All of us who are human beings are in the image of God. But to be in his likeness belongs only to those who by great love have attached their freedom to God.—St. Diadochus of Photike
I’m sure I have taken my freedom for granted for most of my life. Freedom that comes with being an American citizen. Freedom that comes with financial security. Freedom that comes with good health. These freedoms are also freedoms FROM things like tyranny, poverty, and debilitating illness.
Over the past five weeks since my accident, I’ve re-evaluated what freedom means to me. Being completely dependent upon others for my care while unable to walk or leave the house alone has caused me to reflect on the blessing that these abilities are in everyday life. Breaking into a sweat and getting out of breath while making my way from one room to another on my walker, hopping on one foot, has reminded me what a gift it is to be able to walk on two feet. I can’t wait to be FREE to do that again one day.
A dear friend from high school emailed me and shared about his struggles with having a hip replacement done 3 times due to infections and other problems, and the eleven months he spent on a walker and crutches. He shared with me how much it helped him to reflect on others around him whose circumstances were worse than his, and I can see how that helps. Even reading about his struggle made me appreciate that mine aren’t as severe. But they are my struggles. So what does all this have to do with freedom?
The quote from St. Diodochus (which was in our bulletin at St. John Orthodox Church this past Sunday) talks about attaching our freedom to God. That’s a phrase I hadn’t heard before. But today I’m considering how different my life would be if I learned to attach my freedom to God, rather than attaching it to circumstances—like being able to walk or not feel pain. Or turn my head from side to side.
Our “handyman” was here to repair our oven door this week, and I learned that his son had died recently. He was in his 30s, and had been paralyzed in an accident a number of years ago. Herb had been caring for his son all those years. When I told him how sorry I was to hear of his son’s death, he smiled and said, “Thank you. But he’s FREE now.” I get that. He is free from being trapped in a paralyzed body for all those years. I can’t imagine what that prison was like.
I’m going to try to remember him as I continue in my recovery and then learn to live with whatever limitations I have long term. But I’m also going to try to learn to attach my freedom to God, rather than to my physical circumstances. I have no idea how I’m going to do that, but I think it will at least involve prayer. Like this phrase from my regular Morning Prayers:
Give me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
The day brought a visit to the doctor, where I had stitches removed and a hard cast applied. Of course it’s heavier than the previous splint and soft bandage, so I have the opportunity to learn more about this freedom thing. In four weeks I should graduate to a removable boot. And I look forward to the freedom that will bring—freedom to take a bath or scratch my leg. But I hope that by then I will have made a tiny bit of progress in this effort to learn to attach my freedom to God.
Have a great weekend, everyone!