I was reading the encyclical “The Splendor of the Truth” by Pope John Paul the 2nd, when I came across an amazing statement: that it is by giving ourselves away freely and totally, dedicating ourselves to others, and to something greater than ourselves, that we become free.
This struck me as something beautiful and challenging, the idea that it is in seeking to go beyond ourselves, to reach out to the other, that we find true freedom, rather than by seeking first of all ourselves. It is impossible to possess ourselves completely, to be in control of all things around us, and have things always our way (the dream of children). But it is perhaps possible, with struggle, to let go of ourselves.
If we can give ourselves fully to something we are passionate about–our family, our community, our faith, our work, our art–we can gradually be freed from the entanglements of resentment, bitterness, and self-pity that come from failing to give fully. When we only give half, we feel trapped, because we are still trying to hang on to control, to measure how much we give and make sure we are rewarded.
On the contrary, the person who gives freely, does so because she is inspired to do good; the beauty of goodness urges her on. The reward lies in overcoming herself in order to serve others, not being trapped by her own selfishness but escaping into the beautiful freedom of love, which seeks only to bring joy to others.
It’s a wonderful ideal, which flashed before me this morning like a shooting star…it made me realize that the more fully I give myself, the more I embrace my exact circumstances, the more I rejoice in serving my family, the more free and happy I will be. I guess my whole life will be a climb towards this freedom, an emerging from myself, a lesson in love. Cheers to all my fellow climbers, and to never giving up, despite the struggles of each day.