Exodus to Freedom
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Exodus to FreedomGoodbye ego, welcome spirit!
I am neither a biblical scholar nor a clergyman. I am a psychiatrist—a psychotherapist—and my knowledge of scripture is limited. But when I come upon an extraordinary tale such as the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible, I am trained to seek out its deeper layers of meaning. I can’t help myself. I need to delve beneath the words, to find and grasp the story’s essence. What is it that makes this particular story so meaningful? How does it speak to us? Well, when I read Exodus in this way, what I find there is a handbook for transformational change.
What do I mean by transformational change? Any change that completely alters our sense of self and our place in the universe. We emerge truly a different person. To others we may look the same, but something fundamental within us has shifted. The familiar old worries and preoccupations, the desires and hopes that once held us captive and that still grip those around us, no longer apply. It’s as though we’ve been reborn into a new world . . . and there’s no going back. Not that we would ever want to.
In my psychotherapy practice, I’ve been privileged to help many people make such changes. They’ve come to me enslaved by their own personal versions of Pharaoh and Egypt. They’ve suffered plagues aplenty and run smack up against impossible obstacles like the Red Sea. They’ve wandered lost in the wilderness, confused and unable to find their way. Some have experienced miracles. In a few instances, they’ve made it to the Promised Land or something akin to it—a state of mind so transformed from where they started that they truly are a different person. The issue with which they once struggled is no more. It’s gone, as if it had never existed.
Their journeys have begun in all manner of bondage: horrific childhood abuse; irrational anxiety and paralyzing phobias; depressions that descend like a suffocating cloud to blot out all light and hope; abusive relationships with seemingly no way out; crippling fears about money and survival; and tyrannical, all-consuming addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, and spending.
These individuals are not “crazy.” They are your sister, your father-in-law, your co-worker, the bank teller, the pizza-delivery girl. Their fears are really no different than yours or mine, except that these individuals reached the point where they had no choice but to turn and face them. To go on living, such fears must be faced.
I share their journeys in the pages of my new book, From Plagues to Miracles, to illustrate the larger journey that Exodus portrays, the one we must all eventually make: escaping from the limited, fear-bound ego-mind and reclaiming our true, expansive, spiritual nature. This is the ultimate transformational journey, the one to which all the others are leading. It’s the only journey worth the effort, because it’s the only one truly capable of fulfilling us.
Not all of us, however, are ready or even interested in making such a journey. We’re less concerned with reaching the Promised Land than with paying the bills, getting along with our partners, raising our kids to be decent human beings, and in general contending with all of the stress and anxiety that go with life in the 21st century. Exodus speaks to these concerns as well, because growth in any area of our lives that’s truly transformational—that takes us from bondage to freedom—will follow the pattern set forth in Exodus.
Furthermore, if you genuinely and meaningfully change any one area of your life, then you’ve changed everything. Extricate yourself from a thankless relationship or a punishing job . . . and your life will change. Quit drinking, smoking, or overeating . . . and your sense of self will change. The people with whom you associate will change. The way others see you and respond to you will change. So even though we may not think of ourselves as spiritual seekers en route to the Promised Land, the simple fact that we want to be freer, happier, and more fulfilled sets our feet upon that path.
The journey is never straightforward, however. We encounter obstacles. We find ways to overcome them. We celebrate breakthroughs. We feel like we’re almost there, almost where we want to be—only to discover that we’ve barely begun. Like the lines at the most popular rides at Disney World, we advance slowly, thinking we’re finally getting close, just around the corner . . . only to discover that we’re at the back of another very long line. These stretches of hardship wear us down until we start to feel that we’ll never make it, that it’s just too difficult. Our wounds go deep. And then—surprise! An old conflict comes up to ambush us, only this time it doesn’t really, at least not like it used to. We shake it off, because the truth is, we’ve transformed. And we keep on walking.
Wherever you find yourself in life, whatever challenges you may be facing, the transformational journey of Moses and the Hebrews is your journey, too. The path to freedom calls out. Why wait? And what better time to begin than now?