Parson to Person - Unbound and free
In the Bible, Luke 4:16-20 says, “When he (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.”
Sometimes we let ourselves get tied up in emotional knots. Sometimes, because of the knots, we can’t move. Eventually, we quit trying. We become stuck. Sometimes even after the cause of the emotional stress has been removed we still feel tied up and we don’t attempt to venture out.
I read you can chain an elephant so that the animal cannot break free. That is not so surprising. But what may seem surprising is that in time, you could replace the chain with a flimsy rope, which the elephant could break easily. Yet, when the elephant feels the slightest resistance from reaching the end of the rope, it will not even try to break free.
In a laboratory study, behavioral scientists learned that a rat that is repeatedly exposed to a shock will, in time, just lie down and take it. It won’t try to run away, even if the way to escape has now been made available.
In both situations, the animals demonstrated what is called “learned helplessness”. They tried to resist uncomfortable situations at first, yet as time went on, they gave up even trying to change their circumstances for the better. They once tried to force their boundaries, but their experience taught them that there was no point — and so they gave up their fight for freedom--and eventually gave up their freedom without a fight.
The world of the past and sometimes people in our lives have a way of popping up in our minds to remind us of our failures, or ties from which we cannot break. This can create feelings in us that feel like a heavy chain. We feel like we can’t do anything about the past or our current lives. We feel trapped. We succumb to defeat. We fall into learned helplessness. We might say, “this is just the way things are.”
But that is not the way things have to be. According to the wisdom of faith, we are born to be set free, to reach lofty goals, and to strive for something more than helplessness. Give a good yank on the cord of life if you feel stuck. See if it isn’t just a mind trick. Give thanks to God for being free if you don’t feel stuck right now.