If I'm so Free

How Come I feel Boxed In?

© 1978  Dennis Guernsey

Word Books, Waco, Texas

All Rights Reserved


1. Liberty — Religious aspects — Christianity . 2. Christian life 
BV4501.2 .G833 ~~ 248/.4 ~~ LCCN: 77092449 ~~ OCLC: 3934080 ~~ 160p.

If I'm So Free How Come I feel Boxed In? by Dennis Guernsey is presently held by 50 libraries including Multnomah University and The Library of Congress.

Table of Contents

Preface          ix

1. Free to Love Yourself       13

2. Free to Serve One Another          35

3. Free to Fail          59

4. Free to Be Angry          77

5. Free to Be Responsible for Yourself          109

6. Free to Be Demonstrative          129

7. Free to Be Free          141


   Several years ago in graduate school I became fascinated with the emerging ideas of self-concept and self-image. I remember driving home on the freeway with my mind traveling even faster as I meditated upon the implications of what I had just heard that day about human personality. Even more vividly, I remember thinking how important it would be for the body of Christ to be exposed to the same information. I covenanted with myself to write a book about the subject as soon as I found time. Quite to my surprise, within a few months I saw "my book" advertised in a Christian periodical under someone else's name and under another title! I couldn't believe my eyes. The author had written exactly the book I wanted to write. He had beat me to the punch. "Oh, well," I rationalized, "I'll just have to write about something else."

   My next area of inspiration was the Christian family. I had dedicated myself to the task of studying the Christian family, and I was sure I had found my niche. No sooner had I settled into my doctoral studies on the family when hundreds of books about the Christian family began to tumble off the printing presses. The Christian world was deluged with material on the very

Page x

topic I had committed myself to study. I was a day late and a dollar short again.

   When I finally found time to write my first book, Thoroughly Married, published by Word Books, I was sure its subject matter would be pristine in the sense that very few Christian books had dealt with the subject of sexuality in Christian marriage. It shouldn't have surprised me, but no sooner was my first book off the presses than it was joined on the shelves of bookstores by a score of books with similar emphasis. I was no longer behind the times — I was running neck and neck.

   As for the book now before you, I have allowed myself no illusions whatsoever. I fully expect it to be met on the shelves of Christian bookstores with fellow titles designed to speak to the same issue of Christian freedom. Why? Because every age has its "catch words" and the idea of "freedom" is a word that has reached its time. The Germans have a concept that roughly translates into the "spirit of the times." It means that certain ideas seem to wrap up the concerns and thinking of an age better than others. The spirit of the time involves what catches the attention of the authors and readers of a given generation. The idea of "freedom" is just such a word. It is an idea that seems to hover above most of our lives, just out of reach. I am convinced it was an idea that filled the minds of the first century Christians as well. What does it mean to be free? How does one gain that inner sense of personal freedom for which we all seem to hunger?

   At this juncture it's appropriate to mention the real    

Page xi

heroes of this book. Its pages are filled with the experiences of many who have become my dearest and closest friends, friends who have journeyed with me in the search for the freedom that Jesus gives. I hope I have been able to mask and mute the specifics of the case histories involved. Usually I have combined several similar cases into one in the hope that anonymity will be preserved. If my patients or my friends recognize themselves it is because their struggles have been so much a part of mine. Much of the time they have been my teachers. Their experiences with the attending pain and struggle have forced me to reevaluate my thinking, my ministry, and in many cases, my life itself. I am deeply appreciative of their patience and perseverance.

   Jesus said as a part of the spirit of his time, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). What concerned him then concerns many of us today. We thirst for a taste of the freedom he offered but in searching we sometimes miss, only to go on searching. This book is simply meant to help those of us who are searching to be free. In Christ we are meant to be "free indeed." The question then comes, "If I'm so free, how come I feel boxed in?"

Begin Reading at Chapter One

To Sherly and Shannon

It is a delight to be their father

and their zest for life is my clearest example

of what it really means to be free.

*     *     *     *     *

DENNIS GUERNSEY was executive director of Family Ministries in Whittier, California. He received the B.A. from Biola College, the Th. M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, the M.A. from North Texas State, and the Ph. D. from the University of Southern California.

   Dr. Guernsey, a licensed marriage and family counselor, worked with families since 1966 when, he says, "God touched my life and called me to be a missionary to the family." He is also the author of The Family Covenant : Love and Forgiveness in the Christian Home.

   Dennis and his wife, Lucy (as co-therapist), developed a specialty in counseling couples having sexual dysfunction. They have two daughters: Sheryl and Shannon.

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