We live in a country that values independence. We celebrate Independence Day and value the ability to “pick ourselves up by our bootstraps”. Our history is rich with stories of bravery and hard work. I come from a family history of strong, independent men and women who worked very hard. I am a fiercely independent person. I love being able to do things myself. I learn by doing things myself. As I watch my two-year-old granddaughter insist on doing nearly EVERYTHING herself, I see MY-self. Today. A fifty-something two-year-old. And I realize that we all need to find an appropriate balance somewhere between independence and dependence.
Just last week I came across this quote, “The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.” I read it, and I thought, “Amen to that!” And I DO believe I’m responsible to do what I can for myself and for others as long as I am able to do so. The ability to work and to care for myself and my family, is a privilege that age or death will one day rob me of. But to hold independence in too high of regard is a tragic mistake that threatens to rob us all of some of life’s greatest gifts.
One of my grandpa’s well known sayings is. “We all drink from wells we didn’t dig.” We all have privileges and freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis because someone before us sacrificed and did what they could. They did the work, and we get the payoff. That is a kind of DEPENDENCE. Maybe even more importantly, we gain from “depending” on others around us in the present to help meet our needs and from BEING someone who can be depended upon. This Independence Day, may we remember to thank those who have sacrificed for our benefit, work hard for someone else’s good, and gracefully accept a worthy shoulder to lean on in our own time of need.