This woman I know, she is dying. She has a disease that has rapidly taken much from her. She is exhausted and her muscles weaken with every passing day. She relies on her daughter for her meals, for help to sit and stand. She can’t pick up her young grandchildren. She moves like an elderly woman. A very elderly woman.
She’s only fifty-six.
She is bound to her bed nearly all day long. She lies in the prison of her bedroom, and yet she is free.
She is my mom.
Walking this path with her has been – and still is – excruciatingly painful. Seeing her hurt every waking moment, hearing her groan and gasp for air, is breaking my heart. The relentless cough that shakes every part of her screams that the disease is progressing.
But groans and gasps and coughing fits are not all I hear. I hear freedom’s song bubbling up from a heart that knows – really knows – what it means to be free. Not free from her pain, but free in her pain. It’s an entirely different kind of freedom. And it sings.
I believe Jesus doesn’t really become real to us until we discover His freedom in our pain. Freedom from what’s hurting us may end our pain for a season, but it can also keep us bound to ourselves. Bound in cages that have been unlocked, gates swung wide, by a Savior who longs for us to realize who He is and all that He has for us, if we would Just. Walk. Out. of the cage.
Freedom in the midst of our pain is what Jesus died to give to us. Hardship, pain, loss, grief – they are all a very real part of this life. If we spend our time, energy and prayers on how to get free from them instead of finding the freedom of Jesus in them, we live a life wasted. The joy of knowing Him, the joy of being in His presence – this is where true freedom lives. Freedom to laugh through the tears. Freedom to become, to grow our wings and to fly.
Freedom to not have to know why, because we know Who.
This song, freedom’s song, is one I’m still learning how to sing. I can write it and believe it. But to live it is hard. This season I’m in? Even harder. I feel like I’m living in a season of unfairness. A season when God is taking so much away. It all feels unfair. I have ached for freedom from my pain and God has said no.
So I have a choice. My mom has made hers. She has chosen to live her life for Him and His Glory – even if He doesn’t set her free from her disease this side of heaven. Her life sings of His love and His grace and His faithfulness in the now. She has found freedom in her pain. She has chosen it.
And I get to choose, too. Do I willingly embrace the cocoon, the grueling road to metamorphosis, knowing that it will bend me and mold me and change me in ways I can’t know now, for the chance to sing freedom’s song on the other side? Or do I shrink back and beg for freedom from it all?
I choose to be a freedom-seeker in my pain. Because freedom from our pain robs us of the chance to know His heart. It robs us of the joy of His Presence in our lives. And without Him, without His presence, there is no freedom.
May we choose to press into Jesus, to become freedom-seekers in every season. To step out of the cages that hold us down and refuse to ask for a pain-free life of self over a joy-filled life of purpose. May we submit to the cocoons and come out with brand new wings on the other side.
“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