What does it mean to be free?
And further, what does it mean to live free?
I was pondering these questions recently after a conversation with my husband. For the past few months, he and I have been watching One Piece. I came in prepared to laugh and enjoy this thrilling pirate adventure, but I had no idea it would be so inspiring to me as a Christian.
I remember the night I saw the first episode. I sat on my couch holding my legs up to my chest, eyes filled with awe and wonder that Luffy would be so driven and almost “careless” in his quest to become King of the Pirates. As I saw his journey unfold to accomplish his quest, in the deep recesses of my heart, I thought, “I wish I could be like Luffy.”
The only person I voiced that to at the time was Jesus because as someone who is probably too fond of putting labels on things (and myself), and then placing those same “things” (and myself) in boxes, it seemed almost preposterous to me to even think I could ever be like Luffy.
Up to this point, I’d always felt like life is significantly easier and less complicated when I label and organize who I am and what I do. I’m realizing, however, that it’s really not true anymore—and maybe never was.
What sparked the opening questions for this post is when my husband was explaining to me that the one who is “most free” gets to be King of the Pirates in One Piece. And for some reason, those words—most free—latched onto my heart and mind. I felt them digging up the ideals I had about labels and boxes, because as a Christian, shouldn’t I be one among many who can say they are the “most free?”
When I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, He freed me from a life of bondage that was wrapped in hate, anger, and bitterness. He gave me a new heart, a new belief that those things did not need to rule my over me like they did before I knew Him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
—2 Corinthians 5:17
So where does my supposed fondness for labels and boxes fit in with that truth?
Well, they don’t.
They simply can’t, and I feel that Luffy’s quest reflects that belief.
Yes, he’s definitely impulsive (and sometimes at the wrong moments), but his recklessness comes with a purpose. He won’t take no for an answer or hold back when he sees injustice occurring, regardless of the personal stakes that may lie ahead.
On the flip side, he does think of the protection of his crew, the Straw Hats, but they also are moved and driven by Luffy’s desire to “right the wrongs” others have done with less than thoughtful intentions. Plus, once Luffy sets his mind on something, there is no turning back; even if reluctant to do so, they follow him.
These revelations knocked on my heart’s door as I was driving to the library one morning. Though I’m no pirate, I believe there is a longing in each of us to be truly free, to take to the seas, so to speak, and pursue an adventure where regardless of the outcome, we laugh in the face of adversity because we know our purpose, our calling.
For some strange reason, I felt maybe this was only accomplished through fictional means. That outside of One Piece and the Straw Hats, maybe it was something I couldn’t actually achieve in my own personal life. The incredible thing, I can do this. That day I said yes to Jesus didn’t mean my adventure would ever be easy or that I wouldn’t be in battles that would try and break my spirit. It just meant that I need to be confident in my faith, hope, and love for Jesus, and to live boldly and without fear of tomorrow.
I can live free in my life today, and not just when I’m watching an anime, reading a manga, or consuming some other form of entertainment that moves me on a heart level.
No more labels. No more boxes.
Just absolute freedom through a Savior who invites us to trust Him on one of the most rewarding, dangerous, and thrilling adventures we will ever embark on. He is our compass in the uncharted waters that lie ahead, our guide in the storm when we can’t see, and our ultimate King who extends freedom to all.
Yes, I admire Luffy and hope that my non-teenage self can be like him when I “grow up,” but even deeper than that, I hope I can adopt a lifestyle of bravery like he has in the now, one that is passionate, excited, and hungry for a bold future.
After all, Jeremiah tells us that God already knows the plans and future He has for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
And if that is my outcome, I think it’s time for me to toss my fears overboard and laugh in the face of the unknown and charge ahead with open sails.
Will you join me in throwing your fears overboard, too?