The Path to Independence
Independence is a concept that I believe we are all chasing. The question isn’t “do you want it?” The question is “how do you get it?” This is a struggle for so many of us. Let’s look at the statistics. It is reported that the mid-adolescence stage is now stretching into the early 30s for some people. What does mid-adolescence mean? It is basically defined by a person who is not set in their values, standards, or beliefs. How can you be an independent individual or guide someone towards independence without addressing this? Let’s look at an oversimplified but foundational path towards independence.
1. Let Yourself Be Challenged
Of course there are moments where this is not true but nine times out of ten, challenge spawns growth. Allow yourself to embrace challenge! When we run from challenge or protect people from challenge, we cut off their ability to expand and we create atrophy or stagnation. In the challenge of life is where we are drawn out of who we are, and the need to adjust, adapt, and expand is created.
So use challenges and trials for your betterment, your growth, and your maturation. It may not feel good in the moment, but after the dust has settled you will be able to say that you are a different person because of the challenge that you faced and endured (even when you fail!).
I would encourage you to chase challenges in these areas: spiritually, mentally, and physically. These three work together in so many ways. Our physical health directly affects our mental health and our mental health directly affects our spiritual health and vice versa. They are all linked and there are benefits that will transfer over from each as well.
2. Identify Your Core Principles
This is probably the one I preach the loudest to the young people around me. Become aware of, and set in, your principles. These must be YOUR principles, not what your parents tell you. It’s great to start with what your parents say and what the Bible says, but determine if YOU really believe them and then adopt them as your own.
These principles must be from your desire (please do not overlook that element). This is a step that reduces confusion. So many people are confused about “What do I do when this happens?” or “How should I respond to this situation?” These are very easy questions when you have identified your core principles. Because the answer is “follow your pre-determined principles.”
If you have the core principle of “kindness” then in any given situation, be kind. If you are driven by truth then tell the truth. Very simply, we must be a people that have identified our core drivers and let them be our guide through life, not our impulses. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Set your mind on these things and let your heart become set on these things. Then let your actions become set on these things and “poof” you have just become principle-focused and driven!
3. Go and Test Your Independence
This is the step where we go from introspection to application which can be so very hard for many of us. But we must test our sea legs. All adults reading this can remember how your first step into independent living was a bit bumpier than you anticipated:
You were dirt poor… digging coins out from the couch
to buy food or gas for your car (if you even had a car),
and putting most of the rest of your money towards rent
for an apartment that had no furniture
or free furniture from friends (or the closest street corner!).
You also remember how you made it through and learned how to become responsible. All the life philosophy that people gave you became a truth now that was lived out and experienced instead of just staying a philosophy.
People must experience this stage, the stage of testing the truths that we have taught them and figuring out for themselves if it holds water or not. This is where confidence, maturity, and experience are gained. If we take away the tests, we can really cripple a young person’s independence. They will learn very quickly not to wash the colored clothes with the white clothes when they have to wear a horrible version of tie dyed socks and shirts to school or work. But if we never give them the freedom to make those mistakes we will stunt their growth tremendously.
Young people, this is a step that takes great courage. To step out into the harsh unknown world is a scary concept, but I promise you that every young person I have seen step out has been better off for it. I also promise you that you are so much more resilient than you may know. You have what it takes to scramble and make it to a place of living and surviving on your own.
4. Cultivate a Dependence on Christ
This might seem contrary to gaining independence but I will explain how this will help promote independence in your life. Independence is the ability to be self-reliant and self-sustainable. One of Christ’s messages to us is that He is all we need (Psalm 16:5-11). If we only need Christ, then we need nothing else. He is our all in all. As we become more dependent on Christ our independence in this world starts to grow tremendously. We begin to not seek our value from others. We stop looking to others to hold our hand through life because we know we have the God of this universe holding our hand. We gain security because we are in the place of ultimate security. We are given our principles by His word and we no longer have to be confused on what is right or wrong.
As we strive to seek Christ and soften our heart to Him and fall more in love with Him our independence in this world will sky rocket and we will look back in life and realize that we are standing at a place of independence!
Bless you my brothers and my sisters! I love you!