Other than the sweltering heat, I always love the Fourth of July. I love fireworks and parades (which always make me cry for some reason) and sparklers and flags.
And I love my country.
I have a great love for the Founding Fathers of America. They were not perfect men but I believe that they were divinely inspired to do the great work that they did for my country. They took a stand that required complete and total commitment. One that was also, quite literally, do or die.
I have to ask myself if I have that kind of courage. I think I do in some situations. I think we all do in very drastic situations, perhaps involving the safety of a loved one.
But what about the less obvious opportunities to take a stand? What about our personal independence from whatever tyrants we have allowed to rule our lives?
While we are totally dependent upon, and grateful to, a loving Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ, we must not allow ourselves to be enslaved by the ruthless despots that rob us of our precious "natural" resources of time, energy, and talents. Are there any ways that we, in our very personal lives, have allowed a "foreign" ruler to reign supreme? An addiction, a habit, a weakness, a character flaw....something that we know we need to break free from but somehow feel unable or unwilling to declare our independence from?
President James E. Faust once said:
Each new day that dawns can be a new day for us to begin to change. We can change our environment. We can change our lives by substituting new for old. We can mold our character and future by purer thoughts and nobler actions. As someone once put it, “The possibility of change is always there, with its hidden promise of peace, happiness, and a better way of life.”
Peace, happiness, and a better way of life? Sounds good to me. Sounds like something the Founding Fathers wanted.
And so, I challenge myself (and you, if you are up for it) to declare independence from one thing today. One vice or habit that steals away a part of you, that somehow holds you captive. It doesn't have to be huge. In fact, it probably should be something small that you can tackle with confidence.
Really think about it. Has something been gnawing at you, making you squirm, filling you with regret? Analyze it and pick it apart if it's too big to handle in one chunk. Pick a baby step that at least puts you one foot into the journey towards independence from whatever maniacal monarch has you in chains.
Declare it, and then fight for independence from it! Look it straight in the eye and say:
Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! May it mean more to you on this day than ever before.