Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Idea of Freedom

I have been going through a pile of papers, from the early nineties, at the request of my sister.  As I have sorted through the many “contracts” of weekly work from first, second and third grades, I remember the years in Mrs. Wilson’s classroom fondly. 

I find landform cards that I created from blue and green construction paper, long ago.  I had properly shaped the isthmus and straight, the lake and the island.  I got the peninsula, which I shaped just like Florida, just right.  However, I had a bit of trouble with the gulf; in mine, the shape similar to the Gulf of Mexico is made of green paper, symbolizing land, and the shoreline of the southern states is blue paper, symbolizing water.  I laugh.

I smile as I see evidence of my once horrible handwriting on a map of Australia.  In neat cursive, on the side of the map, I see a note from my teacher: “Cannot read.  Redo neatly, please.”  I point it out to my mother who is sitting nearby and reminisce about the days when she, herself, used to make me re-write my homework.  

It is fun to remember these things.  Yet, it is something else that I find in the pile that makes me pause to think—the school discipline plan.  It’s an odd thing to have found, but being from a teaching background, I am curious to see what it says.

I read the first line:

“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control, is to betray the idea of freedom.”   -Maria Montessori
I wonder if these words are true. 

I find the thought fascinating, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

I begin to wrestle in my mind to try to make sense of it all.

If these words are true, wouldn’t it also be true to say more generally “To let the [person] do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom”?  I wonder.

Perhaps it could be true, for a country which prides itself on its freedom, to say  “To let the [government] do as [it] likes when [it] has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom”?  I wonder.

Is there something in the context of a classroom that doesn’t allow the concept to transfer to other spheres of life like this?  Or could it be that truth is truth?  I wonder.

I begin to wonder how this all fits into the parameters of the way God made us. 

I think about how we were given rules to live by in the garden.  We were given a choice to trust God and follow these instructions or not.  Prior to the fall of man, it seems like there was tremendous freedom within His boundaries. 

It seems to me, it is in breaking the rules and facing the consequences of disobedience that freedom is lost. 

Is this why God gives Israel a Law to live by? For as they are obedient to the covenant He makes with them, they live in freedom.  It is when they are disobedient that they live in bondage.

Is this why, as followers of Christ, we are called to surrender to Him and remain in Him?  Is it because we live according to the Spirit we find freedom?  Doesn’t Paul say this?

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  […]  And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”  2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NLT
It is here, in the midst of His guidance, not mine, I feel the most free.  I think it is because when I live according to the Spirit, I live as I was made to live.

It seems to make sense.  When people live within the boundaries God sets for them they are free.  Really free. 

This makes sense on an individual level.  I wonder if it makes sense in a bigger way. 

When we talk about freedom in our country do we mean living within the boundaries?  Or do we think of freedom as the means by which we push the boundaries?  I really do wonder.
For if truth is truth and it is freedom we’re after, shouldn’t the boundaries we seek to live by really be God’s?  How would that really work? 

Are the principles from one person to many persons really the same? 

God gives us a choice to recognize Him or not.  He gives us a choice to live within His boundaries or not.  He never forces Himself or His rules upon us.  Instead, God is patient.

All along the way—from the garden, through Israel’s kingdom, to our daily choice to live by the Spirit as individuals or as a country—God lets us choose.  He doesn’t force anything upon us, like we try to do to one another.  He lets us choose that which will bring freedom or not. 

He lets us live joyously in the midst of freedom and he lets us discover the bitterness of making choices that lead to bondage.  He walks faithfully with the free and he waits for those in bondage to come repentant and find real freedom in Him.  While there are boundaries, I wonder if His freedom is different than ours.  Different and better. 

It makes me wonder.  If we lived in His freedom would we find that we were more peaceful and more passionate people?  Would we find that we were more loving and more grateful?  Would we find that life was more full and abundant than we ever imagined?  I think so.  

These thoughts race through my mind. 

And I wonder, curious, what do you think freedom is?  What do you think Maria Montessori is trying to say?  Do her words have any bearing on life beyond the classroom?  I’d love to know what you think.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we discover true freedom in Christ.  May we find, within His boundaries, freedom is fuller than we could ever imagine.

Jessica :) 

P.S.  Thank you to my dear husband who took these photos while we were walking on the Freedom Trail in Boston quite a few years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Catching up with His Words to me through your words today... pondering the heart of freedom found in living freely within the bounds of love, God's perfect plan... but our inability or unwillingness to see and seek to understand beyond the present moment... our selfish egocentric choices compromise our freedoms and those of others... a story that repeats itself daily! And so God graciously has given us guidelines, rules, and every culture does the same in an attempt to create safety within limits for us to live freely (a Montessori principle I have valued through the years)... great train of thought! Keep thinking and writing out your conversations with God!