Independence has meant different things through my life. If my kids glean one thing from me, I hope it’s how to be independently strong, confident, and kind.
I loved cooking in the kitchen by myself when I was younger. It made me feel knowledgable – little did I know that you don’t cook fish chopped up into tiny little shredded pieces rather than a big chunk. My parents very graciously ate that meal. I redeemed myself by whipping up some awesome rhubarb crunch.
For almost four years I got up to play basketball at 6 am before school. This is when I was 11-14. I loved feeling the power to follow through on decisions and see myself get better through dedication. I felt independent in my hard work.
I remember at the end of high school I was really excited for college away from home (not unlike most of us – I just might have given my parents a good challenge). I was so looking forward to the independence that would come from being totally in charge of myself. I don’t even want to think about this with my children, watching them out the rearview mirror as I drive away like my mom did, not really being successful at holding in tears.
One time at school (go BYU Cougars!) I saw a girl in the middle of a path standing, crying silently, and not moving. In my independent desire for kindness, I went to her and hugged her. It sounds kinda weird, and kinda weird to be telling you this, but it was a moment. She was a stranger and I was a stranger, but for that moment she wasn’t alone. I honestly don’t remember what devastating news she had just received, she told me through muffled tears. We never learned each other’s names and never saw each other again, but for that simple moment, we declared our ability to independently come together to make each other stronger.
Now I think of independence as a much bigger thing. It’s power to act, to live, to create, and to build the life and people around you in a way that you can be proud of. Independent in thinking and acting on those thoughts makes a person more caring, sincere, and creative in their service to others. Independence is when you stand tall and strong in your own skin. It’s when you can work hard when you’re all alone. When you stick with your decisions, that’s independence. When you realize you’re wrong and are willing to change your ideas, that independence.
Sometimes we’re more independent than we think we are. Sometimes we aren’t. It’s grace that we give each other as we stretch and grow that matters. Maybe true independence is letting each other do that even when it’s tricky and painful, sometimes directly painful to us. I don’t know, I’m still figuring it out. I hope in my independence I’m strengthening others and lifting them in their own journey.
So let’s eat some of this fruit flag to celebrate our independence.
My kids loved it! It’s easy to make, healthy, and totally works as a fruit salad for your 4th of July picnic. Don’t put any cake under this, leave it whole and healthy. Beware that it will disappear quickly. Configuring food in any pattern makes it way more fun to eat.
I hope you have a happy 4th full of street barbecues and neighborhood water fights like my childhood.