I was with a person the other night and we ended up walking past a bar where music was raving and he looks over and says, “I wish I could go inside”. Me, being me, says that I don’t understand how that is fun. How surrendering yourself to drugs and alcohol, drowning any voice of reason with blasting music and having drunk conversations with anyone would be fun. They replied its fun because you can let loose and relax. I respond is it really fun, you have no control of yourself and when you come home don’t you feel empty and alone? He responds that whenever he comes home he is alone. I say yes, but there are other things that can make you feel you have a purpose. He responds yeah but it’s fun.
Now I love this person, and he could be the voice of the common secularized college student, but I think that in this instance they are missing the point. They are confusing freedom with carelessness. Freedom means I have the ability to choose, it means having foresight, and being able to sit in stillness and be completely content with yourself and your decision. True freedom leads to peace. St. Ignatius of Loyal has 14 rules for discerning spirits and although they are called rules, after studying them true freedom is revealed because through these rules eyes are open, we become aware and informed and can direct ourselves to that place where we are at peace.
My friends choice to go to a bar surrender their freedom to substance all in the name of fun may have felt invigorating in the moment, but filling yourself with chaos never brings peace. And is it really fun, or just ignoring responsibility, ignoring the things that are hard to face but matter the most? Those dragons that keep us entrapped in ourselves that if we had the courage to face, we would actually be free even though they would require struggle, patience, training and even bloodshed. After we slay the dragon however, we can actually come out of the castle of the world that promises freedom in the wonder of its halls, but is actually a prison that keeps you enslaved from the really living.
When in our lives did we have the most fun? I would say when I was little. Isn’t this the time when we also have the most restrictions or rules in place by our parents. But it is in these rules where we find true freedom. It is actually because of these rules that we can feel at peace that we feel taken care of, and then we can run, jump, discover, and create. When we were little, the world was our playground, the simplest things would make us laugh and cry, we were completely free because we surrendered to someone who loved us not something that would leave us empty.
So that was me ranting, but it is so important that we don’t settle for the lies of the world, but we face those dragons and say no! I will not settle for this lie, I will not let the easy way that leads to emptiness be my quest in life, but I will be fulfilled. I will be free and at peace. And you know what? I will have more “fun” then you could ever imagine because I will be in the Father’s arms. I will laugh, I will cry, I will breathe in the air of freedom and see the world not from the castle window but be able to step out into the air because I will have slain the dragon with His help. I will look to the stars and cry at their beauty, I will be able to dance in the sunlight and sing with the birds. And although it won’t be easy all the times, those moments of joy, of Eucharist, will sustain me. So you can have your bars and loud music, but I will have something better and you know what? You can have it too you just have to be willing to stop settling for the false illusions of your castle, come out slay the dragon and breath in the air of freedom!