A man sits at a table. In front of him is a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of water. If he picked up the whiskey and took a drink, you might say that he “chose” the whiskey over the water.
But inside that man is a very different story. As an alcoholic, there was no choice for this man to make. There was no freedom to choose differently. There was only the whiskey.
And so it goes for us. Except instead of being enslaved by alcohol, we are enslaved by our wants.
We are not as free as we’d like to think.
Sure, our days appear to be made up of all kinds of choices. And we like to think that we are freely making these choices. After all, we can generally do whatever we want.
But freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the ability to say no to what you want. Only when you are able to say no to what you want, are you then truly free to serve others most perfectly and completely. We are called to a life of radical service. You were made to serve others with all that you are, not just most of who you are. 100% of everything you do should be for others.
Now this doesn’t mean you don’t spend any time taking care of yourself. You must do that to be able to serve others in the first place. But there’s the point. Are you taking care of yourself to serve others? Or are you taking care of yourself for yourself?
What is the cost of true freedom?
We all like to feel like we’re “good” people. Maybe you spend 10% of your time serving others each week. Maybe you spend 50%. Maybe you spend 90% or 99%! That’s great. But it’s not enough.
Whether a bird is restrained by ninety-nine chains or one, she still cannot fly free.
If you hold back even one small strand of your life for yourself, you have missed your potential completely. You were not made to be restrained — not even a little — by your wants. You were made to fly free. You were made to fly to an Other.
Hold nothing back for yourself. This is the cost of living a life fully alive and it is the only true freedom.