“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” ~ Herbert Agar
I used to suffer over the question, “What is it to live free?”, primarily because for most of my life I certainly was not. From early on I was bound up in brokenness, first by the deep damage and shame I experienced through sexual abuse as a child, then in later years through the abuse I visited upon myself, colluding with shame to keep my true soul sealed away in a prison of fear and pretense. I lived in those days a kind of projection of life, but not life itself.
Thanks to God’s presence and work in my life, I have over the years learned the answer to the question ~ that to live free is to live in full alignment and integrity with your Truest Self, where “Self” is that pure and sacred expression of the fullness of all you were created to be.
In this process I’ve also discovered that the freedom to do anything you want is not freedom at all. While it may look like freedom at the outset, the end state of such a path is always anarchy and chaos, like a body with no bones. Just as the bones of a skeleton limit the shapes my body may take, they also give it form and identity, and power to move the world.
So a man is truly free to the extent he is able to live in accordance with his truest and highest identity. And he is enslaved to the degree and in the specific ways he is unable to do this.
- So the man addicted to porn is not free.
- So is the woman who hides her true voice for fear what others may think of it.
- Or the woman who flaunts her beauty but secretly wallows in envy and self-loathing.
- Or the man who uses his strength to impress or intimidate because he is afraid he is not enough.
All such falsity is bondage.
But is freedom then transparency ~ that is, to live in full vulnerability, bravely baring your soul to all, without any filters or secrets you hold back?
To be “raw” and vulnerable is becoming more and more esteemed in our culture as brave, but I have found that such transparency is only valuable if it’s in service of a soul’s trajectory toward becoming truer to that highest expression of who and what it is meant to be.
There are those who feed off of the attention and shock their vulnerability produces. This is not freedom at all, but simply another kind of bondage, and for all its purported honesty is itself a pretense. The one who practices it has more in common with an exhibitionist who exposes himself to strangers for the rush it brings him than with the true soul who confesses his darkness in service of becoming more whole.
So the thing is not to blather on about the Shadow’s hold on your life, but rather to pay quiet and exquisite attention to any restriction that holds you back from living true to the highest vision of who God created you to be, and with the scalpel of the Holy Spirit guiding your hand, to skillfully and compassionately cut it out, and to boldly fill the space it frees with the fullness of who you really are.
That kind of vulnerability is brave indeed.