Do we ever stop to look at the cages we put ourselves in? Cages of family, friends, work, leisure, and religion; cages we build based on our understanding of these areas of life and what they entail. We try and create spaces where we can safely live out our assumed expectations; spaces where we can keep out the uncertainty and retain authenticity.
Here we become like zoo animals in a sense. Wild exotic creatures who were meant to roam and enjoy the earth God created who now have to settle for a limited artificial environment. In captivity these animals are unable to develop properly on all levels. They do not have the opportunity to learn social structures and habits such as nurturing and hunting. They become dependent on human ways to now meet their needs. This lack of natural development also causes animals in captivity to suffer from boredom, lack of exercise, and poor-quality food. Furthermore, being deprived of their natural environment and social interactions, animals in captivity often divert their energies and anxieties into stereotypical behaviors that are not at all evident in the animals in the wild. Examples of such behavior are bar biting, excessive grooming, pacing, and vomiting.
Our artificial environments of expectations stem from the way we perceive our experiences in life. We are held captive by our thoughts- the way we were and are being conditioned to understand the world around us. We become limited by the ways of thinking that we are exposed to and choose to accept. Furthermore, the ways of thinking that we choose to accept don’t always equip us with what we need to make sense of some of the things that happen to us in life, so we become dependent upon emotions and how things make us feel. We depend upon emotions because we feel as if we have control over them, but they can lead us to adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and so on (Gal. 5: 19-21).
Let us ponder theses verses as we strive to break free of our captivity:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” – 2 Peter 2:18-22