I heard a phrase this week, “Freedom is when you become unshackled from other people’s expectations.” It struck me in a profound way. How many of us allow what other people think of us to influence the choices we make? We become afraid to do the things we want to because of how people will react. We base our decisions on pleasing others rather than on what is right for us.
If our main focus is on what other people think, we will always put our dream/passion on hold to help them fulfill theirs. We may tentatively talk about what we would like to do “one day” only to have others tell us all the reasons it won’t work. They may have their own dreams that they’re too afraid to pursue and so they try to keep us from doing anything about ours. If all the reasons they give are rooted in their own fears, then refuse to own them!
This is especially important to keep in mind if what you want to do is not easily understood or seems too big of a risk. Is it really important to you? Is it something you believe in with your whole heart? Why do you want to do it? Will you have the courage to continue even if only a few support your decision? Do you have an answer for those who will try to tear you down? If not doing it will make you feel worse than doing it in the face of opposition, ask God to give you wisdom…and do it!
Doing things for other people’s approval causes anxiety, fear, and indecision. By pleasing one person we may be disappointing someone else…so we try to walk the fine line to keep them both happy. All the while, we’re becoming more insecure and unhappy. When it’s all said and done, we have not really helped those we are trying to please, but have held them back from facing their own lack of direction.
It takes strength to say no to what is not right for you. It requires clarity to ask for what you need or want. It takes courage to start doing what you love, not knowing if you will succeed or fail. But your very breath depends on it…and pushes you forward. This is when you know that you have to follow that path because it leads to life.
Leaving behind your doubts and fears, and those of others, will take a leap of faith…out of the familiar into the unknown. The first step, even if it’s small, will feel like you’ve leapt off a cliff’s edge. You will actually discover a solid landing, which will give you the confidence to move on to the next step and the next. Gradually it will become easier and soon you will realize that you have released yourself to live in unshackled freedom.