Her freckled face was framed with curly red hair. I noticed because as she walked past me her neck turned to allow her a longer look. I lifted my head and smiled. Her half-smile broke open wide and her eyes seemed to gaze longingly...taking in the whole scene of me.
It sounds strange, I know...to think that a pre-teen girl following her father into Starbucks would long for my life. A life of juggling motherhood and sick children and work and writing and the schedule that comes along with a busy family of four. Maybe my hair was standing straight up or I had egg on my face...or maybe it really was a longing look.
I considered what that gangly young girl may have seen on that shaded sidewalk this morning...
a grown up girl
not dependent on her dad for a ride
doing as she pleases
drinking what she wants
reading what she loves
free to make her own choices
It wasn't all that long ago that I was her...the girl with the longing eyes.
As a 5th grader I remember seeing my favorite Sunday school teacher that way... a young woman who held a freedom that split the world wide open in front of her like the sweetest summer watermelon.
I imagined how that freedom could take me all the places and show me all the things and teach me all the lessons that I chose...instead of the ones chosen for me. But we don't acquire freedom all at once like we acquire a driver's license.
Bit by bit we receive it.
And if we're not careful...
bit by bit we release it.
This morning's temperature was cooler than it should have been...like some leftover spring breeze found it's way out from under the thick summer air. My kids were in Vacation Bible School and all my meetings got cancelled. I found myself sharing a table with a decaf hazelnut americano, my laptop, and a pile of books. My 'Bach station' on Pandora was feeding an airy instrumental version of 'Be Thou My Vision' into my ears as I recalled the poetic words I know by heart.
In that moment the obstacles I face faded, and the sweet freedom I posses resurfaced.
I felt the chains falling off. The ones I unknowingly wrap around my own wrists and ankles.
We live our childhood anticipating the days of freedom that lie ahead and then as soon as we get there we begin finding ways to enslave ourselves all over again.
When we let the world define the vision for our life we hand our freedom over.
I've done that. I do that.
And then I wind up feeling like I'm living in a dark and dirty jail cell.
Lately I have felt depressed.
Today I looked down and saw the key in my hand. It had been there all along.
Sometimes I let the freedom I carry point me towards all the decisions that need to be made and questions that need to be answered...and suddenly freedom feels more like slavery. If I'm not careful I lose sight of God's vision for my life and bind myself up in all sorts of unrealistic worldly expectations.
And then someone walks by with longing eyes and I am reminded that I stand holding a life that was the dream of a younger me.
Instead of trying to survive it, I will treasure it.
Yes - life is hard...
but we are free.
Sometimes it helps to step outside of our messy lives and see who we are with fresh eyes...with the eyes of our younger freedom-seeking selves. To be reminded that not only have we been given a vision but that we are a vision.
The hands that knit you together, the mouth the breathed life into your lungs...behind them is a God who had a vision for something wonderful...you.
And He certainly doesn't want you wasting all that wonderful-ness locked up in the dark.
Today I quietly recommitted myself to living as the wonderful vision He created me to be and using every bit of my freedom to make make my vision Him.