As a girl growing up in the heart of the Midwest, the Fourth of July primarily meant one thing to me: parade candy. The thrill of having to dart into the street dodging Clydesdale hooves and the ambulance that might have to be my ride if I risk my neck for that jumbo tootsie roll under its wheel. Boxing out and throwing bows if another kid tried to step to my zone. It was an adrenaline and sugar rush. Bring on the Fruities. Keep the old man hard candies. Thanks, no thanks.
But as I have matured, the Fourth has meant so much more.
Obviously, I am so thankful to live in this country, flaws and all. I am so grateful for the men and women who fought and died to ensure that I can speak and write and vote freely. I am blessed to know a handful of veterans who fought and came home--some of whom I’m sure are torn between the comfort of being home and what they know happened and still happens oceans away in their absence. I cannot fathom it, but I extend my gratitude all the same.
In contrast, this holiday also reminds me that not everyone has experienced freedom the way that I have.
It reminds me that being a middle class, white woman comes with a certain amount of privilege. It reminds me that a huge amount of the world’s population doesn’t live four minutes from a Target, nor can they afford anything from Chip and Jo’s home decor section or a home for that matter.
It reminds me that while I can talk a good game when it comes to diversity and building bridges, believing and thinking doesn’t do much good when I have only made an effort to know a handful of people who look different than me.
It reminds me that slavery still exists and human trafficking happens all over the world while I worry about finding the just the right curling iron.
It reminds me that my family owns roughly 100 water bottles that I can fill up at will when people are still dying for lack of clean water.
It reminds me that my children get to go to school and learn and play while some kids carry the burden of supporting their families.
It reminds me that there are many people who are hurting, who feel lonely, and who feel alienated to the extent where they don’t want to live anymore while I take for granted the affordable medication and supportive family and availability of counseling I have.
It reminds me that I know a Savior who promises true freedom without strings. I can live and live abundantly because He lived and died and rose again. I don’t have to work to earn His love. I do not have to jump through hoops or worry that I might not be accepted. I do not merely hope; I know.
And that reminds me, that my life needs to look like freedom. Because I want everyone to know Him and the freedom He brings.
If I am held captive by my ridiculous first world problems and blindness, then who would buy any lifestyle I promote?
So I’m going to start a Fourth of July resolution. There is too much hype with New Year’s resolutions anyway. If free people free people, then I need to let it ring in my actions. It is exciting and daunting, and I feel totally ill-equipped because I am an awkward introvert. So hold me accountable. Reach out. Give me more ideas and opportunities.