Your Growth Must Lead to Your Freedom

"Expectations" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Expectations” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Probably the best book on marriage is David Schnarch’s, Passionate Marriage (a must read). Here’s just one quote:

“Crucibles are always interlocking. When one partner goes into his crucible, the other partner goes into hers– or gets out of the marriage.”

What this means… and I’ve seen it over and over again… is that if one person commits to their own personal growth and change, the other partner must enter into their own commitment to growth and change. If the partner doesn’t, it inevitably leads to an often irreparable widening of the gap between them. This leads to an emotional separation that will finally manifest in a physical one.

I apply this to any relationship, including yours with the church. Your life task, if you choose to accept it, is to be committed to your own growth and freedom. If your relationship with the church is increasingly strained because of its unwillingness to embrace and make room for your growth, then separation will occur.

The separation will begin inwardly at first. But eventually, if you have an ounce of conviction and a dash of courage, it will begin to manifest outwardly as well.

You must be free, and if your church doesn’t allow it, I recommend separation.

Walk away!

However, be warned! Freedom, I have discovered, is a beautiful but terrible thing.

As Carl Jung said:

“To become acquainted with oneself is a terrible shock. It’s hard admitting that our lives are full of error and self-deception. But this very admission, though painful, makes possible its opposite– a differentiated life, lived with integrity. Tears of recognition and relief often flow with the dawn of self-awareness. But while the truth will set you free, remember the psychologist Erich Fromm’s observation of humankind’s attempt to escape from such freedom. The truth is liberating– but only when you have the courage to live it.”

Although your freedom is urgent and necessary. don’t take it lightly.

Perhaps you know an ex-convict… someone who has lived many years in prison. At least you’ve seen it in a movie or read about it in a book. Their transition into the real world is traumatic and sometimes impossible. This is why there are organizations that assist these people and help them integrate into life on the outside.

So your fight for your own personal freedom is twofold:

You have to fight to get it.

You have to fight to keep it.

But it is always worth it.


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7 Responses

  1. David Waters says:

    Healthy relationships allow each other space to grow in their own direction without experiencing any separation within the relationship. My relationship to me, my inner growth does not change the relationship to my spouse.

  2. Hm I’m not sure how that’s possible. When I change, it forces change around me. When my wife changes, so must I in some way to make room for her change.

  3. Caryn LeMur says:

    David Hayward: I think what David Waters has said is very possible.

    Think of marriages in a tight orbit, and then marriages in a loose orbit. This is what Schnarch was describing – the early form of marriage must evolve for both partners into the later (more freeing) form.

    If Bonnie (my wife) wished to attend a church, I might go or not. We believe our relationship does not change when she attends or does not attend. However, years ago, her attending would have been incredibly painful for me.

    So, in some couples, the ‘room for change’ is already in place. Her change is not threatening… and may require no change of my own (other than sleeping in).

  4. I think I misunderstood. Yes, this makes sense. Of course. We would agree that to get to that point took an incredible amount of crucible work on both sides and on the relationship.

  5. Caryn LeMur says:

    Yes, as offered by Schnarch, the crucible must happen for both partners… when one goes into the crucible, then both are drug into the crucible ….and both will change.

    It is possible that a looser orbit can happen with each member standing strong.

    It is also possible that the marriage will end.

    Let’s discuss your quote, “…remember the psychologist Erich Fromm’s observation of humankind’s attempt to escape from such freedom. The truth is liberating– but only when you have the courage to live it.”

    Humans tend to escape FROM freedom.

    But why? What is there about us (the humans) that find comfort in confessions, pews, going to a church, choirs, hymns, and other such group-think gatherings?

  6. Caryn LeMur says: