“Redemption” is a popular word in sports discourse, in the context of which “redemption” seems to mean any success following after any failure. Since life is a continual process of little (and occasionally larger) failures interspersed with little (and occasionally larger) successes, “redemption,” in this sense is a very regular and recurring thing.

"Redemption" is also frequently invoked in popular culture. Six films, starting in 1930, 12 albums from as many bands, and even more single songs, have been titled, “Redemption.”

We speak of redeeming our honor, or reputation – by doing something particularly exemplary or by clearing ourselves of a charge against us. We speak of redeeming a coupon – by exchanging it for a product. You redeem your mortgage by paying it off, redeem your obligations by carrying them out, and redeem your possessions by recovering them.

“Redemption” comes from the Latin, rudimere, "to buy back." We can see that root concept at work in the various current uses of the word. In particular, the original usage primarily meant buying back one’s freedom. Slaves who could manage to raise enough money could buy themselves and become free.

Redemption is about emancipation, regaining our native freedom.

In Jewish theological history, “redemption” centrally refers to God redeeming the Israelites from various exiles: God buys them back and restores them to freedom in their own land, the land promised to them. From this idea of deliverance from exile grew the Christian concept of deliverance from sin.

The questions for us, then, are:
  • In what ways do we find ourselves exiled from the inheritance of joy and belonging that is our birthright? 
  • To what do we find ourselves in bondage? 
  • What is the price to pay for liberation, for return into our own, for realizing ourselves? 
Every reader will have a different way to answer that question. Maybe we feel stuck in a dead-end job. Or in an abusive relationship. Maybe we are entrapped by the detritus of our own material success – bound by our “stuff” and consumed by desires to protect it, maintain it, simply keep up with it all, or, God forbid, get more of it. We may thus be in exile from the life of simplicity and freedom.

One of the key distinctions in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is between “demand” and “request.” The NVC way is to make requests, not demands. The difference has nothing to do with how politely it is expressed. A demand need not carry implicit or explicit threat. The difference between demand and request has to do with how you’ll feel if the answer is “no.” If you can calmly accept not getting what you were requesting, then it was a true request. If you are, at any level, upset by a “no” answer, then you had some “demand energy” in your asking.

Wherever your demand energy is, that’s what you’re having a hard time letting go of.

Whatever you’re having a hard time letting go of, that’s what you’re in bondage to.

The path of redemption, of liberation, is the discipline of freeing yourself from the chains of your own demands.

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