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  • Katie Smith

Free time--swapping out prison clothes


For the first time ever, I have all my kids in a regular five hour class--- wait for it---just once a week. While that seems like barely any time to some people, it's an inordinate amount of time to me. I have not had very much personal time over the last ten years. But I also know that the allure of time can do crazy things to our minds.


Free time opens pandora's hypothetical box, causing either anxiety or anarchy. What should I do? How should I proceed? Free time plays the tempter too-- it whispers, this is your moment, you can finally have all you want. You can conquer the world. You can do exactly as you please. But like all gifts, time is a gift that should be opened slowly and held loosely. Do not assume it's yours forever.


With too much time, some people are tempted to scroll, browse, and indulge in ways that define gluttony. The minutes pass by and before long the time ends-- nothing was accomplished, and nothing was gained. Other people over commit their free time. They fill every second with a scheduled event. There is only open space for traffic or unexpected delays-- every other box is checked. These people give themselves a happy pat on the back when their time concludes, but a feeling of exhaustion creeps into their bones.


In the past I'd bounce back and forth between over-committing and under-performing with any amount of free time I had, so this time, I decided to prayerfully wait before committing or concluding my one morning a week. The first day it arrived, I decided to try a dance class (among others things), which was once my favorite pastime. It felt like revisiting an old friend for the first time in a long time.


BUT It didn't take long before I was watching choreography on Youtube, pulling out my old pointe shoes, and mentally rehearsing all I'd have to do to become part of the performance company. In just three weeks, I was sucked into a life that I hadn't thought about in years. I felt like I threw off my prison clothes and exchanged them for a tutu. When I picked up my kids that week though, I was firmly shaken back to a different outfit. These old "prison clothes" looked different though. I like them much more than before.


When you first get married or have kids, there is a level of pushback that occurs. You fight for your freedom, your indepence, or your normal routine like a new prisoner fights for her rights. Eventually you either settle into your cell as a safe, cozy home, or you go insane fighting every prison guard bringing you food. Even though family commitments should NOT be compared to capital punishment, this is how many people feel when their independence changes.


Instead of fighting the guards, why not try embracing your "prison clothes" no matter their style or length of wear? Embrace them as a new season without assumptions. Two biblical scholars, Paul and Silas, actually sang songs of worship when wrongfully imprisoned. After rejoicing in the Lord, their prison doors flew open without their request. They didn't go running out of the cell kissing the ground they missed because they knew God orchestrated their circumstances. So they engaged in their prison moment and a guard and his family were saved in the process.


When you let go of trying to return to the "old you" or running to kiss the ground that was taken from you. You'll discover a deeper intimacy with God that leads to a lasting freedom in all your outfits. The "new you" doesn't see prison clothes anymore. Thus, you sing (and dance) in your cell enjoying every minute of it.


I realized that early on in my decision to be a homemaker, I fought tooth and nail to get enough "me time" to feel whole and relevant. How often do we all fight for this "me" time. Take care of you. You do you. Look out for number one. But as the hard seasons of mothering occured, I was forced to die to myself and my tutu. But once I gave up the fight, I didn't yearn for my pointe shoes anymore. BUT OH HOW QUICKLY I was tempted to return to that prison mindset rather than see this free time as the gift that it was-- a sweet short visit with an old friend.


I can keep on my homemaker hat securely while also embracing the tutu once in a while. Maybe I can go dance in some prison cells this time. Either way, my time, "free" or not, was never mine. When I gave it all up, I gained constant freedom-- my time was bought with a price by Christ, not me. I can only live open-handed with gratitude and follow God's direction any day of the week. It may only last a little while before another door opens anyway. Proclaim, "The Spirit [I] received does not make [me] a slave again to fear; rather, the Spirit [I] received brought about [my] adoption to sonship. And by him [I] cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) Thank you Lord for all my freedom in you.




~Carefully Careless Clothes




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