The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. My family and I, being quite patriotic, always manage to find fun ways to celebrate our nation’s birthday. This year we marked the occasion by grilling burgers in the backyard, making homemade ice cream, and enjoying a community fireworks show. And I’m so glad to have the freedom to do all those things.
As frustrated as I get with some of the leaders in our country, and as concerned as I am about some of the situations we are facing, I still believe that I am indeed privileged to live in a place where I enjoy so many freedoms. In fact, to be honest, in spite of my best efforts, I admit to regularly taking those freedoms for granted.
This year my heart has been heavy for those families who have lost loved ones in military service. I am incredibly grateful to all those protecting and defending our country — particularly to those who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom.
As much as I enjoy the Fourth of July with its stars and stripes, parades, patriotic music, military fly-overs, and fireworks, I realize that there are many people who cannot fully embrace freedom because they feel hostage to someone or something.
Just this week I met with a woman who was deeply steeped in guilt because of a prayer she had prayed that she believes nearly costs a family member his life. I believe that she has begun finding freedom from wrong beliefs and false guilt. That is worth celebrating.
Just this week I met with a couple who have been so paralyzed by “what ifs” and “if only”s in their marriage that there relationship had begun to wither and fade away. I believe that they are starting to practice grace toward one another and believe the best in each other. They are purposing to find a new sense of freedom in their marriage. That is worth celebrating.
Just this week I talked with a friend who was incredibly distressed over the manipulation and dishonesty of his boss — in this case, a pastor. As hurtful as the experience is for the whole family, they are doing what they need to do in order to find freedom from a toxic relationship. That is worth celebrating.
Almost every day I encounter someone who needs freedom from something. Sometimes it’s a woman trapped in a codependent relationship with a battering husband. Sometimes it’s a man living in bondage to sexual sin. Sometimes it’s a couple mired in unbelievable financial debt.
There are so many things that can rob a person of freedom: grief, fear, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, unforgiveness, sexual abuse, eating disorders, religious abuse. . . .the list could go on and on.
My prayer today is that freedom will be not something celebrated just one time every year — but something enjoyed in the deepest places of life all year long. If you find yourself struggling to break free from whatever is holding you back, don’t wait another minute to reach out for help and healing. That kind of decision will provide lasting effects long after the fireworks have faded, the music has stopped, and the crowd has gone home.