Written by: Morgan Snyder
Freedom is not what I thought it was.
I recently took a test and found out that I am an Enneagram 7. This might not mean much to you, but it is very telling about how I view the world. In short, I avoid pain and discomfort (physical and emotional), and I love adventure, experiencing new things, and I do NOT like limits being put on me.
When I think of freedom, I initially think of being able to do whatever I want whenever I want because there should be no restraints on me. This is partially true; a pursuit of freedom is an attempt to get rid of limitations. But sometimes doing whatever I want to do actually puts MORE restraints on me, which is the opposite of freedom. Here are few examples:
I LOVE food. Food is a good; we need it for nutrients. However, I often overindulge in the kind of food that has no nutritional value for me. Do you love food? Imagine spending a couple days eating whatever you want whenever you want, giving into all your cravings without constraint. At first glance, that sounds great! But if we were to do this, it is more than likely going to leave us feeling over-stuffed, lethargic, and not fueled. One person could look at eating a crazy amount of food as freedom and have the attitude, “You should be able to eat as much as you want!” But if you ask me, the way I feel after I eat everything I crave without limits is worse than not eating everything I want to eat. It means that I don’t have the freedom to hike a mountain or run around with my dogs because I’m too busy living with the consequences of my binge. Giving in for a moment of pleasure limits my future self.
Something else, that can falsely define freedom, is gossiping. I am drawn to knowing things that other people don’t know, having dirt on people so I can feel better about myself, and talking about others behind their back. In the moment, gossip feels exhilarating, like I’m in the inner circle. But when I take a step back and look at the big picture, all gossip does is push people away from me. When people know you as a gossip, you are also known to be untrustworthy, self-centered, and negative. I would never want to be known as those things, but when I gossip, I am communicating with other people that I am not a good friend. So it limits my ability to have deep, strong, and true friendships. There is a lot of debate about our freedom of speech these days, but when freedom of speech is abused, it can actually rob us and others of the freedoms it was intended to give.
There are so many other examples: consuming drugs tears down your body and could land you in jail, talking to people disrespectfully could make you lose your job and/or take away your ability to affect the world in a positive way in that moment, having sex before committing in marriage takes away the freedom to evaluate the relationship without emotional clouding and could leave you stuck in a relationship that “feels” connected but truly isn’t. Procrastinating feels good in the moment but eventually all the work we put off has to be done and that leaves our future self with a whole heap of responsibilities instead of doing it a little at a time. Seeing something in a store and buying it without any thought puts you behind on your budget and doing this overtime can leave you bankrupt.
This might seem all doom and gloom, but instead of thinking “I can’t do anything!”, let’s have the perspective, “I know what I want. I am going to choose the difficult thing that is good for me now so that later on I can live in freedom from consequence or lost time.” The healthy thing is often the difficult thing, but it is worth it if it takes you to your goals and an overall healthier life!
Now THAT’S freedom!