Freedom found me. Yes, it did. And if I had to choose one word to describe what freedom is, it is this: simplicity.
I remember walking to my subway ride after a long day of work back when I was working in Makati as a software developer. I would blast my phone’s earphones to full volume and play Bebo Norman’s song, Disappear.
It was my anthem.
On a day like this, I wanna crawl beneath a rock.
A million miles from the world, the noise, the commotion.
That never seems to stop.
I was desperate. I was the living example of Henry Thoreau’s quote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I was stuck in a routine I didn’t want to be a part of, and every day was a struggle to get out of bed, grit my teeth and toil through traffic, work and a life I didn’t want.
I think we know. We can feel it in our bones whether or not we are living the life we ought to. You may not know exactly what you want from life, but you’ll know when you are not where you ought to be.
I remember the defining moment when I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to quit my job. It was when I began to want an iPad.
And I was willing to get a credit card for it. I was willing to go into debt for it. And had you asked me then why I wanted an iPad, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a sensible answer. I definitely did not need it, but it seemed to be something I just had to have. I just had to.
I could still remember that moment as I was filling out the credit card application form when I realized how ridiculous I was being. With the pay I was getting, I, of course, knew that I could afford the gadget anyway. But I realized the future I was about to give myself to.
The endless striving. The multiple gadgets I would always drool over – with little regard over whether or not I truly needed them. I envisioned the materialistic, complicated path I was launching myself into. And I stopped short.
It wasn’t the life I wanted to live.
Have you seen the Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness? Remember that scene where he finally got what he was working so hard for? That moment of pure bliss?
That’s what I felt like the moment I stepped out of our office building on my last day of work.
It was a taste of freedom.
It was happiness.
Human beings have a way of complicating things. Just when I broke out of the prison driven by materialism, consumerism and ambition, I found myself in another prison. One that was more… subtle.
I was imprisoned by religion.
I plunged myself into ministry. I wanted to believe that I did it out of love, but if I were to be honest with myself, I did it for approval. There are a legalistic spirits that fuel every world religion. It promotes hypocrisy and self-righteousness. It is the huff and the puff of the chest of a Christian who accomplished a job well done. It is an ingredient for self-promotion and arrogance.
I was the prodigal son who became the other brother. What people said began to matter more than who God said I was.
I caved under the pressure.
Criticism is a powerful wave that can break your bones once it hits you full force, and wave after wave after wave came. Relentlessly.
The favor of man is fickle. Because we want one thing one minute and hate it the very next. We can be so easily driven by whims and cravings and quick, senseless distractions.
We are complicated. We’re not simple. We are an amalgamation of past, present and perceived experiences. We are the results of upbringing and environment. We are the fruit of so many different factors and intersecting influences.
We are body. We are soul. We are spirit.
We are the huffing and puffing fallen. Trying to be independent, strong, successful adults in a broken world.
And in all this complexity, it’s so hard to see the way to freedom.
But freedom found me in the form of childlike simplicity.
It’s not easy to trust. It’s not easy to pinpoint who you should trust.
But children raised in a loving, safe environment – they know what it’s like to trust.
That’s where I am now. I am fighting to stay in that simplicity, in that loving, safe environment, with the One Whom I have chosen to stake my entire life on. The One I trust.
To live each day trusting that His hand holds mine.
I’m moving to China in less than a month. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what’s going to happen. My life has become an adventure with twists and turns I couldn’t possibly predict.
The future holds so many possibilities, and yes… more obstacles, more traps, more foes, more prisons. But I know that everything is going to be okay.
Freedom found me, and along with it, I have found my simplicity. I know Who I trust.
And I’m free. Free indeed.