IT WAS A DARK NIGHT, both literally and figuratively. I sat on the front porch of the chapel at the boarding school where I was employed, wrestling through an existential crisis. It had been a long semester; I was beginning to reach burn out and I knew it. I was angry and afraid. Afraid of failing my friends, and more so afraid of what people would think of me for burning out.
A FRIEND OF MINE was in town and was walking around campus when he stumbled upon my moment of dismay. He took a seat and he listened as I spilt my heart out. Then he did two wonderful things…
One, he affirmed my hard work and acknowledge everything that he had seen me doing for my staff and students. And then, he spoke lovingly to me about my pride. his words continue to echo in my mind constantly.
“You must become so free of ‘you’ that you become free of everyone else.”
Those words still punch me square in the conviction! You might be confused by its meaning, so let me break it down.
C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of oneself, but thinking of one’s self less.”
IN MY PRIDE, I think constantly about who I am, how I’m perceived, whether I’m accepted and loved, etc. In my pride, I become obsessed with the perspective and opinions of others and thus become enslaved to their opinions and approval. Until I reach humility and become free of myself, I will never be free of others.
Yesterday I faced fear and took a leap into freedom. I laid down my pride and exposed my deepest darkest secret to all the people who are most likely to judge me, gossip about me, or condemn me. Which they did, though not to my face haha.
But in my act of public confession, I found freedom from myself and thus, by extension, freedom from all those that previously caused me anxiety and fear. Some asked if I was concerned about potential employers seeing what I wrote and the answer is no. Because now I am also free from the anxiety of being attacked, condemned, or fired by someone who would be so cruel as to be against me for an internal experience. I am free because I now have nothing to hide. It’s on the table and anyone who would hire me will hire me with that knowledge!
I AM responsible for myself and myself alone, as they are responsible for them. And in being responsible for myself, I thus choose the crawl deep down into the crevasses of my soul, take my inner demons by the collar and bring them screaming and writhing into the light where they no longer have power and cannot fester and grow.
I am free to love God better and to love His creation for fully because I am now able to love myself more fully.
May you also one day find yourself so free of yourself that you are free of everyone else; to live and love in God’s marvellous light.