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I heard a thought provoking sermon on Easter about how many of us are locked in our own personal prisons. Some of us are trapped in addictions, abusive relationships, or we might be paralyzed by anxiety. Not only that – we prefer confinement to the uncertainty of freedom.

The minister didn’t mention the prison life of filling out an NCAA bracket every year, only to have it look ridiculous after the first round. He talked about the ancient Israelites, instead. They grumbled about returning to slavery in Egypt, rather than facing the uncertainty of the Promised Land. They were also tired of having manna on the menu every day and their feet were killing them.

I know what it’s like to struggle with addictions. I’m hooked on Scrabble, powerless over the piano and, this time of year, I’ve got a basketball Jones. I have a dysfunctional relationship with the dog and prescription commercials make me anxious when they recite all the side effects.

I’m also locked in a physical prison, in the form of a walking boot for my fractured fibula. It’s exhausting to lug this thing around. The only payback for wearing it is finding fresh sources of sympathy.

The sermon inspired me, though. And I thought there’s no better day to rise up from a personal prison than Easter. So, I put on a normal boot and tried to walk like a regular person again. I was inspired by a character in one of my favorite movies: A soldier who gets shot in the right ankle. Despite the pain, he tightens up the laces on his boot and keeps marching to complete the mission.

Walking was painful at first but that’s the thing about escaping from a personal prison. Even making positive changes can hurt. Because no matter how bad our situation is, it still has the comfort of familiarity. It reminds me of what George Carlin said about addicts. Most people don’t know what’s going to happen next in their lives but a junkie knows exactly what’s going to happen next.

That’s what’s comforting about a personal prison – we get to be the warden and have control over our cell block. However, there is a better way to live life than voluntary solitary confinement. We can break out of debilitating patterns. We can start doing more for others. We can celebrate spring by starving our addictions, disentangling ourselves from abusive relationships and not becoming anxious about circumstances we can’t control.

As for me, I’m going to avoid watching commercials for prescriptions, repair my relationship with the dog and, from now on, I’m filling out my NCAA bracket in pencil.