The Problems with a Declaration of Independence.

There should be some kind of support group for us people who are stubbornly, die-harded-ly independent.

Scratch that. That would be way to much commitment and dependence.

Maybe just some sort of online forum for those kind of people. Just for every once in a while where it would be nice to know of some other bizarrely independent people to say, “Yeah, me too.”  Because I know I can’t be the only one here.

See, the thing is that besides being born with a pretty strong personality from the get-go, I was raised by parents who made sure to raise their daughter to be a strong, independent woman who didn’t need no man…to understate it a little.

In fact, for a while all of my dreams and plans and future I could see before me was to be single and independent until I died, just traveling and changing the world more or less on my own, with friends I had and would make along the way.  Then, I met A, who changed my life and my vision of the future. Problem is, I still don’t think he understands just how drastically he changed things.

As I’m writing this, it just occurred to me that if 17-year-old Kristin read those last 2 sentences, she would be outraged that I was letting a man change anything about my life. (Yes, that’s how bad it is. [Was?])

It’s easy to maintain independence in friendships, even close ones. If you’re close enough with a friend, you can get to the point where you can agree to disagree even about a particularly inflammatory point of contention and live with it.  Because though the friend may be affected because she thinks you’re making a huge mistake and she loves you and hurts for you, it is still only your life to do with as you please.

It gets really tough when the strictly autonomous, rather private person has to share all of the details of her life and let someone else have a say in all her decisions.

As a culture, we value independence so much. It’s something to strive towards, being totally self-reliant.  In the past 4 months in particular, I’ve come to realize this value is not all it’s cracked up to be.  In Christian circles, you hear the buzzwords “community” and “relationship” thrown around all the time as the answer to questions asking what we as humans were made for.  Do we understand what we’re saying?

As someone who has been in the church her whole life, I don’t think I do.

I mean, in my head I do. I know it’s not just once-a-week “community groups,”  not just the occasional good conversation.  But I live in a world where I was bred to be autonomous and task-oriented and much more likely to schedule my relationships in a coffee date-sized time slot between when school gets out and when work begins. I have very few people who know my heart well enough to have the power to hurt me with their words or actions.

Striving towards unity and oneness with a man worlds different than me? It’s foreign. Not only that,  but I’m striving towards dependence here. Depending on his feelings and thoughts and opinions and needs to make decisions about my life: the big, long-term trajectory of my life and big things like that, but little things that I much prefer not being accountable to anyone to, quite frankly.  The allocation of my resources; my time, money, and talents.  Living responsibly, knowing that everything I do, he is affected by.

It’s like a person who has been eating junk food all her life making a switch to a balanced diet with lots and lots of vegetables.  Because like the food switch, it’s a painful transition.  I miss sovereignty over my own life, for sure. But over the period of time where A and I were just dating, I talked to God a lot about this.  It took that entire almost-two-year period of time for me to really buy into the idea that a relationship that grows some dependence on another person is a good thing; that it is in fact what God intended. To buy into the truths that “It is not good for man to be alone,”  that I am actually stronger with a partner in everything, that to be in a relationship where little is only yours grows your selflessness in a way that little else can possibly do.  That to engage in a relationship where the needs of the other person supersedes yours is to be refined… painfully, piece-by-piece refined, bringing up baggage you didn’t even realize you still had so that you may better love the one you’re with. And that to be refined like this is the most thorough way to become like Christ, because you cannot hide any of your ugliness from yourself, you must work through it and give it up for patience, goodness, gentleness, and love.

The God of the universe created these relationships in His infinite wisdom. May we not shy away from the pain and discomfort they bring, but embrace these relationships that take all of us, so that we may become more loving, more patient, more selfless. More like Christ, and more prepared for that day when we may stand completely unguarded and dependent and passionately loved by the One whose love and relationship surpass all others.

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