My first night away from home without my parents or an adult chaperone, was my college orientation. At the end of a long day in the stifling heat of summer, after enduring placement tests, campus tours and class enrollment, I sat in the air conditioned room before my college counselor, tired and and entranced. At the ripe age of 21, my counselor, Lainey, was a mirror of what I wanted to be in five years. With the tattoo behind her ear and the dozen bracelets tied around her wrists, her coffee tan, and messy bun, she sat before us with such carefree confidence. She knew the ropes of college, and she had been chosen to show us the way.

We were about to receive our dorm assignments for the night, and the kids around me were buzzing with excitement. She called us up in pairs, “Steph and Liz,” “Mark and Jeff,” “Nicole and Anita…” with painstaking slowness she listed off the names until she came to mine and another girl I didn’t know, “Lindsay and Zahara.” Like awkward shoes on the wrong feet, we walked up and each grabbed the folded white paper with our name scrolled in bubbly handwriting on the front. For a brief moment I glanced at Lainey. She winked, popped her gum and said, “You’re free kiddo! Go have fun!” 

That night I sat on the long, narrow bunk and cried. Free for what really? Free to be lost and lonely? Free from my parents’ guidance? Free from the comfortable place I called home?

Its been a long journey of grasping for freedom since then. Asserting my independence by making stupid choices that ultimately steal my happiness. But In the eyes of my young self, I’m more free than ever: a taxpaying adult, a homeowner, a mom (Holy Cow!). Not only can I drink legally, but I get excited when I’m carded.

Sometimes I want to look back on that timid and tentative 18 year old and say, “Look kid- I’m an ace at this “adulting” thing!”

But when I have a rough day. When my relationships aren’t going exactly as I want them too, and my self worth feels bottomed out. When my kid is burning a fever and my three year old is demanding my attention, and I just feel tapped out…I want to shake that lonely 18 year old self and say, “You aren’t free because of who YOU are but because of who HE is.”

Yes, I’ll never have it all together. I’ll never have this adult thing all figured out. But I’m free. Free to serve humbly. Free to live boldly.

On this Independence Day, I get to live in-dependence on Him.

So friends, I echo the wise words of that college counselor, but with such a different understanding of what it means:

“You’re free kiddo! Go have fun!”

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