One of the first moves toward growth and autonomy in children is recognizing they’re separate from their parents.
“I can do it myself,” is the statement of newly desired independence. It comes out first in those young enough to discover they aren’t an extension of mom and dad’s wishes. It becomes the loop through the mind in elementary school, high school, and adulthood.
We all want to be seen as unique people.
Four-year-old Ward thinks outside the box. He’s an organizational guru, enjoying order and systems. I envy him–he has a greater sense of structure than I’ve ever had.
Organizational skills, yes. Style skills–not so much.
He came downstairs recently having carefully chosen what he wanted to wear. Not an outfit his mom would have picked; her taste runs more to that of a fashionista. Ward chose dinosaurs running across his shirt, a jacket full of bears that appeared to have originated in Alaska, and a tie-dyed bucket hat.
He was colorful and comfortable with his choices. Quite eclectic.
Our individual style reflects our personal independence–what matters, what we like, and what we value. Because we’re all different, from a variety of backgrounds, inspired by a diversity of values and cultures in which we’re raised, our taste in clothes and decorating will reflect our individuality. It’s what people first notice about us–our appearances and attitudes making a statement of who we are.
Style aside, independence is our connection to personal freedom. To authentically and confidently be who we are without having to make excuses for how we show up.
Too often our sense of independence infringes on the freedom of others. Because of our attitudes toward responsibility, there isn’t a solid framework to determine how my desires won’t impede others’ freedoms.
The musical philosopher of the twentieth century, Bob Dylan, commented: “I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
With freedom and independence comes a sense of responsibility. We live surrounded by people different from us, and we need to consider how our decisions impact others.
We were made for community.
Living in community is being aware of the needs of those around us and being available to help satisfy those needs.
When Jesus spoke of living out the truth of what He shared with people, He made a startling statement about how His truth would affect life.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only way to God. A definitive way that wasn’t based on how our good outweighs our bad. It’s a free gift of hope and life that He offers those who will receive it.
True personal independence is found in absolute truth–the reality of a living God who chooses to love us. Truth frees us to not be mired to personal opinion.
Right now Ward’s way of expressing himself doesn’t offend anyone–except his mom’s sense of style.
But at some time in our lives our decisions will hurt others.
Do you consider how your choices could impact those around you?
Is it worth it?