I was cooking dinner right before I sat down to write this post. I already knew what I wanted to write on.
The topic of surrender and sacrifice is big now as we kick off Lent (for those who observe Lent) and as we prep for Easter. This is a time of year that is all about sacrifice and freedom, and how the two are often intertwined.
I knew I wanted to share some thoughts on how important letting go can be in our walk of freedom. And then I burnt my hand and had an unintentional real life object lesson to share.
I reached into the oven to remove my carefully-crafted masterpiece, not realizing my cloth oven mit had soaked up oil from an earlier step in the process. I grabbed the pan and pain seared into my fingers and up my arm. Still, I didn’t let go. Don’t ask me why. I think perhaps I was confused. After all, I was wearing a mit, so surely I couldn’t be getting burned.
It wasn’t until I had the pan half way out of the oven that I realized, “This oven mit is not working.” Still, I didn’t let go. A split second later, I realized that I was actually getting burned. The pan went flying and dinner landed on the bottom of the oven.
So, what do my scorched fingers have to do with your walk?
Sometimes, we don’t know freedom because we won’t let go. We hold onto things that are hurting us because we can’t see why they are hurting us or how they are hurting us. They might even be good, which is why it can be so difficult for us to let them go.
I’ve talked a lot in the past about triggers. They are seemingly benign things that can seem to trip us up. It might be something as complex as an emotion, or something as simple as the smell of a particular lotion. It could be something as serious as trauma or as joyful as dancing. We all have ties that keep us trapped.
The question is, are you willing to let them go?
The Bible has something to say about this idea of letting go of things, even things that can be good for us. The one I reference a lot in my own life is Matthew 18. This is sometimes referred to as the idea of ‘radical amputation.’ Perhaps you are familiar with it.
In Matthew 18, verses 8 and 9, Jesus talks about physically eliminating parts of your body that cause you to stumble. I don’t take this passage to literally mean that we need to hack and gouge our bodies in the name of holiness. Instead, I think it is speaking to the sacrifices we can make in our own walks of freedom.
It is Personal
It’s worth noting- that the thing being removed in these verses is the part of my body that causes offense. Even in Christian circles, we are guilty of externalizing our struggles. We condemn pornography without recognizing the role our own eyes play in the process. I have often seen this passage used to justify tossing out computers or bashing in TVs. But that’s not what this passage is saying.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to eliminate whatever external thing our hands, feet, or eyes are sinning with. Instead, He tells us to address our own weakness. If your hand causes you to sin, get rid of it. Deal with what is going on with you, instead of trying to control your surroundings.
Now, there is merit in staving off temptation. Because we all know that if we really want something, hand or no hand, we will find a way to get to it. So, let your approach to struggles be two-fold if possible. Deal with the weakness in your own life and then find a way to make things a little less tempting.
It is Personalized
Just because you hack off your hands (figuratively speaking) does not mean I need to. Your path to freedom and the boundaries you need will look different than the ones I need. That doesn’t make me a better Christian or you a stronger Christian. It just is what it is.
A few years ago, my mom got me a Kindle for Christmas. It was back when the Kindle Fire was brand new (and fairly expensive). I turned it on, and the first thing I noticed was that a vast majority of the free books on the Kindle were erotica novels. I turned it off, and we returned it to the store. To this day, I don’t have a Kindle.
Is it because they are evil? No. And do I think that no one should have them? No. My siblings all have them and I don’t sit around suspecting that they are reading erotica. Do I think that you perhaps, just for accountability’s sake, have some kind of safeguards in place? Of course.
But the fact of the matter is just because I have that boundary doesn’t mean everyone needs it. Others might have boundaries I don’t need. That’s ok!
It Might Not Be Forever
This is where we stray from the Biblical narrative here. If you ‘chop off your hand’ there is no putting that hand back on. However, if you set up a boundary because of your own struggle, that boundary does not necessarily have to stand forever. If you break your leg, hopefully, you are not on crutches forever. Just until you heal. So, while some things you have to let go will never be returned, others might be.
I’ve had to let go of various things in my life in order to support my walk of freedom. Some of them, I’m sure, were strange to others. In college, I asked my roommates to stop talking about sex. Obviously, now, I talk about it… often.
For several years after college, I wouldn’t have a laptop or headphones. Laptops were nothing but trouble. Headphones, I found, were a huge problem for me. If I didn’t have them, I was markedly less likely to even think of watching pornography.
Yet, here I sit, writing this on my laptop with Big Daddy Weave pumping through my headphones. The laptop is no longer an issue, but you better believe these headphones stay on the kitchen table. They don’t walk into my room with me. Ever.
But there have been emotional things I’ve had to let go of too. Trauma, feelings of pity, anger, shame, desire for revenge, unforgiveness… it can all pile up and trap you.
What is it for you?
As we enter this season of reflecting on sacrifice and freedom, what in your life is making it harder for you to experience freedom? What “little things” are you holding onto thinking they don’t affect this struggle? What good thing is burning you?
Are you willing to let it go?
A fantastic resource that I often recommend that really helps dig out such issues is the book Sexual Sanity for Women. You can find a link to purchase it, along with other books, over on the Resource page.