I’ll admit it. I was a little jealous as the old sandy-haired fellow said the words. Just a little.
“Both she and I have a little of the gypsy in us, you know.”
I nodded my head thoughtfully, as if I did know, but I didn’t.
I still don’t.
Explaining why he was standing at my sales counter attempting to interest me in several pieces of musical equipment, the fellow had described selling the family’s home and moving into a very nice travel trailer—a rolling palace, really—with all the luxuries of home, but none of the responsibilities of being a homeowner.
I was. I listened to him speak, and I was becoming more jealous by the minute.
There are days when the shackles of responsibility become heavy and irksome. The hardship and realities of life are brought into sharp focus. When that happens, the picture isn’t pleasant to consider.
It was one of those days.
The grass was greener on the other side of the counter. Too soon, the sandy-haired man walked out of my front door, taking the verdant vision with him. Behind him, he left the drab, gray reality.
The freedom he had described beckoned from the world outside. In my world, the cares and promises left to be fulfilled only mocked me.
Don’t I have a right to be happy, too?
The words had no sooner formed in my consciousness than I recoiled from them. There are two times in my memory when I have heard those words from the mouths of men for whom I had great love and respect.
On both occasions, the question was prelude to the most selfish act either man would ever perform. Many who loved them are still paying the price.
When I demand my right to happiness, I declare that I am the most important human being I know.
My sandy-haired friend declared his desire to be footloose and fancy-free. It’s a familiar phrase. I wonder if we really know what it means.
Footloose, of course, means there is nothing restricting our feet from going where we want them to take us. The popular movie by that name from a few decades ago used the word as a clever play on words to include freedom from the restrictions of religion and freedom to dance. No chains, no hobbles, no heavy ball to inhibit movement. Footloose.
Fancy-free is a little more complicated. The word fancy was once used to describe love. The statement, I fancy him, coming from a young girl declared her love for her heartthrob. Thus, fancy-free became the description of one who had no love in his or her heart, giving them the freedom to act as they wished. Free of encumbrances, free of the emotional bonds that bind one to another. Fancy-free.
I am not footloose.
The leg irons clamped around my ankles, I placed there myself. Willingly and with forethought, I clicked them closed, joyfully choosing a life of service rather than one of irresponsibility. Nothing has changed to alter that choice.
The shackles stay.
The love in my heart, on the other hand, was not put there by me. I have been reminded a thousand times in recent years that God’s love is lent to us, not to be hoarded for selfish reasons, nor even to be cast away when we grow weary of walking with Him, but to be shared again and again. And again.
Every hour of every day, His love is ours as long as we share it freely.
I am definitely not fancy-free.
The love stays, as well.
Footloose and fancy-free? Hardly.
Funny. That carefree life I was jealous of only moments ago—that vagabond journey empty of all responsibility—turns out to be neither carefree nor devoid of troubles. Many who choose it wish before much time has passed that they had never walked away from the life they had.
Still, there is a bit of the gypsy in me as well. I’m sure of it.
The journey of the spirit is not bound by our physical location, nor does it depend on leaving behind those we love and care for.
We who follow Christ are still looking for that city that Abraham wandered in search of—that city built by God Himself. Others who came after him sought also for a place of refuge, the place of rest promised to those who seek after God. (Hebrews 11)
In faith, we walk the same road, nomads on a pilgrimage to a better place.
We walk it together. With joy-filled hearts—and often tear-filled eyes—we follow our God.
Together, we follow.
The road goes ever, ever on.
Until, one day. . .
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
(from Lord of the Rings ~ J.R.R. Tolkien)
But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:16 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.