Independence. We celebrated our country’s independence this week. As I sat in my living room chair, I could hear the boom of the fireworks a block away. Flashes of brilliant colors. The sound of sizzle as the burnt embers from the blast barreled towards the ground. It is impossible to watch without singing the Star Spangled Banner! I am so grateful to live in this country. So grateful for the freedoms we have just because we were blessed to be born here. And so, we celebrated those freedoms. This week we celebrated our independence.
Independence is a quality that is highly prized in our culture. We like the freedom to be ourselves. We praise the independent thinkers. We elevate the trailblazers. We thrive on a pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality. If it is meant to be, it is up to me. If I get myself into a mess, I will get myself out. No, Mommy, I do it! (It starts young, but I digress!)
Synonyms for independence from the Merriam-Webster dictionary include self-sufficiency, self-dependence, self-reliance, self-subsistence, self-support. Notice a theme? There is a lot of self in independence! Ah, but this is the stuff I was raised on! I spent much of my adult life thinking like this ~ I don’t need anyone. I will figure it out for myself. Do you need any help? No, I got it, but thanks anyway. And then I hit my bottom.
Maybe you’ve been to this bottom I am talking about. A place so low you don’t even care if your boots have straps. The forest is so thick you can’t begin to even envision a trail out, let alone begin to blaze one. A pit so deep that no amount of self will get you out. Independence is wonderful. It is a blessing. But it has its limits. And it wasn’t how God designed us to live.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
At my bottom, I was pitiable. I came to realize the limits of my own independence and then a wonderful thing happened. I learned to rely on people ~ to rely on friends and family. I learned that when I allowed others to help me in my time of need, I was giving them an opportunity to be a blessing. And blessings beget blessings.
Yes, independence is a wonderful thing, something to be valued and celebrated. But so is inter-dependence. Community. Fellowship. If you fall and call out, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” don’t you want a loving hand to help you? Been there, done that…and take it from me, you do!