“Mummy, what does freedom mean?” asked my 4 year old last week.

We then had a good (long) conversation about being free. Free to do what we want. Free from people telling us what to do. Free from things that control us. She had many more questions, like can I wear what I want? Eat what I want? Do what I want?

That’s when the conversation went somewhere a bit deeper. After explaining that mostly mummy and daddy choose her food to make sure she keeps growing big and strong, I reassured her that she could mostly choose her own clothes. I then told her that soon we’d have to not leave the house. We wouldn’t be able to go to nursery, or church, or the park. Her response?

“Why aren’t we free?”

Wow. These questions have stayed with me all week. It’s tricky, isn’t it? Yet, I explained to her that we are still free. Even if we don’t go out of the house. We are free and we have freedom.

  1. Freedom of choice.
    Right now we have freedom to choose how we act as people in a society made up of the vulnerable and invulnerable. We can choose to use our freedom to gather in groups, go to work unnecessarily, travel on public transport for no reason, or spend time with friends in person. Or, we can choose to use our freedom to stay at home, play games, work from home, find ways to keep in touch with people. We can choose to use our freedom to stay at home and keep the vulnerable safe. We can choose to flatten the curve. We can choose to honour those who have no choice but to keep working in our hospitals, schools, police, energy services.

    We have freedom to choose.
  2. Freedom from fear.
    And secondly, regardless of current situation, we have freedom from fear. When he was alive and teaching on this earth, Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV) Right now, there is a lot of fear, anxiety and panic across the world. It has seeped into our homes and is the thief which Jesus refers to. This thief will steal, kill, and destroy hope. If we let it.

    We have freedom to choose. Freedom to chose hope. Freedom from fear. If we put our trust in Jesus, he will give us life in its fullness. If we put our trust in Jesus, he will give us true freedom. If we put our trust in Jesus, he will give us a hope and a peace which passes all understanding.

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4)

“To Bridget, just the way she is!”

Ah, the immortal line from the ever wonderful Bridget Jones, after Mark has spilled out his true feelings to the heroine. Bridget, flaws and all, is loved just the way she is.

Today a verse came up in my quiet time: A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14: 30). An interesting thought for me… 

I am so jealous of the peaceful nature so many of my Christian friends have. Why am I not like that? I wish I had their gentleness. I have even prayed to be more like them. I definitely see myself as a lower ranking Christian because of my slightly more abrupt nature. I don’t know why, though. It is something which has been continuously playing on my mind, like a track stuck on repeat.

On Friday it was my birthday, and I invited some girl friends round for brunch. What a lovely morning! One of my Christian friends, whose gentleness and kindness I envy, gave me a card which told me I was a blessing in her life. It really touched me, but a part of me thought she maybe had just written it because that’s the kind of nice thing Christians say to one another. But then, in perfect timing, I received a text from a very close friend, wishing me a happy birthday. She wrote that she was thankful for my friendship. Well that just sent me over the edge.

I’m not sure why I find it hard to accept that I could possibly be a blessing in other people’s lives. These two girls in particular are a massive blessing on my life, and have been since I met them. They are very different from each other, and yet possess that same gentleness and peacefulness. It is something I greatly admire within them, and many others. And something I envy. Why am I not like that?

Maybe I’ve been praying for the wrong thing. And maybe I was just made to be a bit different from them. 1 Corinthians 12: 18-31 uses an analogy of the human body for the body of the Church. Sure, the ear isn’t as pretty as the eye, but it has its own very important and unique role to play. It is the same in the Church: we all might look different in our faiths and in our ministries, but we all have a unique and equally important role to play. I found The Message translation of this text brilliantly clear: 

You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.

Ok, so I definitely still need to be a little more gentle and peaceful, and I’m probably too hot headed for my own good. But I can pray to be more like Jesus, rather than like my friends. At the same time though, I really need to learn that God has a unique role for me in his Church. That in itself gives me peace, instead of envy, for God made me, and has shaped me through my experiences and relationships. I’m not the finished article, and I never will be, but God loves me… just the way I am.