This passage came to mind this morning as I was getting ready for the day and watching the full moon set over the frosty grass.
Last week, I'd been contemplating some of my deep thoughts and feelings. I'm realizing that unconsciously, I feel that I'm not allowed to have desires of my own. I feel that I'm not allowed to have my own will or take action of my own volition. Part of this is a fear of doing things that will hurt others. Part of it is that I feel like having my own will is selfish. If I just didn't have wants and didn't take action, I wouldn't hurt anyone and I'll be selfless - right? That's how it has felt deep inside. I think this is why Buddhist teachings on non-attachment captured my attention in college. And I think this is why I've been so afraid of growing up. If I grow up, then I *have* to take responsibility for myself. I have to take action. I'll have to make decisions. What do I even want? I can't seem to figure it out. That's all too scary, too hard. I'll just reject that possibility and be a harmless child. But is this how God wants me to feel?
According to the Bible, God created men and women in His image ("So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27). He created us with the capacity for thought, feelings, and directed action. He wants me to develop these by training my mind, my emotions, and my actions. But what happens if I only take responsibility for some of these? What happens if I reject the fact that I have a will and instead live as though I were a slave? I think that's how my soul has been living in some ways.
Over the years, I've had recurring dreams of being taken prisoner. I felt a lot of fear (even adrenaline-rich panic) but I also had this twisted sense of safety. Because as a prisoner, the captors made the choices and I just did as I was told. I'm very comfortable following orders. There was always a sense in which these dreams were comfortable but alarming - somehow not how it was supposed to be. I've had dreams of injury in a similar fashion. If I'm injured, I can't exert my will - problem solved! I'll just follow along as circumstances dictate. But as I've been journaling and feeling the feelings associated with these things, I'm beginning to see it differently. It really doesn't feel very good :( It feels like cowering, squeezing my eyes shut as tight as possible, covering my ears, waiting for the punishment to come. But I'm starting to peek open my eyes, uncover my ears, and I feel like the woman in John 8 - "Woman, where are those accusers of yours?" *blinks* I always thought my enemies were circumstances, mean people - all these things on the outside. But really, I think my hardest enemies have been on the inside. Those internal judges and executioners. I was the one holding myself in a state of imprisonment in accusation and fear and lies. But Jesus is opening the way to step out of that and to stand as a free, redeemed adult.
(And instantly I feel like judging myself for being so foolish for so long, but I have to remind myself that God's timing is perfect. I'm growing - slow or fast isn't important. I am facing the fear and stepping through it by God's grace and that's what's important.)
(And then I feel intimidated by others, who have lived in full acceptance of their wills since childhood and seem to be so much stronger and wiser than me. Yes, maybe this is why I fear children so much - because they are happily will-full while I've been repressive. But I don't have to feel guilty about that either. We all make mistakes and we all have our lessons. And sometimes we learn when making mistakes and seemingly making a fool of ourselves. I mean, look at Coyote - of all the animal stories, he probably makes the most mistakes, but he also has one of the most beautiful songs of laughter of the animals. And he really is a very intelligent creature. So I'll move through this and even write about it so others can see. God shows His strength in the weak things and His wisdom in the foolish. He is greater than all and He loves His creation and is working to restore it <3 I Corinthians 1:25-27)
So what is a healthy Christian perspective toward the will? From what I can understand, God does want me to embrace my will - not to do evil, but to submit it to Him to do good (Galatians 5:13). Rather than live in denial of my volition, I think it would be better for me to acknowledge this self and to take responsibility for it. I think this is the self-control that the Holy Spirit is working to help me develop (Galatians 5:23). Not control in the sense of holding myself hostage in fear, but self-control in acknowledging that God gave me the capacity for thought, feeling, and action, and to bring all of these before Him. That originally, these were all created good, but since Adam and Eve sinned, these are all tainted by sin. And God sent His Son Jesus to redeem me as a whole person. To purify me and make me stand in His righteousness. To restore my thoughts, feelings, and my will. (What a thought that is.) May God help me to trust Him, to have courage to stand in my own body and mind and spirit, and to live by the power of His Spirit in righteousness all the days of my life. This is my prayer. <3
"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
...To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life." -Luke 1:68-75