today—are some of the most free people in history. We can go more places, make more choices, and work toward more change than most people ever have. We can see more and try more and learn more than ever before.
So why do so many of us feel so trapped? Why are we settling for lives measured in units of busyness and defined by who has the most stuff?
Have you ever noticed that no one takes a vacation to their own packed-full garage? No one is planning a getaway to their storage unit.
No one ever wakes up and says, “Thank goodness I am free to buy more stuff I don’t need and to fill my every waking moment with meaningless activity. Hooray, I can spend this day seeing how I measure up to everybody else on Facebook, and never really making a difference in the world because I was too busy trying to meet some imagined standard of living for my own self.”
Wouldn’t you rather be free for something better?
I’m not saying that you should be free to do whatever you want to do, or that you should forget about boring responsibilities. What I am saying is that you are free to choose what you’re chasing after, and you are free to bring more meaning to the things you do.
You were made to be free and you were made to help others be free. Every one of us was made for freedom.
So what can you do about it?
You can start by claiming your freedom. Right now, today.
1. You are free to stop.
Yes, everybody else is doing it. Yes, everybody else has those new jeans/shoes/car/purse. Yes, everybody else is working late and sleeping none. Yes, everybody else is checking their phone before they check their gut. You don’t have to.
You can stop. You can think carefully about which choices you believe in, and which you don’t, and you can work toward living out what you believe.
Start by saying no to the status quo, and yes to what matters most to you.
2. You are free to notice.
You can pay attention, right where you are today. Notice what’s working and what isn’t. Notice how you feel. Notice what’s really driving you.
What are you running so hard to keep up with? What are you after? Are you stuck in people-pleasing, or comparing, or worrying there’s not enough for you, or operating out of fear?
What if you made more choices from a place of love or hope or creativity? What would that look like?
Start by noticing where you are and where you’re going.
3. You are free to listen.
You are free to listen to your heart, to listen to your body, to listen for the still, small voice inside you. You are free to listen to the voice of truth in others.
If your being is crying out for change, you can listen to see what that is all about. You can refuse to ignore calls for help.
Start by opening yourself up and being willing to hear.
4. You are free to show up.
You have questions. You have ideas. You have gifts. You care deeply about certain things. You have a perspective that nobody else has. You can bring all of that to your life and to your choices.
You are free to bring your whole self to the table, just as you were made. You can make choices that don’t look like the world around you. No one will revoke your grown-up person license if you decide to let go of status symbols and start chasing after a more purposeful life.
Start by being yourself.
5. You are free to remember why.
No one is free to do everything they want to do, and everyone has to do things they wish they didn’t. But you are free to find joy by remembering why you signed up and why you keep showing up.
Maybe security in one area gives you freedom in another. Maybe doing the things you have to do is a way of taking care of the people you love. Or maybe not—maybe it’s time to make changes.
Either way, you’re free to focus less on the what and more on the why.
6. You are free to rest.
Our bodies and our lives work best with a rhythm of doing and resting. Rest creates pockets for the imagination and space for listening.
But let’s be real: rest is hard. It takes a lot of work to keep our lives rolling. I have six kids at home with me, and I am not swimming in rest around here. What I have learned, though, is that rest doesn’t have to look like a cabin in the woods.
Rest can mean regularly turning off your phone, or taking five minutes (cough, one minute) for deep breathing each morning, or deciding which tasks will be enough for today and letting go of everything else. It’s less about spa-like conditions, and more about creating a rhythm of stopping and going, and you are free to do it.
Start small with a regular practice of unplugging, breathing deep, and letting go—for even a few minutes at a time.
7. You are free to move through your life with a sense of purpose.
No matter what details make up your day, you get to choose how to approach them. You choose what perspective you bring. You choose what story you tell yourself about your day and about your purpose.
What is your life about? You’re living this story. Make it a good one, a story about growth or service or overcoming—not a story of who has the shiniest toys.
Start by deciding what you’re going to be about, in this season.
You’re already free. Don’t spend your freedom on busyness and comparison. Don’t spend it buying more to try to be more. Make it matter. Stop, listen, rest. Decide what you’re about.