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What Does It Mean to Be Independent?

fireworks, Fourth of July, Independence Day, child

My mother tells me that I was conceived on the Fourth of July. She says that she remembers well the hot summer night on their back porch in the city, with fireworks heard in the distance. I know, I know — too much information. This is my parents that I’m talking about here. I do NOT try to visualize. We shouldn’t be scandalized, though, by such a description, or even by such knowledge of our parents. This is how we all begin, with the coming together of a man and a woman, hopefully in love, hopefully in maturity, resulting, usually a couple of days later, in the conception of new life. Sometimes a different procedure intervenes between desire and conception, be it artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, but some act must be taken up before sperm can join with ovum. Something definite must occur before that little cell with its 46 chromosomes can be activated by the spark of life and divide into two…then four…then eight…a little body taking shape to a unique design already determined by the specific coming together of the DNA of mother and father.

For me, the first physical act that began my life happened on Independence Day.

And isn’t that ironic?

I — the most dependent living person that I currently know, dependent upon other people for every act of daily survival — was eventually conceived through a freely chosen act that took place on the greatly celebrated day of independence.

As we barbecue and watch parades and shoot off fireworks this year, all in the name of freedom, I will be thinking about what it really means to be free. I am not free to take care of itself, I am not free to dress myself, feed myself, brush my own teeth — I am not independent, I am dependent. And yet…am I not free? I’m free to think and speak for myself, yes, but that’s not the kind of freedom that I’m talking about, because even dependent people whose minds or tongues are chained can be free. How, you may ask?

By knowing that I am necessarily dependent and being able to love that dependency which allows me to live, I am free to love. And in the freedom of divine love, love that is dependent upon nothing but eternally dependable God, I am independent, free from being demoralized by the fleeting, fickle things of life. My love, my joy, is independent of having a certain body, a certain family, certain abilities, accomplishments, luxuries, etc. because it is solely dependent upon God’s love, love that never fails.

Are you this free?

You do know that you, dear reader, are also dependent, right?

These are some of the thoughts and questions that I recently reflected upon in a video that I called Fearing Dependency on Independence Day. Take a listen to it below and enjoy your freedom.

© 2019 Christina Chase

Feature Photo by Chansereypich Seng on Unsplash

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

3 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Be Independent? Leave a comment

  1. Haven’t listened yet; .But I shall, afyer the fireworks (i.e., the exhilaration of seeing the poem you left for us to imagine at the end):


    Totally dependent and possibly
    Loving It (that dependency)
    It’s how we are able to live–
    By experiencing love. See,

    In the freedom of divine love,
    Which is dependent on nothing
    But eternally dependable God,
    Everyone is free, independent..

    We are free from the fearsome,
    The fickle, the fleeting things
    of life. Our joy, our true being–
    These are independent of

    Bodies that disappoint, families
    That change, skills or achievements
    That aren’t promised;  just one thing
    Never fails:  God’s love. It is here, now.

    Always it is here–with you, with me.
    And that is exactly how we are free.


    • Oh, my goodness, Al!! That’s awesome! I did not feel that I was being very clear in this reflection (my mind already on the writing vacation I had planned) but you distilled the essence into a poetic burst. I love when you do this, thank you! (I especially like your additions “bodies that disappoint” and “the fearsome, the fickle, the fleeting things of life”, as well as “It is here, now” and the rhyming couplet at the end.)
      Thank you! May you receive God’s rich blessings of independence, in all of His kind and gentle ways,
      Pax Christi

      Liked by 1 person

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