Yesterday the sound of fireworks began before dark and went long into the night. It was nearing midnight when I finally thought I could call it a night and that my two dogs would be okay. I looked and the light was still on down at my folk’s place. They were probably having a rough night with their small dog as well. Poor thing is more terrified of the sounds than my two. It makes me dread tonight. I do wish I had known what a local town had planned. Their show was laser light and from what I saw online, it had to have been amazing being there to see in person. I saw comments that the fireworks show closer to home was really good, the best yet, I didn’t go to that either. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good pyrotechnic presentation, that is put on by professionals. Its the backyard bombers that don’t know when enough is enough that bother me. Especially when their personal show goes up into the early hours of the morning.
The Fourth of July, the birth of a country, the institution of independence. The reason for the celebration. There are more varied forms of independence though. Others of which there is also great importance.
Of course there is the coming of age independence of children coming of age and leaving the family home.
There is the independence of freeing oneself from the chains of financial mistakes and deep debt.
The independence from a life spent working day in and day out.
What is on my mind at the moment though, is finding independence from a bad relationship.
To begin with, it is true, there are warming signs. Not to be paranoid here, but offer a reminder, watch for them. Pay attention to the other person because they will show you their real self in various situations. See how they treat others, especially those in less than good situations and circumstances. Verbal insults and impolite comments are a warning. Watch how they treat animals. They don’t have to be an animal lover, but even if they aren’t, they should not mistreat them. Make it a point, to get to know a person well, before taking the step into a deeper relationship. There is no hurry, don’t allow anyone to make you think otherwise. Don’t listen to any voice in your head telling you that the warnings are unimportant. Do not under any circumstances believe you can change a person. Do not allow yourself, or them, to cause you to believe that this is the best you can find-don’t settle.
But say you did make the mistake of entering a bad relationship. Say you realized almost if not immediately that you had made a terrible error in judgement. Leave. Pack up if you can, but if you can’t just leave. Your safety is of the most importance. Don’t worry about how you will proceed until you are safe. If you have no family to go to, find a shelter. There is no shame. Shelters for women and women with children are meant to be a safe place. Some have the services to assist in finding a better life. Finding employment, a home, education. Some, will simply offer you a place to hide while you do what you must to get back on your feet.
Who am I to offer such advice? I am one who has been there. I was married before I met my now late husband- who I didn’t meet until after my escape. Yes, escape. An elaborate ruse that was set into motion because of a beating that I was determined would be my last. Which it almost was, but since it wasn’t, I can share my story.
My then husband who after only a short time of being married, was already showing a seriously cruel Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde personality. Turned out he was hiding a serious issue with alcoholism. He ended up moving us half way across the country to Louisiana. I was away from the safety of my family and everything I knew. While there were good days, every day also held its own nightmare. I saw a side of life that I had been protected from for all of mine. Up until then. I won’t go into everything, I would imagine that saying he was a mean drunk pretty much says it all.
The highlights would be the night of the surprise party on my birthday which ended up in a car doing around seventy on a neighborhood street, sliding through the intersection to start again. I managed to jump from the car and run in a moment when the car was almost stopped. I was shot at, twice, at close range. Then the beating. Being jumped from behind and enduring what seemed to go on forever. Watching the beating from a spot somewhere near the ceiling. Not feeling the blows. Only once it was over, to lift myself from the floor with a new determination.
I couldn’t get out of the apartment that day, but I could the next as I had to work. We were trying to survive off my one hundred dollar a week paycheck. I began making calls. I found out the bus schedule. I called my mother, they would send me a ticket not knowing the circumstances. I called someone and told a very blatant lie. I was planning a surprise party, would they help me get him out of the house? Tell him you had a flat tire, anything. Another neighbor took me and the suitcases I had managed to throw together to the bus station. I got my ticket and waited for the bus.
I had been betrayed though. Before the bus got there, he showed up. It became a weird circus of events that lead up to him grabbing my ticket and leaving the station. The ticket agent though had called the police who showed and asked where I had gotten the ticket. When I told them my mother, they went and got it back for me so I could board a bus that had arrived and waited. My last sight of him was him standing between two police officers. It was a long ride, one where I left many things behind. But the moment I stepped off that bus in my hometown I knew I had won my independence. I was now safe. I will admit that it did help me greatly that I was now so far away. It helped that he was afraid of my family. It helped, that I had been brought up in such a way to be strong. Something I had forgotten and still tend to forget from time to time. But I am getting better.
Because of an ever growing, ever strengthening faith, I am winning my independence from many of the earthly worries I have long held. I am getting stronger and better, even as I know I have a long way to go. Life is a journey. It is one filled with storms, trials, battles. We will move from hill top to valley and back again constantly. As we travel, learning the ways of independence from this life’s concerns, we move more toward a dependence on the love and teaching, the strength and peace of the Lord. It is a journey that will not end until the day when we draw that last breath. The day our time of being a sojourner is done and we go home.
The point that I was trying to make, is that we can find our independence from the things of this life that try to chain us down. The things and people which attempt to imprison us, stealing us away from actually living. The choice is ours. It must often won’t be easy. The struggles that come afterward will mean the rewards are hard earned. That doesn’t mean it is impossible. It means that we need learn where to place our strength, hopes and beliefs. It means understanding that there are times when God takes the ordinary and uses them in extraordinary ways to bring about our independence.