formation friday: free-er

blog formation friday freeer

“they suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. and when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. we’re free of it! all of us! nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. and so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” – 2 corinthians 3:16-18, the message

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i hope you all have had a good holiday   for some who struggle with christmas, i know there’s sometimes a sense of relief.  when some hanging-on-by-a-thread-through-the-holidays-friends left our house on tuesday night after christmas dinner, we high-fived and celebrated “you did it! you made it through christmas without completely tanking, yes!” amen. hallelujah. yeah, it was a rough one for many and a smooth one for many others. with all the christmas festivities over with i’m grateful for a little break where i can hang out with my kids & watch a lot of movies & unplug. i also like to use this time in between christmas & new years to look back at the past year and think about the one ahead. i gave up new years resolutions a long time ago because they always make me feel bad about myself after i break them less than a week later.  but i do like to recall where i’ve been and dream for the year i’m about to enter.

i’ve always liked considering things through the template of Jesus’ first greatest commandment–loving God, others, ourselves.  my #1 hope each year for the past chunk of years is that somehow i’d be free-er than the year before.

free-er in my relationship with God, with others, with myself.  they are all tangled up together, those three categories, and each one greatly influences the other.

i never want to be the same at the end of a year when it comes to my relationship with God, with others, with myself.

i want to be free-er than the year before in my faith.

free-er than the year before when it comes to my relationships & friendships & the ways-i-love-others.

free-er  than the year before when it comes to how i feel about myself.

that doesn’t mean there aren’t setbacks & pitfalls & all kinds of things that didn’t go the way i had hoped in these areas.  life is so not linear.  i’m still working on stuff in my life that i have been working on for an awful long time.  and that’s okay.  we all have thorns in our sides, patterns of relating & living & being that help remind us of our humanness, our weakness, our need for God.

but what becoming free-er does mean is that i’m intentionally moving away from things that hinder & shackle & trap & paralyze & rob & steal & are toxic and forward toward more presence & life & love & justice & peace & mercy & grace.  one small baby step at a time.  one beautiful weird hard day at a time.  one month at a time. one year at a time.

that’s the question (well three questions) to consider on this last formation friday of 2012:

  • how have we become more free in our relationship with God this year?
  • how have we become more free in our relationship with others?
  • how have we become more free in our relationship with ourselves?

i’ll go because it’s always so good for me to celebrate any bit of freedom i possibly can.

for me, 2012 was a year of focusing less on what i didn’t believe anymore and more on what i still did. oh, that brought a lot of freedom.  i feel less afraid of the long list of things i’ve lost when it comes to faith & much more secure in the few most important things that still remain.

when it comes to my relationship with others in 2012, the #1 thing i have been working on is continuing to break free from being responsible for things that aren’t mine to be responsible for. as an adult child of an alcoholic and a pretty masterful codependent, that is not an easy task, but this year things felt far different than the one before.  i more intentionally practiced taking my controlling paws off of thing i couldn’t control anyway and let others make their own choices. the world kept spinning & i was far less tired.

in my relationship with myself, well, let’s just say i have been nicer to me.  less harsh. less critical.  more apt to laugh at my flaws.  more willing to accept my limitations.  more clear about my humanness & need for God’s help.  i didn’t spend too much time in the flogging machine in 2012, and that feels like a gift from above.  seriously.

i hope you can look back and see shifts in these 3 areas in 2012 and how you’ve become free-er in your relationship with God, with others, with yourself–no matter how big or small.  they are uniquely ours, worth celebrating and remembering!

here’s to greater and greater freedom in the new year ahead.  love, kathy

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ps:  in some previous years i have done all kinds of different end of year exercises. if you want to try some of them, here they are (they have templates inside of them):

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

15 Comments

  • Hi Kathy,

    I enjoyed reading your post as with most of your posts. I like in the UK. I have no idea what “tanking” is. Perhaps a dialect local to the US? Care to enlighten me? I hear and embrace the quote you made form 2 Cor 3:16-18. And I think one of the thigs you folks form the states have to offer the rest of the world is this belief that “anything is possible”. I have visited the states a number of times. This is something that is tangeable in your culture in whatever part of the states I have visited – 9 states so far. I have a saying that if we can combine the optimism of the states with the feet on the groundness and not getting above yourselfness of the West of Scotland we are on to a good thing. And this while hearing what you say about freedom is where I would add a caveat and a cautionary note. In what is described as “The believer’s freedom” in the NIV, we see “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor 10:22-24. Freedom to do anythign is no freedom at all (consider the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s for example). If we become brighter and more beautiful, more Christ like, we will be less concerned about personal freedom and right and more about being released fomr the confines of sin to serve and do good for others will we not? Preparing mydelf now for a backlash fomr my American cousins for what I have said about freedom! Be nice folks, we are on the same side *smile*.

    Reply
    • Hi Adam, hope you don’t mind if I jump in on your interesting post.

      The 1980’s American usage of the word “tanking” is this-
      v.intr.
      Slang- To suffer a sudden decline or failure. Used here to describe everything from the stock market to emotional health.

      as metaphor, it probably comes from the use of “Dunk Tanks” at carnivals and other events; where a person of some note sits on a collapsing board above a tank of water, while folks throw balls at a target that will trigger the person to fall into the tank.

      And as an American, I am very delighted to read your keen observations about cultural differences of the perception of freedom. I take that kind of open ended freedom for granted, the challenge is always what is best to do with it. And I agree that freedom in Christ is not the same thing as willy-nilly freedom (to borrow a phrase from your side of the Atlantic). The downside of American freedom is the number of different ways we can miss the mark- everything from new age magical thinking to literalistic hard line magical thinking, to “prosperity gospel” feel-good wealth extraction schemes.
      I love that Kathy set the context for freedom by starting with the greatest commandment- within that it is much better, always trusting that God will guide us toward freedom in Christ. Trusting that with the Holy Spirit, and the love of community, we can increase the freedom he offers us in his love for us.

      Reply
      • “….always trusting that God will guide us toward freedom in Christ. Trusting that with the Holy Spirit, and the love of community, we can increase the freedom he offers us in his love for us.” Beautiful! Thanks Sage….

        Reply
    • thanks, adam, i always appreciate your perspective so thanks for sharing. i am with you. freedom doesn’t mean anything goes. to me, it means becoming more and more transformed into God’s image. unfortunately, for a lot of christians, they have not been taught freedom but the law & so they live in insecurity & low self-worth & unlovability. it is very sad to me. most of the people i know when they become more free in their relationship with God & others & themselves, seem to become more loving & strong people, with better boundaries & on a firmer foundation, not anything-goes-ers.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your reply, compliment and clarification on what your intention has been with what you have said abuot freedom. We are agreed then that freedom in this sense is freedom “in Christ” so that there is not need for “the Law” as such because it will be wretten on our hearts to do what is within God’s boundaries with Christ as the cornestone, the foundation. Stronger must mean from strength in Christ (not from being “strong” and “independant” in worldy ways) I trust would be your intention. I hear what you say about “insecurity, low self worth and unlovability”. I’ve known many people like that – a lot of them leaders trajically. And I would confess to be one like that until faily recently when I came to your site and found I was not the only one who thought as I do. Thank you for that! I can indeed breath now. And am indeed free in the way you have intended, healing and having been healed from wounds by being burned in the church. Praise the Lord!

        Reply
  • Kathy, love reading your happy & insightful words. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions for one simple reason–I’m not self disciplined enough to see them through. However, I still love to see growth and progress in my life, my sweetheart life (being married to Marty) and with the family. I have chosen to celebrate this in a new way that I think you’ll like. I do 2 things. 1) I write down 12 changes that I would like to see in my life. I keep them close to me like in a purse or iphone. I review them often to keep them in the forefront of my mind. These can be to build a better life spiritually or temporarily: emotionally/physically/financially etc. 2) I choose just one idea or concept to pray over for the whole year. For example gratitude. Many people listed what they were grateful for each day in November. I will take one word or concept like: peace, joy, hope etc. Then l will ponder over that in different ways in my own sweet time. Sometimes its just driving down the road or keeping quotes that I come across that fits into that line of thought. Often it comes via prayer and scripture study. I’ve noticed a difference in my life when I have done this and it has always increased me somehow spiritually/temporarily throughout the year. I’m glad you are my cousin. You are always a ray of sunshine. Did your mother instill that in you or were you just born with it???

    Reply
    • that’s awesome & such a great practice. my word for 2012 was focus and even though i laugh at it a little because it wasnt quite as “focused” as i had hoped, in so many ways, just like you said, keeping it in front of me made a difference. i am glad we can connect out here from across the miles. love from colorado.

      Reply
  • Kathy, I went back and read the old posts linked here such as “rewind, please”. Do you know how thankful I am that you decided to continue this little carnival thing at the end of 2009? There were more stories to be told indeed (my favorite section of that post ). I wouldn’t have met you through this blog and beyond …. You’re a treasure …

    Reply
  • Thanks so much Kathy! I like the word so much ‘Free’er’ It’s been quite a year …God’s
    working on my heart big time : ) Here are some of my 2012 lessons…

    Free-er with God …
    …my faith is growing
    …I’m turning more over to God
    …learning that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’
    …trusting God is in control of all

    Free-er with Others…
    …letting go of some old relationships and welcoming some new ones
    … rekindling relationships with some lovely people from the past
    …being more respectful
    …facing some fears

    Free-er with Self
    …trusting myself more
    …learning to say no
    …saying yes because I really want to
    …letting go of old wounds

    Also, this year I am free-er in knowing that the bottom line for God is all about love and how we give and help each other. During the election this year I saw so much meanness and black & white thinking. It really got to me. When I pulled away from all the voices giving their opinions I was able to hear God say ‘enough is enough’. I realized there are no political parties in God’s world. Only His desire for us to find peace, reconciliation, love, cooperation, justice, and to help each other by sharing and giving.

    Reply
    • what beautiful things! thank you for sharing. love hearing these, such a reminder of God’s continual work in our lives. yes to God leading us toward peace, reconciliation, love, cooperation, justice and helping each other by sharing & giving, too. here’s to a new even free-er year.

      Reply
  • Yay for freedom! My first thought in response to this was that I have made strides in how mean I am to myself, too, and how I have given myself a lot more grace. Aaaand it was closely followed by a snide, “yeah, but it could have been a lot better, eh?” Soooo it looks like 2013 will have more intended focus in that area. Ha.
    In my relationship with others, I have taken my grubby paws off of of the top of my receiving tank, and was more free to be *vulnerable* enough to actually feel more loved. I realized this year, that for so many years, I have not let my heart feel fully accessible. I feel the difference in deeper security. 🙂
    My hope for 2013 is a lot more freedom in relationship to my faith, and hopefully a new thing emerging. That more re-building and less angst will be present. Yeah, that.

    PS one of the ads that found its way on your site is a link that says “Stars Who Don’t Think They’re Hot”. Oh irony, you slay me.

    Reply
    • that made me laugh, our instincts. the minute we think something good, so often it’s followed by that mean little voice reminding us we’re not. here’s to taking grubby paws off receiving and letting in love and to even greater security & freedom in 2013. xo

      Reply

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