"do not be entangled again"
I had another experience today that seemed a good reminder, as the holiday season arrives. I was over at my parents' house, and in their garage, as I was walking to the back door, something green and fluttering caught my eye. When I went to investigate, I found a leaf bug.
He was a beautiful green, and I believe he had just entered the garage, as I'd seen him in the air a minute ago, but now he was on the floor, next to a stack of boxes, and he was caught in a spider's web.
It was obviously an old web. Clearly Charlotte had abandoned this one. It was only partially attached to the box; the rest was hanging free. And the leaf bug's back leg was caught. He was trying to walk away but he couldn't free himself.
My Awesome Girl, torn between her loathing of creepy crawly things, and her compassion for any living creature, went and got a stick, and helped him extricate himself from the web. Then once she had him clinging to the stick, she carried him out to the garden. When we checked back later, he was gone. So, mission accomplished!
So how did this little adventure make me think of the holiday season?
The web. An old web. I think we have those in our lives, and I think they catch us off-guard. And I think one place we are likely to come upon them is in gatherings with family.
You see, our families are the ones who have known us since the beginning. They knew us when we were young and immature. They saw the tantrums and heard the foolish words. They knew us when we wanted to be an astronaut or a ballerina. They might have even laughed at us in the past. So we might hesitate to really be our true selves in front of them. Will we be judged? Will we be misunderstood? Will they make fun of us for who we have become; for how different we are from who we used to be? Afraid of showing them who we have become, we sometimes revert to how we used to act. For some people it may be drinking alcohol, or drinking more than you think you should. For others it might be language or off-color jokes that you no longer feel are appropriate. Sometimes, when we get in the company of people who bring out the worst in us, sure enough, the worst comes out!
You are free. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. Galatians 5:1 says "stand fast, therefore, in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again." As the poor leaf bug was caught in an old web, do not be trapped by the things of old; by who you used to be.
As my children grow, I try to remind them of the pitfalls of peer pressure, one of which is pretending to be something different than who you are, in order to fit in. I tell them, "Be who you are."
But I think that what I want to say to you today; the thing I remind myself is: Be who you have become.
~ "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!" ~
2 Corinthians 5:17