INdependence

Here we are approaching Independence Day, and, appropriately, my life has come around again to the theme of independence which I wrote about in last year’s Christmas letter.  I have found that much like a spiral staircase, I revisit previous life lessons all the time, learning more the second or third time around.

Independence is highly valued not only in our country’s international relations but in our own personal lives.  As a woman, this ability to be financially and socially independent is a relatively new phenomenon.  Thus, I dare say, many of us who have attained this celebrated goal are apt to take pride in it and hold onto it for security.  Now, unlike others in this pool, I did not set independence as a life goal from my childhood.  Rather, it was a consolation prize after the more desirable marriage and motherhood goals were not readily attainable.  Perhaps it is for this reason that, strangely enough, I have found myself quite attached to my ability to be independent.

To those that criticize women for insisting to men that they can open the door themselves, thank you, I want to offer a personal insight.  I think it is kind for anyone to help anyone regardless of gender.  If a man is carrying a box, I am apt to hold the door for him rather than expect him to still manage to get it for himself and me.  However, in an instance when getting my own door is not a difficulty for me, I do feel threatened in a small way by a man insisting on getting it for me.  Although seemingly unreasonable to that man, his insistence makes my sense of self-sufficiency diminish.  I am not saying it should, nor am I implying that I should refuse the kind gesture.  My point is that I, as a human, have been disappointed, hurt, and abandoned by others, and, as a result, naturally resolve that the only person on whom I can always depend not to fail or hurt me is myself.  If that ability to protect and care for myself is threatened, I am left with not a soul to rely on, so how dare you make any suggestion otherwise! Now, I know that is a lie.  Don’t worry, I am not saying that is a healthy or right response, but it’s my gut reaction.

I know this lie to be false. I have a wonderful family which is often there for me and certainly will be there for me should I direly need them.  As a Christian, this is also a lie because God is dependable and always present with me, not to mention my friends and the church that surround me. However, most of the time, especially recently, this reality has been clouded by that lie because my feelings and thoughts profess the lie to be true.

My facade of always doing well, being strong and capable of providing for myself, and being the stronghold for others has cracked.  The lie of it being me against the world has worn my strength down to nothing.  The last thing I had of my own to hold onto is gone.  I am weak.  I am broken, and I still feel the lie that I can only rely on myself to be true–so now that I am not self-sufficient and strong, I am hopeless.

Hopeless.  Well on my own, I was always hopeless.  I was never good enough for anyone to love me.  I am never going to be either.  It’s tough to swallow, but that’s why Jesus came, right?  That’s why I believe in his saving work, because mine would never be enough.  So here I am relearning the gospel I first believed twenty years ago.

Paul wrote, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Many times in my early faith I wondered at this paradox.  For when I am weak, he is strong.  When I acknowledge my weakness, I recognize and need his strength to strengthen me.  However, I am not strong yet.  I am still weak.  I am in the water with Peter, except that I didn’t decide to get out of the boat.  It sunk beneath me. Now I am in a deciding place. Do I keep believing the lie that I am only able depend on myself and drown because I have failed myself, or do I decide to believe that I can depend on Jesus, my God, and let him not just keep my head above the water but put my feet upon it?  I feel one way, but I want the other.

O Lord, I believe, help my disbelief.

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One thought on “INdependence

  1. A few comments:

    “Independence is highly valued not only in our country’s international relations but in our own personal lives.”

    >Yes. Independence from government, not from our loved ones (i.e. God, Family, etc.)
    >We fail, because of what we’re enslaved to. I gave a 30-minute speech a year ago which I’ve summarized below:

    “Thomas Paine once wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls”. I believe we are all slaves. It’s what we are enslaved to that makes us free. For liberty without morality is the worst kind of slavery. This liberty is nothing but toxic to our soul. It leads us to a false happiness, one that is short-lived and has us asking for more. It is nothing, but rotten fruit. Liberty, with morality, is what enables us to obtain true happiness. It is the truth that Americans triumph, a truth that makes us great. If we are to be free of government, we must be held accountable to a higher being. When that being becomes, government, we will no longer be America the Beautiful. I grew up learning that there is only one truth. No man or woman may create their own truth. We must seek it, embrace it, and it shall unveil our eyes and hearts to a life of prosperity. Blood, sweat, and tears made our country strong and dignified. In life, we will face many trials and tribulations and we will endure pain. We will weep for those who pass away, sweat to earn a better living for our posterity, and bleed to defend our natural-born rights. Remember, to live is to be enslaved. What will you be enslaved to? Will you be enslaved to your morals, values, your family? or will you be enslaved to government and strangers you call friends? So if your soul is tried and you’ve had enough, then choose liberty and break free of the cuffs.”

    “Do I keep believing the lie that I am only able depend on myself and drown because I have failed myself, or do I decide to believe that I can depend on Jesus, my God, and let him not just keep my head above the water but put my feet upon it?”

    >I’ll admit my faith has wavered from time to time. Just yesterday I got emotional about a part of my life I was leading, a part I deemed a failure. But then I realized something. I have family, friends, and other loved ones who have invested so much time and energy in me, people who believe in me and you know what? That makes life a lot easier to live. People say to live is to suffer. I believe that is a choice we make. I’ve chosen to better myself to better others and I believe with all my heart that I’m doing the work of God.

    What I’m about to say next is going to be controversial, but heck that’s who I am. I know we are surrounded with people who are all “high on God”. They proclaim “hallelujah” with their tongues, but they don’t have him in their hearts. They go to Church because they feel “it’s the right thing to do”. Yes, going to Church is good. I’ve met beautiful people at Church and I’ve solidified some spiritual knowledge I’ve obtained through the teachings of my parents and my own experiences, but what or who is the Church?

    The answer? We are. We are the Church and we are married to Christ. We are told to be submissive to Christ as recognition of his sacrifice for us. Am I submissive? Yes. Have I always been? No. But I’m bettering myself and God knows that.

    My best friend struggled a lot with his belief in Christ, because he over-analyzed it. He tried to be perfect and that was his fault. We’re not perfect and it wasn’t until I accepted that fact that I realized the simplest fact of Christianity: salvation is free, accept him.

    Everything else we do in life is to spiritually grow. I’m not a saint. Nor was Jesus’ disciples, but we can’t be ourselves over every mistake we make and call it failure. It’s human.

    Meeting you was one of the best experiences of my life. You’re a beautiful person who taught me to always “Keep Positive” in the wake of life’s troubles. I view these troubles as gifts, because they are obstacles that when overcome will make us stronger.

    I remember you telling me your favorite book in the Bible is Titus. This was maybe 6 years ago. I can’t look up the exact quote (since I’m on my cell and I’m really bad with multitasking on cellphones but it went something like this: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. Sometimes we spent too much time looking for that “blessed hope” when we’ve had it all along.

    Conclusion: (on Independence):

    If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. That’s why we need our Independence from an oppressive federal government .

    Conclusion: (“Do I keep believing the lie…”):

    Food for thought:

    As soon as we give up self esteem, we also give up many of our limitations. As soon as we stop having faith in ourselves and start having faith in what God can do through us, our faith is no longer restrained by things we’re no good at. Now, God’s not going to make you a star athlete or a star student. But you never know what God will do with someone whose faith is too big to just believe in themselves.

    After all, you led me back to him. Thank you Becky.

    Like

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