I pinned this just days before the Global Leadership Summit last week so it was fresh on my mind. The thought that "love sets free" totally captivated me. Weeks earlier in our home church we had studied the portion of Scripture from Isaiah 58 that says,
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out,
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you (your children)
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
We discussed how we can do these things in our homes and families. Loosing the bonds of wickedness. Undoing the heavy burdens. Letting the oppressed go free. Breaking every yoke. This totally consumed my thoughts. What would this look like? What all does this mean? I have been enraptured with this idea for weeks.
Psalm 146 tells us that this is what God is like. "The Lord executes justice for the oppressed. He gives food to the hungry and freedom to the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind and raises up those who are bowed down."Also Psalm 107: "He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces. . . He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Jesus proclaimed freedom to the captives everywhere He went. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. . . If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed." -John 8:32, 36. Paul reminded believers in Galatians 5 that because of Jesus, they were set free. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. For you were called to liberty!" Obviously from Scripture, God's desire is for us to be free. From heavy burdens, from oppression, from chains, from bondage. God sets us free, and God IS love. Thus, once again the theme, love sets free.
Insert the Global Leadership Summit. With the first few speakers (who were also amazing, by the way. I hope to share some of their insights in another post! Stay tuned!), there was this common theme of leadership not being about coercion, or making demands, or establishing control. Leadership is all about empowering your followers (children). Identifying their genius and inspiring them to be more. General Colin Powell spoke, and he said that he NEVER said, "That's an order!" to his troops. His focus was to empower them, not just create little followers who would look and talk and act like him. Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers, said that a good leader asks questions instead of telling, and invites others to think with them instead of telling others what to think. I was taking notes like mad: Ask instead of tell. Be a space maker. Help them identify their genius and name it. Open them up. Empower them. Invite them to think, to learn, to grow. Because all of this was screaming to me that once again, love = freedom.
And then. . . Brene Brown. My new heroine. Author of Daring Greatly, which I cannot wait to devour. She said that if she had to define love, she would define it like this:
Note that the hands are open. The worn, weathered hands are open. As if setting something free. She said love is messy. And hard. And gritty. To quote the famous song, "Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah." It involves allowing your most vulnerable self to be seen, with all its imperfections. It involves not knowing all the answers, but modeling the courage to ask the questions. It involves allowing others to think differently than you do. We saw some very talented artists during this summit as well that were doing very uncommon things. William Close invented an instrument called an earth harp and when he plays, it sounds like heaven. You can view a YouTube video here. David Garibaldi paints pictures of Jesus upside down in a crazy way. You can view a YouTube video here. While watching these super creative geniuses do their thing, I kept thinking, What if William's Close's momma had been like, what in the world? Why don't you just play the harp the regular way? No you cannot tie those strings to our house! Calm down and just play the harp the way everybody else does! Thank goodness, he was set free from that box and created such an amazing instrument. What if David Garibaldi's momma had been like, You've got to sit still to paint or it won't look right. Paint upside down? That's insane. No. Paint in the lines. Thank goodness he was set free from that box and now we get so inspired and the message of Jesus reaches people all over the world. Someone set them free to think differently and view things in a new way, and now we all get to enjoy their genius. So it is with my children. Freeing love will allow them the space to be who they are. I've got to say to my girls, "I love my choices. They are what God called ME to. But you do not have to make the same choices I did. You are FREE to be who God made YOU to be." I've got to cultivate love and growth and freedom and courage and failure and messiness and imperfection in my home in order to set the captives free.
Finally, Brene Brown said that love is cultivated in a relationship only when self-love is present in both. Ouch. So that means, first, I've got to love myself. She also said that there are three irreducible needs in all humans (including my children): the need to be seen and loved, the need to belong, and the need to be brave. What stood out to me about the need to belong is that she said "True belonging doesn't have checkboxes." My children should not have to check a box in order to belong. And she said we must model bravery. You cannot just tell someone to be brave, you must show them how.
So. I have hated my legs for the last few years. I have hidden them under long skirts and pants. They are big and have bulging blue veins and I think they would literally scare somebody. They scare me when I see them. I despise that part of my body. But I am learning. I wore shorts yesterday. And I told my girls I was wearing shorts on purpose. I saw this tattoo and thought that just maybe one day, I will summon the courage to get something similar on my leg to show that I am free from the tyranny of self-loathing.
So that perhaps, my children can be free as well.