Have you ever felt caged? I have.
Honestly, it’s a familiar feeling to me. I’ve felt caged by commitments, by expectations (mine and others) and by circumstances. The two “cages” I’ve struggled with most frequently are anxiety and depression, and sometimes they’ve felt familiar enough to me that they almost feel like home.
That’s the problem with cages.
Sure, they are restricting. But there’s also an element of safety they provide. So the financial lack is frustrating, but there’s also less risk of making BIG financial mistakes. Expectations might feel constricting, but there’s security in knowing where the boundaries lie. Depression and anxiety feel awful, but there’s also a lot of comfort in feelings that feel so real.
We protect our cages too.
Cages make the world feel safer, more manageable. So we stay in toxic relationships, because the ugly reality feels safer than the great unknown. We risk little and accomplish less, because it’s more manageable than risking (and quite possibly failing) big. We lean towards smaller goals and dreams we can accomplish in our own strength. We make ourselves at home in situations that aren’t right and don’t fit, because the shoes still have some wear in them, and surely the blisters are here to teach us something.
But we were never meant to be caged.
Look at the tiger in the zoo, relentlessly pacing. Sure, it’s safer than the wild. But that’s not freedom.
Look at the man trapped in the daily grind, who knows he was born for something different, but feels it’s too big of a risk to try. There’s safety in security. But that’s not freedom.
Look at the girl who has lost herself in the relationship, who longs for her own voice and wings to fly. It’s so easy to find your identity in the role you play. But that’s not freedom.
Freedom is finding your identity outside of the cage.
Is that why the tiger paces? Why the caged bird still sings? Why we feel such discontent in a life that’s good, but not great? Why it hurts so much to give credence to our dreams?
We too were born for more than this.
I was born for more than this. You were born for more than this. We were born for a great and marvelous destiny, to be more than conquerors, world-changers… Image bearers of the Most High.
And the day we realize this is the day our freedom starts.
The day you realize that you were meant for more than this is the day the prison walls start to rattle. The day you start singing like the songbird you are is the day your cage starts to crumble. The day you look at your circumstances and say this is where I am, but it’s NOT who I am, is the day things start to change.
We all find ourselves caged from time to time.
And it’s easy to see the walls around us and the padlocked door and get discouraged. It’s easy to see the cage and feel like that is what determines our freedom. But it isn’t. Freedom is an inside job. Freedom comes from knowing who you are and Whose you are.
This is why you’ll find me at 6 am on a random Tuesday, blasting worship music loud enough for the neighbors to hear. This is why you’ll hear me singing (over and over!) “Look how He lifted me…” when the last thing I feel in that moment is lifted. When depression and anxiety threaten to drown me, and I desperately take hold of the One in whom there is joy, and peace, and hope.
History is full of cage-breakers.
People who decided to do a victory march before there was even a battle, who built an ark before it rained, who relaxed and feasted in the presence of their enemies. Worshippers, who literally caused earthquakes with their praise. Mighty warriors found in the most unlikely of places.
And I am one of these. And you can be too.