Monday, August 28, 2006

thanks for the mustard

“Everyone in the world who is free wants freedom first of all as a means: he wants freedom in order to give it away.” ~Fulton Sheen

I know how true this is. There is nothing so tiring as having nothing to do; a summer of laziness a few years ago taught me that. I need those demands on my time that can limit my freedom, but I want the freedom to decide which demands I will take upon myself.

Much of my restlessness in the past year has been the result of this desire as well. I moved far from home; I found that I had to in order to gain the freedom to make my own decisions. I need that freedom, but I don’t want it. Something deep within me wants to give that freedom away. I want to give that freedom away to the man who will one day be my husband. I want to begin to make sacrifices for him. When I discover I cannot, I try to give up that freedom in whatever way I can think of. I begin to think God is calling me to the religious life or consecrated singlehood. Because, by golly, I’m ready to give up my freedom.

Sheen also quotes G. K. Chesterton as saying, “If man were not free, he could never say, ‘Thank you for the mustard.’” Those thanks are for two reasons: one, because the giver is free to give, and two, because the receiver is free to accept. God, in his goodness and omnipotence, has complete freedom. As Christ asks, what father would give his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Our Father knows how to give us what is good, and He does so. Our acceptance is also free. We all know what it is to receive a gift that we don’t really want. We try to hide our disappointment; we look for whatever good quality we can find, and we graciously say thank you, not because we want to lie about our gift or our feelings, but because of the goodness of the giver who deserves our thanks regardless of whether we appreciate the gift. How much more then does God, who is goodness itself, deserve our thanks?

My freedom is a gift from him. Yes, he did give it in order that I could give it away, but I must give it in the way that He intends, not refuse it because it is not yet time for me to give my freedom in the way that I desire. The Lord has given me the gift of freedom. In return, he deserves thanks. I will give him this thanks, not because I must, but because I am free to.

1 comment:

Frank said...

Nice quote
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“Everyone in the world who is free wants freedom first of all as a means: he wants freedom in order to give it away.” ~Fulton Sheen
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