Read Genesis 3
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
When I was around seventeen or eighteen years old, all I could think of was moving out of the house and living on my own. I wasn’t too naive, and I did realize that to do so I would need to work and have a job; however, I didn’t recognize the full measure of what such freedom would cost me. After all, who really does at that age? Yet, when I moved out of the house, I began to realize that the little bit of independence I gained from my parents took away much of the freedom, especially of personal time, that I previously enjoyed.
When one thinks about it, we often confuse the ideas of independence and freedom as if they are one and the same thing. But are they truly the same thing? Does in independence mean freedom? Does dependence automatically mean a lack thereof? It seems, at least from my experience, that one is not necessarily free just because she or he is independent.
Often times, just like when I was a teenager, we push ourselves from the ones who love and protect us in order to experience independence. During that push we also equally expect to gain more freedom, which we assume will make our lives better. Yet, the truth is that freedom never comes without a cost and independence is sometimes highly overrated.
The people in the Garden of Eden sought their independence from God. When the man and the woman heard that they could attain the knowledge of good and evil, when they learned that they could make decisions for themselves, when they learned that they could claim their own destiny and gain independence, they seized the fruit and the day. Perhaps such seizure can be considered the first sin, or perhaps it was the final, completing act of creation.
Either way one looks at it, people chose to be free to choose right from wrong, good from evil; people chose to be independent from their creator and took the step that each of us takes toward growing up and being responsible for ourselves. Of course, no human being, from the first people to us, seems to have fully mastered this free will; however, our desire to be independent still goes on.
Yet, I believe that the desire of independence can also lead us down a dark and dangerous road. Many people choose to resist being dependent on others (including God) for help and, as a result, find themselves dependent in otherways to compensate for their pride. Many addictions, drug and otherwise, are rooted in the desire to be independent; yet, how independent is an addict, how independent is a person who strokes out because they refused to call 911? No matter how hard we try, we cannot avoid the fact that we are quite dependent.
God wants us to come to the realization that we are still dependent. God wants us to return to a right relationship with each other…one that recognizes our interdependence on those who are our neighbors. God wants us to love and care for our neighbor, just as much as God wants us to recognize our need to be cared for as well. And it is such a recognition, such a right relationship with God’s creation, that causes us to be in right relationship with God. Rather than fighting for complete and utter independence, let us utilize the freedom that God has given each of us, by God’s grace, to find peace in our dependence of each other and of God. Be dependent in those God has placed in your life, be dependent in God’s grace, and be sustained by the freedom that such dependence brings!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“From my own being, and from the dependency I find in myself and my ideas, I do, by an act of reason, necessarily infer the existence of a God, and of all created things in the mind of God.” – George Berkeley
Lord, while I enjoy the amount of independence that is healthy for me, help me to also accept that I am very much dependent on you and on those whom you have placed around me. None of us are alone and, for that graceful gift, I thank you. Amen.