Every year I look forward to the arrival of summer and a favorite holiday, the 4th of July. My unhurried nature loves the relaxed atmosphere and the feeling of small-town America it triggers. There's no big meal to plan and prepare...no hours standing in the kitchen, hoping all turns out well. I don't feel any pressure to scrub our home. We'll be outdoors anyway, so what's the point?
Decorations are simple: red, white and blue, and American flags scattered throughout the property. The simplicity affords me the time to dig deeper and give serious thought to the heart of this holiday...and the heartbeat of our country...freedom. When I look at our flag waving proudly throughout our neighborhood, or gaze upon the dazzling fireworks display at our local park, it's what I see...and hear...and feel. Freedom has got to be one of our most valuable blessings, yet it's so easy to take for granted. What if we were to lose it? And what if we haven't really grasped it in its truest form?
There are so many dimensions to freedom ~ freedom of speech, religion, assembly, pursuit of happiness...and so on. I'm so grateful for all of these. But there's another freedom I've only recently grabbed hold of ~ the freedom from needing approval of others. Until recently, I didn't realize this was an issue for me. But looking back, I can see how it's been a crack in my foundation for a long time. Trying to fill my dad's shoes in the business world after he passed away...striving to be a good wife and stepmom when I got married...longing to be a successful mother, homemaker, and teacher. I've been hungering for the approval of others my whole life.
Perhaps it's one of the treasured perks of being fifty-something. Or maybe it's because I've progressed through those roles, and no longer find my identity in them. Or could it be that I am finally able to embrace myself just as I am, and put my need for approval to rest? Maybe it's all of the above.
How about you? There's One who came to set us free. How much time do we give to that truth? Are we walking that path to freedom He laid out for us? If not, what's holding us back? "If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed." Those are more than just words, my friend. That's freedom in its truest form. And it's ours, if we want it.
"Freedom is not won on the battlefields. The chance for freedom is won there. The final battle is won or lost in our hearts and minds."
~Helen Gahagan Douglass