Only when you are somehow inhibited in your ability to be, to act, to live do you realize just how internal freedom really is. Despite being completely restricted from dating and moving on with my life because my husband refuses to divorce me through the Jewish gett, I haven’t felt so free for as long as I remember.
Freedom is a state of our emuna, the ability to know that everything is ultimately for the best. The greater our emuna, the greater our freedom. No one holds our freedom. No government, no religion, and no husband. We are free simply because Hashem exists and because our neshamas are untouchable. In this way no one can take away our freedom.
Be grateful for and focus on what you have. We have plenty, no matter what external forces restrict us. During the holocaust there were those few, despite the horrendous emotional and physical abuse, who knew their neshama, and connected to the ultimate eternal source of life that was a part of them. They were connected to their raw internal essence and this gave them strength.
No matter how abusive those around you become remember that you are ultimately free if your neshama is free. When we look towards the future and know we’re being looked after, even if it hurts or doesn’t match our plans, we are free. Don’t expect to know the future. We don’t. As the old saying goes “we plan and Hashem laughs”. We can only do our best and be our best. The rest is Hashem. Trust His guidance. Change your plans. Keep building with whatever you have.
We should also feel a sense of humility and appreciation to Hashem for there are many who are jailed within their own bodies. They live in the past and build their own emotional steel walls around them, holding on to the negative to justify their actions. Unfortunately it’s often these people that are the captors. Feel the immense internal pain and turmoil they must live with and thank God every day that you are free no matter what the circumstances. There’s a famous story about Natan Sharansky, who was imprisoned for many years by the USSR. He was in isolation and the guards were not allowed to communicate with him, not even laugh. To keep himself sane he played chess with himself and told the guards jokes. He saw how the guards worked so hard not to laugh and he knew that they were the ones imprisoned, not him. If we can’t even laugh at our circumstances we become their victims.
May you have the strength to connect to your emuna despite your circumstances, and the courage to sympathize with those that can’t.