Strength to be Free (Thurman)

I’m reading a book of meditations by Howard Thurman.  Today’s passage felt like it made a lot of sense for fathers and for those who love us.

“Give me the strength to be free.”  The thought of being free comes upon us sometimes with such power that under its impact we lose the meaning that the thought implies.  Often, “being free” means to be where we are not at the moment, to be relieved of a particular set of chores or responsibilities that are bearing heavily upon minds, to be surrounded by a careless rapture with no reminders of costs of any kind, to be on the open road with nothing overhead but the blue sky and whole days in which to roam.  For many, “being free” means movement, change, reordering.

To be free may not mean any of these things.  It may not involve a single change in a single circumstance, or it may not extend beyond one’s own gate, beyond the four walls in the midst of which all of one’s working hours and endless nights are spent.  It may mean no surcease from the old familiar routine and the perennial cares which have become one’s persistent lot.  Quite possibly, your days mean the deepening of your rut, the increasing of your monotony and the enlarging of the areas of your dullness.  All of this, and more, may be true for you.

“Give me strength to be free.”  Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one’s situation so as not to be overcome by them.  It is the manifestation of a quality of being and living that that the results not only from understanding of one’s situation but also from wisdom in dealing with it.  It takes no strength to give up, to accept shackles of circumstance so that they become shackles of soul, to shrug the shoulders in bland acquiescence.  This is easy.  But do not congratulate yourself that you have solved anything.  In simple language, you have sold out, surrendered, given up.  It takes strength to affirm the high prerogative of your spirit.  And you will find that if you do, a host of invisible angels will wing to your defense, and the glory of the living God will envelop your surroundings because in you He has come into His own.

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