Free Will: Freedom & Consequences

I wonder if how I feel presently about living with the free will choices of another mirrors in any minute capacity how God feels? Except God wouldn’t feel helpless or hopeless because He is the Alpha and Omega. The I AM. But I wonder if God feels a profound sadness and sorrow when He must live with and navigate our detrimental free will choices? If the Gospels indicate anything about God and God’ s love for us, my answer is “Yes.” The Diary of St. Faustina indicates the expansive mercy and pure love yet overwhelming sorrow the Divine Mercy feels towards us too.

A recent situation with a close, dear friend sparked a greater degree of introspection. Pain, heart break, confusion, and anxiety of the unknown and undecided future surfaced. Two people faced with choices. Two people moments before besotted now distant. All the tendencies towards kicking, screaming, pleading, and manipulating still don’t guarantee the desired outcome. Why? Because at the end of all my desire for control or influence, I’m incapable of making the choice for another.

In many ways, my sad scenario mimicks aspects of humanity’s relationship with God. Presented with better and healthier options or even just a different way of living topped with support and grace, we can still reject that reality and chose the opposite or a lesser variation. For all God’s grace and guidance, we can choose “no.” And God isn’t going to kick and scream or manipulate us back into place. That defies our human free will.

Love upholds freedom. If you truly love someone, you allow that person freedom. The free will to choose. This doesn’t include condoning or tolerating bad behavior. If I manipulate the free will choice of another especially for an intended result, I’m no better than enslaving them. Guidance and encouragement are different than manipulation. So I will love and let live. And pray. And hope. And attempt not worrying.

 

When You’re Tired of Fighting . . .

snowflakes
Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography

“. . . Chained by your control. There is freedom in surrender. Lay it down, and let it go.” This is a poignant line in Casting Crown’s song “Be Held.” A song with a message that came into my life two years ago.

A recent conversation with one of my best friends prompted this post. Both she and I are facing potentially radical life changes or challenges. The common thread was the idea of being held. Both she and I have been instructed by priests to be held and stop grasping at and controlling life. My priest, a Jesuit on a retreat during the sacrament of confession, further warned me of the dangers of this illusion of control. Sure we make free will choices about what we think, say, or do, but the real ticket items of life are out of our control.

You can be the healthiest and most active person but still experience a health crisis. You can be the most competent driver and still end up in a car accident. You can pray and do all the right things at the right time and still have a crisis of faith. Praying that perfect novena might not get you the spouse you want or deserve in a timely fashion. Grace downpours upon us, but grace doesn’t equal control. Only God has authentic control, I.e.., He is the alpha and omega. Moreover, God isn’t about control. God is about a divine, merciful, and loving plan for us and our world working with our free will choices.

My Jesuit retreat master warned me of the dangers of control. He explained I was chained by could haves, should haves, and would haves. I was playing God. Not only were my two hands chained behind my back, my freedom was becoming more limited and constricted. I was chained by my control, and in the process I had lost an innate and inalienable aspect of my humanity- freedom.

His solution: BE HELD. For any reader who may be scoffing, “dude, that is easy,” either you have achieved a level of sanctity many of us are working on or this concept really hasn’t sunk in or been practiced. Allowing Christ to hold you in complete and utter abandonment like an infant in a parent’s arms is no small feat especially as a modern adult. To back away and tell God, “I can’t handle it. You handle it.” Or “I rely more on you than myself or anyone or anything else.”

Be Held . . . A lifetime of practicing this reality awaits. I look to my neice and nephews as examples running into my arms with arms stretched wide, face joyful, and eyes scrunched closed. Once in my arms, the dead of weigh of their love and trust almost cripple me. I hope and pray that one day I will approach Jesus in this manner.