“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – Jn. 8:31

“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” This quote is inscribed above the entrance to the main building at the college I attended. As a newly independent 18-year-old, my quasi-rebellious interpretation of this was, “The truth is that I am free is do whatever and whenever I want now.” However, like the building, the verse was etched within me during that first encounter and has both haunted and provided me solace ever since.

There are times in which I wonder how I am being enslaved: willfully or forced upon, knowingly or ignorant, with resignation or resistance. There are those voices in society that tells me that my worth is measured by how successful I am, how many friends I have, how many “likes” I can garner. Succumbing to those voices enslaves me and limits my freedom to discover who I really am outside of the opinions of those who conditionally regard me.

Then there are the vices and addictions that fall within the spectrum of my awareness and my willingness to address them. Gerald May defines addictions as anything that limits freedom and the human spirit. For example, I can easily indulge in binge watching TV and notice how in the end, it did not bring me life but rather becomes something I need to complete before I am free to get on with my real life.

However, for me the most insidious way in which I am a slave is my tendency to subscribe to a self-image that I am not enough. I am not smart enough, talented enough, desirable enough, holy enough, etc. This pattern of thinking pushes me to live with fear, experiencing moments in life either as a threat or at best, something that should be seen with suspicion. Instead of seeing the miracle of the present moment, I question why I should experience such goodness because I am inadequate in some way.

With so many ways in which I am possibly enslaved (and undoubtedly ways that are beyond my awareness), what hope do I have to live with freedom? I am brought back to the verse that has given me comfort when I feel bound. When I bind myself to the truth that I am God’s beloved and all the graces that accompanies that realization, then I am set free…free from the need of social acceptance, free from being a slave to my attachments, free from my self-preoccupation. The peace that Jesus offers is one that transcends the limitations of this world and provides a freedom that glimpses what is to come.

In what ways am I enslaved?
Lord Jesus, embrace me tightly that I may live out the freedom and peace you offer.

Michael Jamnongjit