Today is July 4th, and for the USA our “Independence Day.” There will be BBQs, celebrations and, as always, lots of fireworks! Most people are off work and even if they don’t celebrate, they at least get to enjoy an extra day of rest from the normal routine. But tomorrow is July 5th and most people will wake up and simply go on with their lives as they did on July 3rd, with no different sensation or without a new (or renewed) perspective. We simply clean up the mess from the celebration and don’t think twice about our independence again until another year goes by. I can’t help but think how much this mirrors so many other things in our lives.
Life presents us with so many challenges and struggles, and there are days when we feel like we are at the end of our proverbial ropes! We tend to think all these struggles are a result of outside forces but most often it is a result of our choices in how we deal with those forces. We make choices to continue to live under the oppression of our circumstances because it is easier to stay in the familiar rather than to step out into the unknown and make a change. These changes can be something major like moving to a new place, ending a bad relationship, leaving a job that is sucking the life out of you…or it can be something smaller like changing your diet, keeping your house clean or following through on a commitment to take a few minutes of every day to be still. The point is that changes are never easy, and if you want to declare your independence from your circumstances, you must be willing to pay the price.
Many of you may not enjoy history, but stay with me for a few moments. Trust me; I have a point in relating this to you. There are some very interesting things about our Declaration of Independence that most people overlook. It was not a document that was drafted and signed in one day. It reflected a period of time that was complex and challenging. The Boston Tea Party revolt happened in 1773 when people finally had their fill of the oppression they were under. They got angry and rose up in a very symbolic manner and said “We’ve had ENOUGH!” The tensions, however, continued to exist and in 1775 there was the “shot heard round the world” that started the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. The Declaration of Independence was drafted in 1776 and adopted on July 4th though it wasn’t signed on that day. The signing ceremony took place almost a month later on August 2nd, but it still wasn’t completely signed by everyone at that time. It traveled from place to place during the years of the war, being rolled and unrolled each time it was needed to be referenced again. It wasn’t until 1781 that the last person signed his name to the document, and it wasn’t until 1783 that Britain officially acknowledged the United States as a sovereign and independent nation.
The reason I share that with you is because I see a similar pattern in our lives today. Circumstances can be powerful if we allow them. Whatever problem or circumstance is oppressing us in our personal lives, we find it easier to just keep “drinking the tea” than to take a stand against it. It may be a miserable existence, but at least it is familiar. We do this constantly; we stay in situations or patterns in our lives that we say we want to be different, but we just aren’t willing to do what it takes to make it different. We become victims not out of powerlessness, but because of cowardice. But then there comes a time for many of us where we, too, have “had enough,” and we rise up within ourselves, committing to make a change for the greater good of our lives. We have that moment (often by ourselves) where we hit bottom and decide the pain of staying where we are is greater than the pain of fighting and risking it all in order to gain freedom. We are energized and full of purpose. We may even feel like heroes for a moment, but then the moment fades and we must make a choice. We must choose to be committed or forfeit the cause. Just look at these parallels:
- It took one year and four months from the night of the tea party for the “shot heard round the world” to ring out and officially begin the Revolutionary War. For almost a year and half there was tension and escalation of anger at a situation that we knew needed to be changed, but just didn’t see happening. Similarly in our own lives, we often rise up initially from a place of strong emotion at the things weighing us down. Over time, that frustration and despair may increase as we fight and try to change things, but it feels like nothing is really happening. It is this frustration and sense of purpose that drives us forward toward a greater commitment.
- From the start of the war, it was another year and three months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, though it was not completely signed until 1781. In our lives, when we start down a path of change, we often have to fight for a while before we can even articulate our “declaration of independence” from what is oppressing us. Even though we may have an underlying purpose, we fight first from a place of desperation or anger but over time (if we continue), we are able to reach a point where we can actually articulate that purpose. And sometimes, that “declaration” of what we are fighting for isn’t finalized for a while.
- It took almost seven years from the adoption of the Declaration to the point where Britain officially recognized the USA as a sovereign country. Just because you make a declaration of independence from something doesn’t mean it will instantly be recognized. The declaration is your purpose, but your commitment to seeing that purpose or calling to fruition may be a long and difficult journey. It may be years before you (or other people) can see validation of your declaration but that validation only happens if you don’t give up! And remember, the document travelled around for years, being unrolled any time it needed to be referenced. During your fight, you may need to go back to your own “declaration” from time to time to remind yourself of the reason you are fighting.
- It was 10 years from the time of the Tea Party to the time the war was finally over. During that period, there was great loss of life and property, but the purpose and mission was so important that we pressed forward with our eyes on the final result. Did we know for certain things would turn out in our favor? Of course not, but we BELIEVED it would! It is that belief that kept us fighting. It is that belief that made us willing to sacrifice whatever necessary to obtain freedom. The same holds true for us in the battles we face. We may not have the certainty of victory guaranteed to us, but if we believe our calling is true – or that our purpose of change is a worthy one – then we can fight on in the face of whatever comes!
Life is not easy and liberty comes with a price. If you want to escape the tyranny of your circumstances, then the underlying key is to believe! Our Heavenly Father tells us we are already “more than conquerors” over whatever is thrown at us in life. So what do you need to do?
- Reach a point where you’ve had enough and rise up
- Fight for your purpose, even if you can’t yet find the words to explain it to someone else.
- Declare your independence from your circumstances
- Fight for as long as it takes, even if the world does not yet recognize your freedom or autonomy.
We do not have to live under the tyranny of our oppressors – those things we need to change in our lives. We can be FREE, but just as with our nation’s history, freedom comes with a price. Let us rise up and be committed in our lives to paying the price…because when we are willing to believe and sacrifice, then we are already free!