With Independence Day coming up tomorrow, it’s worth thinking about how independence plays a role in our love lives.
It’s at the heart of every feminist’s byline. It’s at the core of every guy’s inner fear over his life changing once commitment is made. It’s deep down at the center of our human heart. We don’t want to lose our independence, our autonomy, or the right to do what we want, when we want.
But then there’s the issue of love: we all want that, too. For some of us, though, we have yet to make the two work together: going after what I want for myself, and getting the love that I want. Many of us haven’t made the correlation between dismantling the idol of independence and the goal of a beautiful, satisfying lifelong relationship where we serve one another and yield to one another in love.
When we examine what independence is all about, we might find out that having an independent mindset won’t get us the freedom and love that we really want.
The Cost Of Independence
True Independence has to be defined first. Just thinking about how our country gained its independence and keeps its independence, we must acknowledge the cost of many, many lives that were given in military battles. We know independence doesn’t come cheaply.
But there are two sides of independence. There’s the side where we get to self-rule and self-govern, and while that feels good, it’s all about the self. There’s also the beautiful definition of independence that has to do with freedom and liberty, being freed from bondage. For the Christian, true independence is freedom from slavery to sin, freedom from fear of death because you know where you’re going.
Me, Myself And I
There’s also the “self” that often comes at the core of a person acting independently. We can all be very selfish and very centered on what we want or what we think we need, and we wind up meeting that need while hurting someone else in the process.
Some families have suffered when one of the partners decides that he wants to be “free” from the burden of that marriage. Some single adults have been crushed when the person they were engaged to suddenly decides that he or she is not ready to give up their independence and commit.
While it is a human right to be able to make our own decisions as an adult, we can’t necessarily turn that human right into a reason for selfishness. Living a self centered life won’t get us anything but emptiness and broken relationships. Independence is not a ticket for living a life all about me, myself and I.
The Path Of Freedom
True independence is freedom from bondage – to anything or anyone. God desires that we walk in wholeness, and He has given us a mind and a will that we can exercise. He expects that we will exercise our will and make healthy choices. God doesn’t want any of us to live with someone selfishly manipulating or dominating us. He doesn’t want us to be dominated by sinful, unhealthy patterns of coping or behaving, either.
True freedom means you can walk with your head high and your heart full of peace, deciding the best path to take with your mind enlightened by God’s wisdom and your heart touched by His grace. And the effects of freedom can be seen in true inner peace. We are not at war with God, with someone else or even with ourselves: we are at peace. That is true freedom.
Choosing To Give
When we walk in this freedom, we want to see others walk this way, too. This is one of my most passionate ministry goals: to help others walk away from destructive patterns in their lives and choose wisely when it comes to their relationships. When we walk in wholeness and healing, we can choose to give, choose to love. With our heart, mind, soul and spirit fully free to see good and choose it, we then have the liberty to choose good.
That means we can choose to forgive when someone has hurt us, choose to confront when we need to, or choose to walk away from a destructive relationship. We’re not doormats, and we’re not weak in love either. Better than being independent, we’re free. And that’s the healthy beginning for love.
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