I don’t know if I’ve ever been fully free to do exactly what I wanted to do.
What I mean is: I’m always worried about the piercing eye of perception from others around me. I modify my voice to fit the crowd, change my opinions just enough, maintain the appropriate social standards, keep an invisible distance between who I really am and how I want others to perceive me.
A few days ago I texted a friend: “I thought I saw you, looks like your twin.”
She said, “Go up to her and tell her! Show her my picture!”
And I replied, “I can’t just do those things.”
But — why not?
When I was about eleven, I remember seeing a beautiful girl working in the mall at the food court every time I went. My dumb eleven year old soul could not stop staring at her. This happened for weeks.
Finally one day I got the teriyaki chicken, looked her straight in the eye, and said, “You look really, really nice today.”
She smiled, and that was that.
And right there: I walked away feeling free and giddy and alive. I didn’t care what happened from there, I just cared that I told her. It was a small stupid moment in the life of a child, but it felt like a world had opened.
I want to make excuses: She’ll think I’m a stalker, she’ll take it the wrong way, I’m naturally an introvert, I’d be interrupting her, that’s not what people do anymore.
I see hundreds of people every week who are not really free but enslaved by a blurry idea of conformity that is never questioned.
I can see it in their eyes: enslaved by beauty, prestige, their boss, their mother’s words from childhood, that bully in sixth grade, a violent relationship, the TV, the inner-loop of self-loathing. They are essentially hollowed out zombies, filled by other people’s visions for their lives.
But I recall a day when I didn’t make up a hundred excuses to be myself. I could leap in free fall out of my comfort zone, NOT because I cared about the results, but because the journey was worth it. To love, to fail, to act a fool: is part of what makes us human.
Sometimes, I quit using other people’s judgments as an excuse to diminish myself — and even when I fail, it turns out fine. Better than fine.
And you know: there are times I reached out and it saved someone’s life. A stranger about to spiral into the abyss; a poor man on his last dollar; a young child full of hate and frustration; a young girl discouraged and distraught — I just went to them without knowing and spoke in love. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. I sort of hated it. But it was awesome.
Jesus said: The truth will set you free. I take that to mean a lot of things, but at least a part of that is Jesus trying to free us from the slavery of the world’s eye. To really be free from popularity, status, achievement, moralism, opinion, gossip, reputation, and dancing on the stage of performance.
It’s Jesus saying, Be true to how I made you. You have permission to be you.
That requires a thousand little deaths to fear, to religion, to results.
It requires a repentance from a propped up self towards the true self found in Christ.
It requires us not only to be unafraid of failure, but to actually just fail. At some point we have to stop protecting ourselves from ourselves: because failure is okay, and it’s only success when you can keep going in spite of what happens.
I am free to do what God wants: because what He wants, I want, and He wants me to be the true me He has created us to be.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
— Galatians 5:1
Originally posted here on my Tumblr.
8 thoughts on “Freedom to Love, Fail, and Act A Fool”
What a process it is to receive that freedom!
Fear of failure has driven me out of many opportunities (so many ministry ones I almost weep). Good word. Instead of looking foolish for failing at something worthy I just look foolish like Peter in Dodgeball: “I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya, it feels phenomenal.”
That’s a pretty great quote.
I do think God’s grace covers us when we miss those opportunities; but yes, some of those chances don’t come back.
It is so easy to lose yourself in the court of public opinion. I feel like I see myself in the crowd sometimes. Once in a while I run towards that familiar face. Other times I just statutory in my expected space. I am learning to run to myself more these days
In psych they call that the “Looking Glass Self,” or a feedback loop. Everyone has it and certainly it can be useful sometimes, but it’s too exhausting to keep up. Thank God for God then.
My favorite part: “To love, to fail, to act a fool: is part of what makes us human.”
I found my way to that kind of freedom years ago. Two factors contributed to it: 1. I am quite lazy (too much work to keep up a fancy image) and 2. I am inordinately clutzy and unlucky (too many horrific furniture collapsings, wardrobe malfunctions, and disastrous public falls). By learning to laugh at myself instead of trying to prove myself, I’ve ended up with more honest friendships and a real relationship with God. Great post, thanks!