I’ve been writing this blog post in my head for a while now… ever since I wrote two weeks ago about the mystery of the three keys. It’s always hard to know where to begin when something has been working on you for a few months. What was the starting point? And did I understand it correctly? Can I even find words to explain?
The idea of being free has been a theme for me this summer. I wrote about it back in May when my Fitbit caught me having a panic attack and told me to breathe. I wrote about it again in July in a blog post called “Change always happens.” And then there were those three keys that all suddenly appeared.
Maybe the place to start is with my very first experience doing yoga. Back in early June, I rode with a friend to an art studio in a little town about 30 minutes from here. I sat in the back seat of her convertible with the wind whipping through my hair on a perfect summer evening. I had never done yoga before. But even if I had, this class was special because the instructor incorporates scripture and prayer into what she calls “Holy Yoga.”
We did an art class first. That was the easy part. Then it was time to get down on the mat.
Just like my Fitbit kept instructing me to breathe, she did too. But her prompting was obviously much more personal than that of the computerized tracking device on my wrist.
Open your hands, she told us.
Breathe in through your nose.
Exhale, letting out more than you let in.
I tried to comply. But I was afraid. I knew that if I truly allowed myself to breathe out and release all that I was holding so tightly I might burst wide open. My friends might have to pick me up, shattered on the floor.
The past year had been a hard season, and that is when I realized how much I kept bottled inside. So much emotion from the stress of visiting colleges, and working through finances and trying to make the right choices for our family. So much anxiety from a church merger and starting a new job and then working through the hard decision to walk away from doing something that meant so much to me. So much uncertainty as I faced the future and knew I had to be patient to wait for what is next.
I’ve always thought of myself as being pretty vulnerable and honest. I prefer deep meaningful conversations over chitchat. I like to be real and open. But during the months of June and July, I realized what a thick, tall wall I had erected to protect myself.
In early July, I was sitting in church when my emotions finally erupted. I started crying, and I couldn’t stop. It was that time in the service when the person up front asks everyone to turn and say “hello” to someone you haven’t met before. I have been the person on stage asking people to do this more times than I can count. I knew this moment could make people uncomfortable, so I tried to use it sparingly. Still, I didn’t expect it to be this hard to be on the other side of the request.
There I was. I couldn’t stop the tears. My face was wet and streaked with traces of black from my mascara. “You know what?” I said to myself. “I’m just going to say “hello” to these strangers around me just as I am. I don’t even care anymore.”
It was a little taste for me of what freedom feels like. It was a culmination of a series of experiences from the past few months:
It’s showing emotion without worrying what anyone will think of you.
It’s having a brutally honest and hard conversation without being concerned about what it might cost you.
It’s hugging someone full on without caring that you might invade her space.
It’s letting go of your kids when it’s time for them to leave.
It’s breathing out and letting go of more than you breathed in.
It’s opening your hands and releasing all that you’ve been holding so tightly.
A few weeks ago, I read this in my devotional:
“Brave people are willing to let go of everything as they hold tight to God, even when things start to change.”
It felt like a riddle. I understood each of the words individually. I could grasp the concept of the phrases. But I didn’t truly comprehend what it meant.
I thought that what she saw in me was brokenness. But I realized later that sometimes you have to break open in order to be free. The wall around you has to shatter.
I’ve always thought of freedom as being released from something. That’s what the keys symbolized for me.
What I’ve experienced is that I have to let go of things in order to find my own freedom. As I open my hands, I release my fears. I release my worry about how people see me, my anxiety about the future, my grip on my kids, my desire to perfectly orchestrate my job and my life…
As I let go of things, I am the one who is free.
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