Did you know the Fourth of July is supposed to be the Second of July? I didn’t. And did you know our independence almost didn’t happen . . . that most colonists, in the beginning, didn’t even want independence from Great Britain? Those who did were considered radicals. Just think . . . instead of BBQ and fireworks, we could be having tea and crumpets.
When the Revolutionary War broke out in April of 1775, most people just wanted to be treated fairly. They wanted a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Rumor has it, they blasted Aretha’s song over the loudspeaker, and the sock-it-to-me lines played in cannonball rhythm.
Okay, I may have started that rumor.
The point is, most colonists wanted to remain under the protection of the British monarchy. They couldn’t imagine being independent; they thought they’d never survive without that support system. But like hormonal teenagers on the verge of adulthood, they didn’t want to be treated like children, either.
So they pushed back. They didn’t want to venture into the great unknown of independence, and most were afraid of what might happen if they tried. But something had to change.
We humans don’t like change. We’re afraid of it. That’s why, unless things become unbearable, most of us will simply go along to get along. We don’t fight for something better because we fear something worse.
I wonder if that’s why God allows us to experience hard things sometimes. He sees the hum-drum, less-than-abundant lives we live, and He knows we won’t seek anything better until our circumstances become unbearable. He created us in His image; His DNA runs through our veins. And since He’s an amazing God, we have that longing for spectacular, as well. But we won’t fight for it unless we’re pushed to do so.
By mid-1776, the American sentiment changed. Many colonists had decided that their independence was not only worth fighting for, it was worth dying for. On July 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed. That evening, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 would forevermore “be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival.” He even suggested that the celebration should be filled with “pomp and parade . . . games, sports, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” Two days later, the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the Continental Congress.
So if things hadn’t gotten really bad, we might still be British. We may never have experienced the joy and pride that comes from being an independent nation. On a personal level, I can look back and see how, if I hadn’t been pushed by my circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have fought for something better. I’d have settled for mediocre or less, content in my dull misery.
This year, as I watch all the pomp and parade and illuminations, I’ll remember the hard things in my life that push me to become my best self. And I’ll be grateful for a Creator who doesn’t want me to settle for second rate, because He made me to live a startling, breathtaking, miraculous, mind-blowing life.
Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.