It's Independence Day in America, and lest you think this day is about burgers and dogs, grilling out, and fireworks, remember how this all began:
With a declaration of freedom.
Most of us don't know how to be free. We don't know what it would be like to live without that hurt we've always had. Or that hesitation. Or that bad habit that keeps us stuck in the same cycles. We don't know how to stop doing what we've always done. We don't know how to do something new, no matter how bad our hearts ache for something to be different, for us to be free.
But that's no reason to reject freedom.
When the founding fathers declared their independence, they didn't know what they were doing. They didn't know how to run a country. They only had the example of the king, which wasn't much of an example because it was everything they didn't want to be any more. They knew what they didn't want but weren't exactly sure what a new nation would look like. So they declared their independence and started working out the bugs as free men.
It's a lesson for all of us.
We think we have to know what's going to be different before we decide to change anything. We think we have to know what we're stepping into, but the lesson of today, if it's anything, is this: we don't. We don't have to know what tomorrow looks like to understand that yesterday isn't working. We don't have to know what "better" is to know that this isn't it. What we have to be willing to do is step forward anyway, shrug off our baggage, set ourselves free from what's broken in our lives and work out the bugs as free men.
It's a learning process; it really is. You don't decide you're not who you were without still seeing your old self in the mirror every now and then. Especially when you're just starting out. You can't just say you're never going to do this or that again, never going to fall for that old trick because by now, it's probably your default. It's probably a bit of a comfort to you because at least you know how this broken place works. You have to commit to taking courageous little steps every day, working your way out of whatever burdened mess you're in and walking toward something new, even if you don't know exactly how that something new works. Even if you don't know exactly what that something new is.
Yesterday wasn't working, but today's a brand new day.
And there is no better day than today to start something new. Today is a day when our bellies are full, when we're filled to the brim with fried chicken and burgers and hot dogs and all the fixins, apple pie and cherry pie and a little bit of ice cream. It's a day when our most basic needs are met, and the mood is already celebratory.
Today is a day when we're surrounded by the people who mean the most to us. Our families, our friends...even our communities. Today, we're all together. You can step out of whatever it is you used to know and step into open arms. Even if it's not in your literal backyard, there are people out there today who will embrace you in a way you can't get on an average Friday. Strike up a conversation. Play a round of badminton. Share a picnic. Whatever. There are people all around today, ready to party.
And tonight is the night that when darkness starts to fall, we light it back up. We fill the sky with colors and sounds, with new light in a new season.
There's no better day than today to start something new. There's no better day than today to start walking toward freedom.
It doesn't matter if it's a big thing or a little thing. A little quirk you've always wished was different or a huge burden holding you down. We all have something we'd like to change, and today is the day.
This Independence Day, set yourself free. You don't have to know how it all turns out; you just have to know it's got to be better than this. And it will be. Take one bold step toward freedom today and celebrate your independence.