An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An Illustration on Freedom

A couple of weeks ago we attended an Open House at the Catholic High School my son will be attending next fall. At one point my son, perhaps in awe of all the high school students, made a comment along the lines that he can't wait until he gets older so he can be free to do what he wants.

Hmmmm. He was expressing a very common attitude in young teens who tend to think of freedom as not having a parent, or a teacher, or anyone for that matter, telling them what to do. To them, freedom is doing "what I want".

It was just a passing comment, but I didn't want him to think freedom was simply having a selection of choices; instead, he needed to know that true freedom is found in the right choice you ultimately make. It's a hard concept to understand.

To illustrate my point I reminded him of something that happened not so long ago:

One evening last fall our middle son, Jonathan, was excited about an upcoming football game and he wanted the entire family to come see him play. It had been a very busy week and Nicholas did not want to go. I could see that this was hurting his little brother's feelings, so I had a quiet talk with Nicholas.

I explained to him how much it meant for Jonathan to have his older brother come cheer him on, but since it had been a stressful week, we were going to leave the decision up to him. He could freely choose to come to the game, or he could stay home.

Now, neither decision was wrong, but one was definitely more right.

When it was time to leave, Nicholas came downstairs, high-fived his brother, and climbed into the van. We all went to the game and had a lovely evening.

As I told this story, Nicholas smiled...he remembered. But I wasn't done, yet.

I explained how that night he had been given the freedom to choose, but with his decision he experienced the true freedom that is God's gift to us. It's not the freedom found in the opportunity to choose, but rather the freedom that comes with choosing the right thing.

And the beauty of this freedom is that it manifests itself on so many levels.

That night Jonathan was free from having his feelings hurt.
My husband and I were free from any feelings of disappointment in our son.
Nicholas was free from any guilt he may have felt had he chosen not to go.

All these graces because he made a decision that was the right thing to do.

Of course, life is complicated. Decisions aren't always easy, or clear. But when we turn to God and pray for discernment, He shows us the way.

Only then can we be free.

10 comments:

GrandmaK said...

A wonderful lesson you taught your son. One he will, no doubt, remember on many occasions. He has a very wise mother! God bless you! Cathy

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I mentioned to a neighbor (during my teen daughter's worst year) how Anna couldn't wait to be a grown-up so nobody could tell her when to get up, how to dress, what to eat, etc. And he said, "She doesn't want to be a grown-up; she wants to be a college student!"

How true. I'll remember your explanation of freedom. Do you remember in Little Town on the Prairie, when Laura goes to the 4th of July celebration and they are reading the Declaration of Independence aloud? And she has this epiphany that, since it is God who gives us our freedom, we need to use that freedom to follow God's laws. Only it was way more profound than that - you'll have to read it yourself.

Kathryn said...

Your such a wonderful mother! I wish some adults had, had a mother like you so that they could excerise true freedom the same way your son did!
I love this post!

Laura said...

Wow...Bia's swimming in the DEEP end today.
Very lovely reflection.
I teared up a bit.

Kim H. said...

Bia,
You are an amazing Mom. What a wonderful opportunity to teach a life lesson about choices - and making sometimes the right choice, even though it's hard.

All by the grace of God; all by the grace of God! :)

Hugs!

Soutenus said...

What a fantastic post. Thanks for sharing!!!

E said...

i will carry this with me and pass it on to my own children. This was lovely Bia. Deeply true and beautifully said...

Darla said...

What a profound lesson! It's so nice to read this because it reminds me of important things to remember to teach my kids! Thanks for the deep insight and for sharing it! :) Happy Thanksgiving!

:o) mg said...

He'll be glad one day that you didn't let that comment fall by the wayside.
Happy Thanksgiving, girl!

Wendy said...

What a beautiful post, Bia! I love hearing how you sieze those teachable moments!