Fourth of July fireworks and patriotic songs remind us we live in the land of the free. Are we living free?
And what does it mean to "live free," anyhow?
You may remember Nick Charles, the popular and much-acclaimed CNN sports anchor who died of cancer in 2011. Listen to what he told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta not long before he died.
"I'm a forward-looking person but also a living-in-the-moment person So I wake up every day expecting to have a good day. It may sound trite, Sanjay, but life as you get older is about 20 percent of what happens to you and about 80 percent how you react to it.
You've probably heard that said before. I have, too, but never with more power.
Nick Charles said it when he was close to death--and knew it
Whether he was a Christian I don't know, but he spoke truth. How we react to what happens to us determines our lives.
How we react depends on what's inside us, in the core of our being. That's what drives us.
I didn't really grasp that until I read an old book, Man's Search for Meaning, by the late Viktor Frankl, M.D., Ph.D.
Before World War II, Frankl, his wife and his parents lived the good life in Vienna. Then the Nazis invaded Austria. Like almost six million other Jews, they were sent to a Nazi concentration camp and separated. Frankl never saw any of them again.
Right away the Nazis had taken Viktor Frankl's possessions. Then the guards took his wedding ring. At losing that last, most precious reminder of his "before" life, he thought for awhile he could not go on.
Then a light bulb went on in his mind, a gift from God. From that moment on, Viktor Frankl knew he would survive Auschwitz.
A great truth came clear to the prisoner
Frankl realized no matter how the cruel guards mistreated him, he alone possessed--and would possess as long as he breathed--power to control his thoughts.
Here's how he summed it up.
"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
Viktor Frankl in a death camp. Nick Charles close to death from cancer. Both of them in crisis mode and both expressed the same point:
We can't control everything in our lives, but we do control what we think about it.
What we think about the circumstances of our lives dictates how we respond to what comes our way and to the people in our lives.
Those men may not have realized it, but the Bible said it first
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. --Isaiah 26:3 ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. --2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
It's our choice
We hang the labels on what happens to us.
We choose to park our minds in a lousy place or in a good place.
We decide how we will respond to what comes into our lives and to the people in our lives.
Whether you're young or old, rich or poor, in or out of crisis, to know this can change your life.
As Viktor Frankl put it, it's the one freedom no one can take from us. The way to "live free," no matter what.
Still learning, too--over and over,
If this spoke to your heart, won't you share how, using the comments section?