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The Key to Freedom Is Inside

March 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Interior Freedom (Week 2 of 5)

Under God's gaze, we are delivered from the constraint of having to be “the best” or perpetually having to be “winners.” We have a deep sense of release, because we don't have to make constant efforts to show ourselves in a favorable light or waste energy pretending to be what we are not. We can quite simply be what we are. There is no better form of “relaxation” than to rest like little children in the tenderness of a Father who loves us just as we are.

We find it so difficult to accept our own deficiencies because we imagine they make us unloveable. Since we are defective in this or that aspect, we feel that we do not deserve to be loved. Living under God's gaze makes us realize how mistaken that is. Love is given freely, it's not deserved, and our deficiencies don't prevent God from loving us–just the opposite! Thus we are freed of the terrible, despair-inducing sense that we must become “good enough” to deserve to be loved.

Interior Freedom, Chapter I:2, “Freedom to be sinners, freedom to become saints,” Paragraphs 4-5 (p. 39-40)

The Key to Freedom is Inside

Before this book, I had never heard of Fr. Jacques Philippe. And honestly? I had no desire to read this book.

What the heck is “interior freedom” supposed to mean? I wondered almost out loud. And why do I care?

Don't get me wrong: I do care. Very much. I'm very invested in this whole Catholic thing. And yet…and yet, lately, there's been this sort of “enh” going through me. Maybe it's burnout. Maybe it's weariness. Maybe…well, maybe I just don't know.

I know, I know. There's at least one person reading this who's slapping their forehead.

This section, in particular, made me realize that this book is exactly what I need to be reading right now. As it turns out, this book is articulating things that have been on my heart that I haven't been able to name.

That thing I've been searching for? Its name is interior freedom.

You mean interior freedom is what will get me closer to God? Well…if I'm understanding what I'm reading, then I think the answer's yes. The little girl in me–the one who ran down the driveway after Daddy's truck with her pigtails flying behind her, not wanting him to leave for the parts store without her–is breathing a sigh of relief.

I can stop running. Turns out, he hadn't even started the truck yet.

I've always been one to want to be The Best. (Yes, it is capitalized, just like that.) I want to know the most, be top student, get the gold star. I want to earn Daddy's love, because he won't be able to resist me and how much I know, how good I am, how brightly I shine.

What I realized, reading this, was that I have longed–maybe my whole life–to just relax. To be me, the me He created me to be. Not to have to prove myself, not to have to to do one more thing.

My confessor and spiritual director has been reminding me for quite some time that I'm a human being not a human doing.

“There is no better form of “relaxation” than to rest like little children in the tenderness of a Father who loves us just as we are,” writes Fr. Philippe. Across the room, a small child curls in the crook of my husband's arm. It's an image I cherish, in the seeing and in the experiencing.

Reading Assignment:

Week 3: Pages 60-87

Discussion Questions:

1. If you stopped trying to be “the best” or a “winner,” what could you do to grow spiritually? How might you spend that time with God or give that time and effort to God?

2. When you consider Fr. Philippe's invitation to feel the release of just being what you are, what does that look like? What do you see when you picture yourself resting like a little child in your Father's lap?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Robert Kraus

    I’ve been wrestling with creating more room for silence in my life, trying to cut down on obligations, reduce the amount of time spent with entertainment (TV, Netflix, computer games). I’ve found that there’s a direct correlation with my time invested in entertainment vs time spent actually praying, thinking about God, feeling less stressed and constrained, and relaxed.

    I guess “interior freedom” for me is just not feeling like I have a hundred things to do or that I want to do each day. And that space is sooo peaceful and creates a space for God to enter my life. Even then, those temptations for entertainment still exist and I waver between cutting them out, moderation, addiction, etc.

    Interior freedom is not easy, that’s for sure. This is a good book 🙂

  • Mary L

    My attempts to “earn” love from God (and others) manifests itself in people-pleasing, which, in turn, keeps me from becoming the person that God created me to become. For me, there is a difference between focusing on my deficiencies in order to fix them (on my own) so God and others with love me, and having a true awareness of my sins so that I can present myself to Jesus, the Lover of my Soul, with complete honesty–to rest before Him exactly as I am–and allow Him to do the work of transformation.

  • Michelle

    These past couple of weeks I have been difficult and it really helped me to read that God is realist… He doesn’t love us for what we will become but for who we are now. On Sunday I was on a spiritual retreat and looked back on these two weeks. I found that wherever I was God was there. He was not waiting for me to overcome the difficulties but holding my hand, embracing and loving me through them. I wish I could keep that in mind throughout the day instead of remembering it two weeks later. It would not take the difficulty away but give me greater freedom living it.

  • Charisse

    1. My family’s “expectations”, or what I believed to be were their expectations, hindered me in the sense that if I never achieved them, I wasn’t good enough to be their daughter or a spouse. Finally realizing that I am loved from God just the way I am freed me from unrealistic expectations of the world and just letting God work with what I have, what He’s given me. It’s allowed me to focus more on what He wants and what He can do through me, for myself and others.

    2. I remember the first time I said “yes” to God interiorly (about 6 years ago) and it was for me standing on a precipice of a mountain, looking down into the depths of a valley below, watching a battle between good and evil, of saints and demons and angels. I felt in my heart that I was being asked to join, as I was searching for real purpose in life, and I felt myself unworthy to join such a fight. And yet when I finally decided to jump off the cliff, it was a great moment of release, like I finally let myself be the person I was supposed to become. The more surprising thing was that it wasn’t really me who was doing the battles, but a focus on how God was able to help me get through them, one by one, in every moment of life.

    I knew of another person who saw herself on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, being asked to jump into the depths of the sea, of mercy and forgiveness and peace. Her “yes” was a yes to forgive her past, her sins, her rejecting God for several years.

    I believe it differs for several people, how to view this “yes”.

  • Kerry

    Sarah, I completely empathize with your “enh” feeling… I actually refer to it that way, too! Only I say “meh.” lol I think I am indeed wearied and burned out. Trying to get over it, but it is beyond hard. My energy is spent just getting through each day. I find myself escaping more and more with worthless activities.

    I also feel the same way you do about wanting to be “The Best,” though not lately with my indifference to things. My father was never really a father to me, and that impacts my relationship with God. I always struggle with God as father analogies because of this. My husband is a wonderful father, and seeing him with my daughter has brought some wounds to the surface I was not aware of. I used to not care that my dad was never really part of my life, but seeing my daughter with my husband brings me great sadness over never having that relationship.

  • MarcAlcan

    I am a human being not a human doing

    I have come across this statement years ago at a retreat and I thought this a good statement at that time.
    But since then I have changed my take on this. We are already human beings. We do not need to do anything else to be one. However, an integral part of being human is the doing – the will being put into action. So it is not the doing that is the problem but the intention and the nature of the doing.
    There are times when we need to bask in God’s love. We need after all to recharge. But the doing is extremely important. As St Teresa of Avila said – Christ has no body now but yours. Up and down the centuries – Christians have “done” and will “do” for the kingdom of God. What must be corrected is that idea that we must “do” to “earn” the Love of God. That one is definitely false.
    We Christians “do” for the “love of God” and not to “earn the love of God”.
    And yes, the Father loves us the way we are – but loves us far too much to leave us the way we are . And the transformation from the state “we are” to the state “we ought to be” involves our co-operation – our “doing”.
    Work is transformative – and as we “do” in love, the more we “become” loving. As we “do” the work and will of the Lord, the more transformed we become into the saints that He has called us to be.

    I suppose I could summarize it this way – I know I am loved by the Lord of Heaven and Earth. What now? Now I “do” to make Him known and to make Him loved.

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