Why is This Day Different Than All Other Days?

Wes Mason

In Jewish tradition the youngest child begins the Passover meal, or seder, by asking the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The rest of the celebration is an answer to that question; through the foods they eat, the way those foods are prepared, and the way they eat them, the story of that fateful night, when God delivered his people from captivity, is recreated. It’s a memorial of how they worked together, under God’s protection, to escape their captors and find freedom.

Americans could learn from this. For too many of us Independence Day has become just another day off of work, a day for good deals on mattresses and new cars, a day for barbecues and beach trips. We would do well to learn from our Jewish friends by asking ourselves the same question: “Why is this day different than all other days?”

Now this is not intended to draw a moral equivalence between Egypt’s enslavement of the Jews and King George III’s onerous taxation of the colonies. But the freedoms we enjoy in America today–to worship God as we choose, to speak freely, to elect those who govern us–were all rooted in that fateful July 4th day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was ratified, with John Hancock’s eloquent signature below Thomas Jefferson’s even more eloquent closing line, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” We see here another example of a group of people bonded together, under God’s protection, taking the first steps toward freedom.

Christ set us free with his death on the cross and resurrection. God gave us this wonderful gift, a gift greater than a walk across the Red Sea, far greater than thirteen Free and Independent States. And like those whom He set free in Egypt and Philadelphia He gave us one more thing to ensure that freedom: each other. The Jews in Egypt needed each other to make it to freedom on that Passover night. Our nation’s founders needed that “mutual pledge to each other” to see their vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness realized. God puts people in our lives because the connection in those relationships is the key to our freedom.

So if you’re struggling today, if addiction or emotional pain are holding you captive, if you want real freedom on this Independence Day, reach out to others. Give up on the “just me and God” plan that isn’t His plan and hasn’t worked for you anyway; ask someone for help. God has put people in your life to lead you to freedom; He’s ready right now for you to take that first step to connect with people around you, those who care about you. Make July 4, 2007 your Passover Night, Independence Day, and Resurrection Sunday all rolled into one. A year from now–and God willing each year after that–you may find yourself reflecting back, asking yourself, “Why is this day different than all other days?”

Interdependence: Joined at the Heart

Jeff McVay

A few weeks ago, we had a celebration in America. People across the country prepared their grills for barbecue. Pools were cleaned. Firefighters prepared for the fireworks shows (both professional and the amateur) in case anything went wrong. And most importantly, folks unfurled their flags and joined in parades to celebrate the Independence Day of the United States of America.

Of course most countries have a day in which they celebrate the moment that they proclaimed independence from another nation or people and determined to make their own way in the world in the manner that they saw fit.

In the United States, independence is more than just a day that is celebrated. It is a way of life. We are taught to be ‘self made’ people. Some classic phrases that describe this thought are: ‘pull yourself up by your own boot straps,’ ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me,’ and (my favorite) ‘I did it my way.’

In the US, independence is not just about a people group breaking away from another country in order to make a new way of life; it is now about each individual person breaking away from all other people in order to do life their way. Most of us think that we have the right to live the way we want and not have anyone else ‘tell us what to do.’ This concept of individualistic independence has done some good for our society; however, it has also led to great isolation, loneliness and fear as we try to determine our existence without the help of anyone. This loneliness and fear also leads us into many avenues of false intimacy (such as pornography) in an attempt to make us feel better about being alone without really having to deal with the possibility of abandonment by another person.

The reason the loneliness becomes so great is because we are made for real relationships. We were not meant to be alone.

Maybe it is time for us to sign a new declaration; not one of independence but one of Inter-dependence. You may be asking yourself, ‘What is the difference?’ Well, interdependence is the radical notion that we really do need other people in order to survive in this world even after we ‘grow up’ and move out on our own. In fact, I am not sure that total independence even truly exists. Human beings perish without others. Even in subtle ways, we depend on one another. In the words of the writer Thomas Moore, ‘no man is an island’. This does not mean that you cannot do anything yourself or that there is no way to tell ‘Where I end and You begin,’ but that we must find the balance between allowing others to connect with us and help us, and what is the work that we have to do to help ourselves and others.

This is especially so when it comes to the addictive struggles that people may have. Addictions tend to isolate us from anyone who might find out what it is we struggle with. In fact Patrick Carnes says that the core beliefs of a person struggling with an addiction are ‘1) I am basically a bad, unworthy person, therefore 2) no one will love me as I am. 3) My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend upon others and 4) whatever the addiction is: it is my greatest need.’

All of these beliefs foster an atmosphere of isolation. If I am a bad person and no one will love me, then I must face the world alone and I cannot rely on anyone to help. In that isolation I begin to look for something that will always relieve my pain. An addiction becomes that one thing that will always but temporarily relieve the pain. The addiction, however, becomes a source of embarrassment which leads to a greater need to isolate and repeat the cycle. Those that love us the most (family, spouses, children and friends) are usually the ones that we push away the most and who feel the greatest effects of both the addiction and the isolation that it creates.

How can a ‘Declaration of Interdependence’ help someone in this situation? It is only in coming out of isolation and being willing to let someone else speak into your life that anyone can begin a road to recovery. Remember that from the very beginning God declared, ‘It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone.’ We need one another. In beginning the recovery process we cannot do it on our own. We need to be interdependent on others who have the same desire to change behavior so that heart change or faulty core belief change can happen. This is probably the reason that the first 5 steps in a 12 step program deal with opening ourselves up to God and to other people as the beginning of behavior change.

Think of it this way. Pretend that there are absolutely no mirrors or reflective surfaces in the world at all. How would you know what you look like? There would be no way for you to know unless someone else could tell you. The isolation brought on by addiction and the faulty core beliefs that encourage them take away our abilities to see our own reflection.

The purpose of interdependence is to allow someone else to tell us what we look like. God tells us that we are loved enough to die for. Other people can talk about the good things that they see in us that we have forgotten or never seen due to addictive isolation. When we grasp how much we are loved and have a greater sense of who we are and whose we are then and only then is recovery a road that is opened up to us. This road joins us to the heart of God who calls us His sons and daughters, and to the heart of others who walk with us on this road all the way home. Maybe today can be the beginning of your own celebration. The day that you signed your ‘Declaration of Interdependence’!

For help with alcohol or drug addiction, please call our Resource Center at (800) 639-5433.
For help with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.