I can’t be the only one. At least I hope not. I live in a country that has long been a defender of freedom. I serve a Savior who died and rose to give me freedom. And yet all too often, I don’t feel all that free.
It’s not the usual chains one might imagine. For some, their family feels like an unwelcome weight. Not for me. For others it’s pressure from peers or friends. I suppose there’s some of that in all of us. But the tyrant I seem to fear most is — me.
As the words of poem by James Russel Lowell that I memorized in childhood remind me:
Our fathers fough for Liberty,
They struggled long and well,
History of their deeds can tell-
But did they leave us free?
Are we free from vanity,
Free from pride, and free from self,
Free from love of power and pelf,
From everything that’s beggarly?
Are we free from stubborn will,
From low hate and malice small,
From opinion’s tyrant thrall?
Are none of us our own slaves still?
Most of the frustrations in my life come from the expectations I place on myself. I had a plan for the day. I got off plan. Therefore, I must be mentally scourged for failing. Dishing out that penalty takes more time, of course, which leads to even greater angst.
I had a list of things to accomplish in the day. The list was impossible in the space of anyone’s twenty-four hours. Still, impossible is no excuse for failure, right? So I end the day condeming myself and sighing that I just can’t seem to get anything done, in spite of the fact that I accomplished more in a day than most would think of attempting.
It’s still not enough. It’s never enough.
I am a cruel taskmaster.
My hope lies in the freeing words of Christ. “No man can serve two masters.” I can’t serve both God and me. I must choose. My load is oppressivly heavy. I can’t bear it. I’ve figured that out. And even when I think I just might be able to pull it off, I pile on more just to keep myself in my place. Weird, I know. But maybe we’re more alike than I know.
Christ invites us to take a different burden — His. His yoke is easy because He is shouldering most of the weight. As I respond to his invitation to rest, I walk alongside Him as a friend. “No longer do I call your servants but I have called you friends.”
Only when I call myself what I am — a dictator — and turn to Christ can I feel true freedom.
Enough of this failing to meet my own shifting standards. I’m committing to serve only one Master whose commands are fixed and whose forgiving love never fails.
Now the hard part — living it today.
Can you relate to this pressure to please your own impossibly high expectations? How does your faith move you to depend less on your self and more on God? Leave a comment to share the growth.