As citizens of the United States, we carry an incredible burden as well as a wonderful gift.

FREEDOM

We shout to all who will listen that we are the home of the free and the brave. Freedom reigns and beauty abounds. Come to America and all your dreams will come true.

Each phrase shouts of glorious beginnings and beautiful endings. Living in the United States of America is where it’s at.

But the gift of freedom is not one to take lightly. When I look around me, I see abundance and a relatively easy life. But looking on the surface doesn’t reveal the hidden angst that remains in the dark spaces of our lives. Do we really look closely at the world around us or do we just see what we want to see?

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. Nelson Mandela

As we celebrate the freedom of our country today and look at what the gift of freedom means in our lives, take a look at how Nelson Mandela describes freedom. Mandela’s words challenged me to take a look into my heart to question if I am building others up or tearing them down with my words and actions. The words convicted me to look deeper at what I miss on the surface of my life and truly look into the eyes of the people who not only make up my life, but fill our country.

Today I look at the diversity of people groups and strive to see beyond the outside into the beauty that makes them who they are.

I hold open the gift of freedom to others because God graciously gave it to me first.

I strive to live a life of love that shows in my words and actions because acceptance and love grows the gift of freedom.

When claiming the gift of freedom, I am learning to share it willingly as Christ graciously sacrificed his own freedom for me.

Today I am praying for the gift of freedom that we claim as citizens of the United States. May we treat each other with the respect they deserve and grow the freedom we profess as our own. Let our lives reflect a willingness to truly know our neighbors and love them just because. May God bless our nation. May we never take for granted that each person deserves respect and brings a uniqueness that makes our country great.

Happy Fourth of July! 

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