Today’s topic is wide and deep. We could get into all the different nooks and crannies of freedom.
What I want to focus on is personal freedom. What is personal freedom? I would posit that this freedom is the ability to do what you want or the freedom to chose. I know that I really enjoy doing my favorite things; watching movies, going to church, hiking with the kids, taking a nice fall drive. I also enjoy things like taking the family out to dinner or ice cream. I enjoy my health and church activity. As a Christian that strives to live the tenants of my faith; I have become free from addiction. I have become free to participate in my faiths most sacred ordinances and live my faith without embarrassment or shame.
As a kid, when this lesson was first taught, I didn’t really get the concepts taught in the lesson and chart from the Latter-day Saint Family Home Evening manual. As I got older, and gained experience I started to understand. When I was a young man, I came across this chart again and it has stuck with me since then. If I wanted to be happy in life and be free from some conditions that come from bad choices I would have to chose not to do somethings.
I realized that if I wanted the maximum control of my life, I needed to avoid some things. That meant not trying certain substances, like alcohol and drugs. I also avoided parties and other activities where those things would most likely be during my high school years. One of the things I saw in high school, there were two kids in my school that were dealing/taking drugs and one ended up in being sent State-side by himself; and the second kids activities got his father demoted and the family was sent State-side and the father had to stay in country. I didn’t like that my actions could impact my family that way and that was another reason to keep my nose clean.
The other thing I learned as a teenager is that if I made good choices my parents and other adults would trust me and I would be given more freedom. I feel my parents did a great job in treating and interacting with us based on our integrity. My brother, Rob, always seemed to have the most freedom because he always acted with integrity and was probably the most obedient son my parents raised. It wasn’t until I was 21 that my parents started treating my like an adult … the truth is it took me that long to start acting like one.
Now, I am trying to teach my kids some of those same lessons. Being active in a church just isn’t enough; parents have to be actively engaged in their kids lives. We try to spend our evenings and weekends with the boys and doing things they like to do. It means that we can have some pretty busy weeks. It also means that they know I am not perfect and that sometimes I make a wrong choice. We want them to learn and gain experience so that they will be prepared to face the world and navigate it as men.
Note: There are 2 types of personal freedom and they are called Freedom From and Freedom To (OR Negative Freedom and Positive Freedom). For a very good in-depth description you can check out The Art of Manliness post.