We were pulling into a parking spot at Chick-fil-a when our 5-year old son, Gideon, reverently breathed from the backseat…
“Papa…I’ve never been this close to a ‘Kuhmerican’ flag before…”
Looking out the window, my eyes landed on a flagpole next to the fast food restaurant that went up, up, up…
and at the very top gloriously waved a humongous American flag.
My heart melted a little.
It doesn’t take much, does it, to capture the wonder of a child? Their little eyes have a way of appreciating the simplest things in life, and I was reminded in the midst of our busy day to look up for a moment and gaze upon the beauty of our country’s flag waving majestically in the wind.
“Do you want to touch the flagpole?” Mr. Gore asked him.
“Yes!” Gideon exclaimed, and all thoughts of lunch were momentarily put aside as our family took a tiny field trip to the Chick-fil-a flagpole, to reach out and touch the metal that hoisted that very important statement of our freedom seemingly all the way up to the sky.
It was a brief and random moment in an otherwise hectic week, but it seated itself in my heart and fanned a longing that I’ve been having as Independence Day draws near…
I’ve got a craving for America.
Not the one that is found in the partisan arguments between liberals and conservatives on news channels…
Not the one that is written between the lines of the biased story shared in the newspaper…
Not the one that is found in the ruthless and hateful comments following every article and blog post on the internet…
The voices of the people on my television and computer screens have become so loud and so one-sided that I don’t know who to believe anymore. I have grown callous to their arguments and suspicious of their intentions ~ do they really care? Are the statistics they are sharing from an unbiased source? Do they truly want change or are they trying to make a buck or a name for themselves? What is their agenda, really?…
And I’m not the only one who feels that way. The spirit of my countrymen has become so bitter and jaded that few are really listening anymore; we have become like partisan robots who immediately agree with everything our political party says or we vehemently disagree with our opponents. On every. single. issue.
When we don’t get our way on those issues, we become fatalistic, as if America is dead. Freedom is dead. The “land of plenty” is a cursed wilderness…
But I’m looking around me, and even though I strongly disagree with many of the views our President stands for, and even though laws are being passed that cause my heart to painfully groan within me, and even though there are a thousand things I would change if I were given the power to do so, this is what I see…
I have good roads to drive on.
The mail is delivered to my mailbox every single day.
I am free to worship God as loudly and as consistently as I choose.
I have thousands of people I have never met who are training or are already trained to protect me – with their lives – if the need arises.
I have the right to school my children at home, and if I change my mind, there is a fully-equipped public school minutes from our house.
There are no bathrooms or water fountains in my town or my state or my country that can be used by only one race.
There are police officers, and firemen, and medical professionals a phone call away if I need help, day or night.
There is a grocery store down the street that contains more food choices in its tiny square footage than people have probably ever had in the history of the world.
I am a stay-at-home mom who is married to a pastor of a small church, and with our modest income, we still fit in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people. Because we’re Americans.
And no matter what the media says about which way our country is going, I still have my vote and I still have my freedom of speech.
I’m sure a Christian from ancient Greece or a suffragette from the 1900’s or a black man from the enslaved South or a Jew from Hitler’s Germany would absolutely love to trade lives with me, even if just for one day.
And so here’s what I want this 4th of July…
some respect for the office of President, no matter my political party.
I want to be heard without being labeled a close-minded conservative or a bigot or a nutcase Southern Baptist.
I want to hear the opinions of others with compassion and understanding, even if I know in my heart I will never agree with them.
I want to be well-informed and knowledgeable about our country’s state of affairs without being used as a pawn in a political game or to increase a show’s television ratings.
I want to use my most important tool of freedom, my vote, with pride and conviction.
I want to use my most important tool for lasting change, prayer, and faithfully beseech God on behalf of our nation and my fellow citizens.
I want to instruct the children in my sphere that change, in a democracy, always begins with you, not the folks in Washington D.C. or the people in high places.
I want to treat President Obama and his lovely wife the same way I wish my beloved G.W. and Laura would have been treated, disagreeing without disrespecting, keeping scorn and bitterness from my heart, and always remembering that presidents are not kings and will not sit in our White House forever.
I want to have faith and hope in a system of checks and balances and in a democracy that swings one way and then usually the other.
I want to enjoy hard work and stay busy enough that I stay out of trouble, and I want my neighbors and townspeople to do the same thing.
I want to worship the Creator as faithfully and boldly as I can while the opportunity is still mine.
I want to study the unadulterated history of my country and teach it to my children, learning from our mistakes and celebrating our God-aided triumphs.
I want to use my rights to speak up – in a kind and effective way – for those who have no voice, specifically those in the womb.
And mostly, I want to feel safe within my borders. Safe to speak, safe to live, safe to raise my children how I see fit, safe to worship, and safe to continue my personal pursuit of happiness.
And the funny thing is, when I tune out the voices on Fox News or CNN or in the comments sections of blogs and internet news stories or from the more out-of-touch celebrities on talk shows, I notice something: America, in my neck of the woods, is almost exactly what I’m looking for.
Of course there are things we must improve. There are freedoms and reforms we must continue to pursue like hounds. There might even be as much wrong as there is right…
But this 4th of July, I want to celebrate the good things, and thank God for this unprecedented chance to live in a free America, while begging Him for grace and guidance to use my freedoms and my blessings wisely and efficiently and, most importantly, generously.
I encourage you to unplug yourself from the talking heads this Independence Day and see with fresh eyes and a grateful heart what you’ve been given.
A beautiful homeland…
previously unheard of freedom and democracy…
a local community to support you…
hope for change…
and the most beautiful and breathtaking “Kuhmerican” flag that waves on nearly every corner, just for you to enjoy.
Happy Independence Day, from Mrs. Gore!