While going through Freeway several years ago, I heard Mike Foster tell the story of when, as a little boy, he used to collect caterpillars – as many of us did when we were children – and would place them in a jar and watch them weave a cocoon around themselves and then delight in their transformation from blah caterpillar to gorgeous butterfly.
And he pointed out that when he let the butterfly go, they always flew away.
Not once did they return to the confines of the jar. Not once did they beg to go back to being a caterpillar.
His point to us was that once we taste freedom – emotional, relational and spiritual freedom – we should be always moving forward. It is for freedom that Christ set us free, after all. (Galatians 5:1)
And yet, of course, there are those of us who go back and forth between freedom and slavery/unhealthy/dysfunction because it can be hard to break old habits. I get that. I’ve done that. I still occasionally do that.
But here’s the thing. It occurred to me that in some areas of my life…I maybe don’t know what the jar is and what freedom in Christ is.
When all you’ve known is the jar, like for longer than you were in your cocoon…longer than you were supposed to be jarred up…and the jar masqueraded as home…and it had creature comforts…and you were living under the illusion that your jar was actually your freedom…then what?
I am living a life between unhealth and wholeness. I am light years from where I was even a year or two ago, emotionally and relationally. I barely recognize who I was a decade ago and who I am now. And yet, I can tell by some of my knee-jerk emotional and physical reactions to things that I have not yet arrived at what I would call a whole and healed human being.
There are a few people in my life that I have chosen to stop speaking to. They are no longer in my life. This is sad. And it feels equally un-Christian/not-Jesus-y/non-turning-the-other-cheek of me and equally healthy boundary/getting stronger/knowing myself well of me.
In some areas of my life, I’m in and out of the jar, flying back and forth, not knowing which is the jar and which is freedom. And it’s confusing. And it’s not black and white. And someone could give me a Scripture and a psychological principal to back up either way I go.
So here’s what I know and have to hold onto: Christ has set me free and mysteriously is constantly in the process of setting me free.
I am totally and completely free in Christ.
And yet I am not totally and completely free relationally and emotionally. Though I am free-r than I ever have been.
And today, free-r is enough.
If you’d like to join a likeminded community of women becoming Wholehearted, we’d love to have you.
You’re welcome, Anne.
Sister – you are READING MY MIND TODAY!! This describes me EXACTLY today!! Your post has given me a healthier perspective on where I am in the very long, confusing process. THANK YOU!!!
Kim, I’m so glad to hear this! We need a longer view of our journey sometimes. He’s walking with us through the whole thing. -Elisabeth
Thank you for this timely post. Doesn’t God always send what we need when we need it? My (unwanted) divorce is final today. Alcohol+ porn+ codependency = tragedy. I have come a long way,but have so very much farther to go. Thank you for verbalizing so well what I have been experiencing.
How much fear did you experience in pursing the divorce? My marriage sounds a lot like your ex-marriage, but fear seems to be keeping me in the jar.
It is a relief to find out I am not the only one feeling like this!! Thanks for this post.
Awww, Rebecca! You are so not alone. -Elisabeth
Awesome Elisabeth! I am Free!! (we were to repeat that right?) instead of a jar just the other day I related my experiences like being shoved in a box that was taped up and labeled on the outside with all kinds of adjectives that were not true of me. Not one. But you’re right…box or jar there were comforts inside! I am just glad the Jesus has box cutters and jar openers and there is freedom in Him!! It is a journey
Thank you Elisabeth! Yes! Also, in response to the comment above…I am glad “Jesus has box cutters” too! 🙂 This so goes along with the vision the Lord gave me, as I was first entering the excruciating process of divorce. I was in a prison called “Shame, Fear, and Anger” and Jesus came, opened the prison door, and called me out. It was a beautiful vision and I often think of how he freed and released me. However, as you mentioned…I sometimes return to the prison…and have to once again be shown/redirected, that Jesus released me to be free!
Dawn, that is beautiful. I especially love that “he called me out”. Just gorgeous. Thank you for reading and commenting. -Elisabeth
Yes, repeat it! (Over and over if you have to!) And yes, Jesus has box-cutters. Love it! -Elisabeth
WOO-HOO!!! JUST THE ENCOURAGEMENT I NEEDED FOR THIS MOMENT!!! LOVE THIS POST!!! SHARING IT WITH FRIENDS!!!
PRAISE THE LORD!!!!
Aww, Kim…this encourages me so much. Thank you! -Elisabeth
I am so overcome with emotion right now, I don’t even know where to begin. This sentence took my breath away & literally froze me: “I am living a life between unhealth and wholeness.” YES. Me, too. Physically & emotionally. I can’t… Just… Thank you.
Sweet Carey Ann…thank you. I’m so glad my words resonated with you. Keep reading. -Elisabeth
Thank you – this touches my heart in ways you cannot imagine – I don’t feel alone in these feelings after hearing your feelings.
Thank you, Laura. You are not alone. -Elisabeth
Exactly what I’m feeling. Where is the jar and where is the outside of it? I agree, there are comforts in that jar. I am very tempted by them all too often.