Fierce Independence

According to the Internet, thirteen states pledge allegiance to their state flag. Texas, of course, is one of the thirteen. While I cannot vouch for the other twelve, I do know that each morning in the Great State public schools “Honor the Texas Flag” after reciting America’s Pledge of Allegiance.

Texans find it odd that other states do not require the same loyalty to their respective flags.

Texans find it odd that not every state pledges allegiance to its flag.

Texans are quite special. We like to remind you that we were once a republic and some dare to make our state a republic again. We drive around with “Secede” bumper stickers and warn you not to mess with us. We require that you “Remember the Alamo” and other factoids about our history. And we dang sure value our independence.

Oh, independence. It’s not exclusively a Texas thing, I’ll admit that. It’s also quite Southern. And we’re stubborn about it. I can see Scarlett’s silhouette now, raising a small fist in defiance, declaring that she and her folks “will never go hungry again.”

And, of course, independence is quintessentially American. I picture a clean-shaven Jeremiah Johnson trading in his soldier’s uniform for buckskin and a Hawken rifle. He flees society to make his own way in the world and epitomizes the independent spirit of the American Frontiersmen.

But, even Jeremiah Johnson needed Bear Claw’s hunting lessons in order to survive a Rocky Mountain winter. Even Scarlett needed Rhett’s help to pay taxes on Tara.

In our fast paced society, independence is still highly valued. “Long live the pioneer,” they sing. But we often forget that asking for help is okay. Necessary, in fact. We were created to be in community with one another – to be a shoulder for the weak and to lean on our neighbor when times are hard.

I was raised to be independent. My dad taught me to never use being a girl as an excuse. My mother and grandmother taught me the same lesson by example. But I was also raised to ask for help when I need it. Sadly, I get swept up in my independence. I get swept up in pride. Of course I can do this. Of course I can do that. I could ask for your help, but I’m fine on my own. I’ve got this. Don’t let me inconvenience or burden you.

I even hate for others to carry my luggage. I figure if my suitcase it exceptionally heavy, no one else should have to suffer from the extra weight. It’s my weight, I should carry it.

How foolish.

I function so independently sometimes that I forget to pray for help.

How foolish!

Jesus says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Oh, but sometimes I feel that my requests are trivial. Sometimes, in my heart of hearts, I doubt that God would want to help me out in certain situations. I wonder, “Is this just a lesson I need to muddle through?” Or, “Why bother God about this. It’s no big deal.”

Friends, regardless of what God is up to in our lives today, one thing is sure: He’s commanded us to ask for help. Even in the small things. I believe that asking for help reminds us of our vulnerability, a reality that we would be wise to remember. I believe that being reminded of our vulnerability makes room for humility and reminds us of our need for God. And when we are reminded of our great need for God, God does amazing and miraculous things in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, may we value asking You for help as fiercely as we value independence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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