Firstly, this is not an article about mental health. Please see a professional if you think you're suffering from mental health issues.
Lately I feel trapped, yet ironically, I have so much freedom.
I have a car that can take me to places,
I have free time to go out and see people,
But I feel trapped.
Have you ever felt the same?
No one and nothing are stopping us but it feels like we're trapped in a prison.
When I was in lockdown, I shifted my expectations.
I told myself that I'll be physically stuck at home for quite some time but I'll allow my mind to wander, explore and express itself creatively.
It felt easier when I was physically trapped.
Now that I'm out and about, I struggle to find peace. I worry about my future. Time is moving but I feel like I'm at a standstill.
Focus less on our current circumstances
The Apostle Paul once said:
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians chapter 4 verses 12 and 13)
Often it's the circumstances we're in that affects how we see ourselves and our outlook in life. If we're stuck in a miserable job, a loveless marriage, or we're dealing with rebellious children, our world shrinks to focussing on everything that's wrong. We want to instantly find ways to solve our problems and overcome our challenges. We don't even allow time to sit in the moment of our frustrations, misery, loneliness or sadness.
We are problem-solving people. We are fixers. We are doers.
I don't think those things are necessarily wrong but we've become so focussed on changing our circumstances, rather than changing who we are to deal with what's in front of us. We've become 'reactive' people to our circumstances that often we have no control over. We flee our pain rather than walking through it with God.
Focus more on how we respond to our circumstances
We may feel trapped when we can't accept the circumstances that we're in. We are 'trapped' in our circumstances that we can't change.
But Paul tells us that he's found the secret to being content in any situation he finds himself in. The secret - and as his letter to the Philippians shows us this - is the joy of knowing the Lord.
In our miserable jobs, God shows us a deeper passion and fulfilment that our careers alone cannot satisfy.
In our loveless marriages, God shows us the depth of unconditional love that is life-giving and joy-filled.
In raising rebellious children, God shows us how far and wide grace, mercy and compassion goes.
We may feel trapped but we will surprisingly find new freedom as we move deeper and deeper in knowing God. Perhaps it's God's infinite nature that allows our hearts and minds to go further with him.
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com