What Freedom Means

(c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

On the last day of June ten years ago , I was walking along a quiet beach trail in Puget Sound. Unbeknownst to me, it was the first (of a limited number) of Tall Ship festivals. My companion was the young man I was dating (the truth is that I was irrevocably smitten though I tried to stay aloof). We had left the extended family behind and were walking hand-in-hand, our thoughts on opposite sides of the Sound as it were. He suddenly asked me to marry him, breaking me out of my pure enjoyment of walking next to such a handsome man in such a beautiful place.

“What? No, you can’t be serious, you’re not even down on one knee,” I said as I tried to brush it off.

So he got down on one knee. I tried to keep walking, but he was still holding my hand. He asked again. I declined once again, commenting that there was no ring.

We continued on our way. Me, blown away that he was proposing. Him, blown away at being refused, twice. But he asked one more time, explaining that he had hoped to take me to a mountaintop and of all his beautiful plans. I (finally) relented and here we are, nine years of marriage, two sons, one Chihuahua and cat later.

Our wedding was one year, one day later. It felt as though it was a seamless transition–so natural to be walking through our town’s Independence day festivities a few days later. We really fell into friendship quite easily–he still has that easy charm that put me off my guard then. But still in my mind, there is such a distinct division between my life before and my life after. My husband’s presence in my life tethers me not only to the practical every-day world we actually live in, but also to my faith. Otherwise, I would be drifting out into thoughtful thoughtlessness. But more than that, I can imagine my life without him because (obviously) I’ve lived without him.

He helps me see the world a bit differently, a bit brighter. Without his influence, I drifted into thoughts of chaos and condemnation. You see, I may be a thinker but I’m a concrete learner. My husband’s love for me as his wife is the symbol of Christ’s love for His bride, for me. When I feel separated from my husband, I feel further from God.

I’ve learned over our 13-year connection how to resist my husband’s friendly charm, to put up my restraints. It gets easier to keep your heart from melting at his smile when you’ve washed his dirty laundry, packed his lunches, washed his dinner dishes, etc., etc. In other words, I can batten down the hatches, lock myself in the prison of me, and just let his good humor pass over me until he’s onto something else. It’s even easier when you both have other responsibilities

When he proposed, I was convinced that I could not really be wanted as a wife, that he would be better off by choosing any other girl that he had dated. I mean, I was me. When you are instilled with the belief, through comments and deeds, that you are an insignificant, unwanted afterthought in the lives of the people you are dependent on, the people that you love, well, it’s impossible to conceive you could be viewed as otherwise by anyone. You know that you are adrift on a lonely sea.

I have been freed by Christ, those chains are gone. I feel as if I am coming out of a storm. I didn’t even see it coming, didn’t see a clearing while in it. And the choppy waters still rock the boat a bit. I have the option to cast a line to my partner and hold on for dear life. I should know now that I am not in this sea alone.  So why do I sometimes live as though my hands are still bound?

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