I live in a safe home in a safe neighborhood in a safe city. I have a career, I get to choose where and how I practice my faith, and I travel often. Sometimes, I forget to be thankful for my freedom. Sometimes I even take freedom for granted. It’s easy to do since I’ve grown up with these liberties and haven’t really ever experienced life without them. Then I hear about things like the suicide bombing in Turkey. I think a little about what that might be like, but it seems so distant, so far away.
Last week, I had the privilege of taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas by Charity Wallace, Founding Vice President and Senior Advisor of the Global Women’s Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute and former Senior Advisor to First Lady Laura Bush. Charity also happens to be on the 4word advisory board and wrote the forward to our Diane Paddison’s book Work, Love, Pray.
One of the most impactful parts of the tour was seeing a beam that had been a part of the World Trade Center, but became part of the rubble on September 11, 2001. That’s not so far away, but still, sometimes I forget.
When my kids were little, we made a big deal out of the 4th of July. One year, after a fun neighborhood parade, my young son asked me why we were celebrating. I said, “We celebrate because we’re free.” He exclaimed, “But I’m not free. I’m four!”
I laughed as I realized how hard it is to articulate the meaning of Independence Day to a four-year-old, but can I even articulate it now? Can you? Just like any other holiday, it’s easy to simply go along with the crowd and do what people do. Parades and fireworks can come and go without deep reflection, same as Christmas, but this year, I want to stop and consider freedom, and specifically, what it means to enjoy the freedom I have as an American woman.
The word freedom implies independence. As a nation, we are free from foreign rule. As an American woman, I am free to work outside the home, be a stay-at-home-mom, or some combination of the two. While we still fight for gender equality in some areas like compensation and representation in the C-Suite, women in our country are generally free to make decisions, vote, and join causes. When I compare this freedom to the freedom of women in the rest of the world, I am beyond grateful to God for choosing for me to be born in the United States. I am grateful for the gentle leadership of my husband, as well, as he has always been my biggest champion and believes there’s nothing I can’t do.
Another freedom the American woman has is the freedom to be who we are. Sometimes we don’t embrace that freedom. Instead, we waste time apologizing for who we are. Not long ago, I cried during a meeting. I was so embarrassed and kept saying I was sorry to the other people there. You know what, though? God created me to be an emotional and caring person. He has gifted me with empathy for the pain of others and breaks my heart for what breaks His heart.
These traits are what make me a great leader. While I don’t advocate for mixing tears and business, my point is I am who God created me to be. I should try to be the best ME I can be, and stop beating myself up for what I view as my inadequacies. I will never be easy going. I will never love accounting and budgets. However, I am exactly who God wants me to be. He is working on smoothing out my edges, but ultimately, I am exercising the freedom God gave me when I choose to fully live the life He gave me.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well,” (Psalm 139:14)
God made each of us wonderfully! On this Independence Day, let’s all join together and vow to love who we are and stop apologizing for who we are not. Let “In God We Trust” be more than a slogan on currency. Thank you, God, for our freedom. We trust you knew what You were doing when You created us. Help us walk in the freedom Jesus bought for us on the cross. I am thankful I am an American woman!