"Your freedom ends where your brother's begins..."
I don't know
how many times I heard my mother say it. I never fully comprehended what
it meant, however, until much later in life; and even then, its fully
meaning wasn't perhaps permanently drilled into my mind until the day we
flew from Guadeloupe to Martinique...
They were all minor things,
really: The Carnaval celebrations that blocked the closest route to the
airport, resulting in us arriving about 30 minutes later than foreseen;
the rental car attendant who was definitely on island time; the fact
that we apparently owed money for damages to our rental car; the shuttle
driver who was also on island time; the fact that he dropped us off at
the wrong terminal; the long line at check in...
commutation was definitely during check-in: We were asked to weight our
carry-on bags. Now I don't know about you, but I've never had
to weigh my carry-on. In fact, I always load my carry-on with all the
heavy items so that my checked bag isn't overweight, and as a result, my
carry-on bag was six kilos overweight!
There was nothing we
could do but repack, and that meant waiting in the long line for the
check-in yet another time. Of course I had originally placed all the
batteries in the carry-on, as per flight regulations; but during the
"repack" process, I was not thinking about flight regulations, and the
heavy batteries all ended up in the luggage to be checked. That meant
that I had to open the checked bags again, find where I had dumped the
batteries, and transfer them back to the carry-on. Of course, this made
the carry-on overweight once again...Sigh...In the end, there was
nothing left in my carry-on but batteries and my laptop, and it was
We did finally get everything shifted,
but my sour mood didn't lift even when we had passed the check-in. You
see, as we went through security, there were many people in line with
large carry-on bags that obviously weighed more than five kilos! And so
I grumbled and complained until my husband suggested that I let it go. I
stopped, but only for a while, and he once again had to suggest that I
let it go. I am ashamed to admit how many times this scenario repeated
itself, but I did notice that each time I started up my complaining, he
seemed to become more tired. In fact, by the time we finally arrived in
Martinique, he was exhausted. It was only later that I realized that it
was my negativity that was pulling him down...
Wait. Didn't I
have a right to complain? And if I can't express my feelings to my
husband, who can I express them to?
"Right" or "wrong", however,
my words were pulling him down, and the only thing that would stop him
from being further hurt was for me to sacrifice my "right" to
complain... Suddenly I understood. My freedom to complain ended where
his freedom to live in peace began...
Jesus asks us to love one
another: "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.
Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." (John 13:34
NLT). This isn't an easy command in the best of times; but it becomes
much harder when "loving" someone else in a way that respects their
wishes means sacrificing my own "rights".
In Canada, I have the
"right" to use either one of the official languages. But what if I
decide to execute this "right" and speak English, when the person I'm
speaking to only speaks French?
Do I not also have the "right"
to feed peanuts to squirrels if I want to? But what if those squirrels
took my peanuts and ate them on the porch of my next door neighbour who
is deathly allergic to peanuts?
And think about this: God has
every right to punish sin and the sinner, and since the wages of sin is
Rom. 6:23), God could -- rightfully
-- strike down every sinner. What if He had executed that right? We
would all be doomed to eternal darkness. Instead, God sent Jesus to be
punished in our place (See
2 Cor. 5:21)...
And let's also remember this from
Jesus' perspective: He had the right to equality with God: "He had
equal status with God..." (Phil. 2:5 MSG). What if He had executed
that "right"? He would never have left Heaven! Instead He,
"...didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the
advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time
came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a
slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an
incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges.
Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless,
obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion."
(Phil. 2:6-8 MSG). If Jesus had executed His right to equality with God,
we would all be doomed to eternal death.
The next time you are
tempted to be upset at someone for interfering with your "rights",
remember to follow God's example, because in a love-dominated world, our
freedom truly ends where another's begins...
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author --
"Aboard God's Train -- A
Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet
Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.