girl alone

Independence is Not Freedom

As a granddaughter of immigrants, I was raised to appreciate the price of freedom. America’s journey to become free from the tyranny of England began with the Declaration of Independence.

A lot of blood was shed in the process. But I’ve learned that independence is not freedom.

I appreciate the desire to come out from under another’s control.

I did this personally.


How we start

Dependence as a baby is natural and good.

Humans are born dependent. It’s a matter of life and death that adults (hopefully parents) take care of, nurture and support their children.

But slowly an inner declaration of independence emerges in the ego. It begins with pushing the parent away, not wanting to be held or saying no. It increases as the child grows.

When the teenage years come, the inner declaration pushes even good things away.

How this push back is met by those with authority affects how the child learns to relate.

Overbearing authority forcing unquestioned compliance brings either rebellion or subservience.


The need for change

Neither rebellion nor subservience is good for anyone.

When a child becomes a teenager the need for complete dependency is gone and the teen instinctively knows it.

Something does need to change. But what?

This is when many talk about the need for a growing independence.

But that’s wrong. A teen doesn’t need independence.


The wrong way to freedom

Independence is bad.


No man is an island.

Independence by definition is separation and autonomy.

Independence has created loneliness.

Humans were not created to function independently but relationally.

From the beginning, the demand for independence brought death.

From the beginning, the demand for independence brought death. Click To Tweet


What you need


It’s a new word in my vocabulary and dynamic in all my relationships.

Growing up I was taught to fear God and comply or else! It was scary and oppressive. It poisoned my life.

I was subservient until I made a personal declaration of independence. But my independence didn’t bring freedom, it brought misery.

I needed to learn interdependence and didn’t even know the word existed.

I love the book (& movie) The Shack for many reasons. The way William Paul Young tells how humanity’s declaration of independence from God is the source of all our troubles is epic, and I believe it.


Why you need it

We are created for relationship.

Humans were not created to be independent or autonomous. In the Bible where it records God planning to create man, we discover something.

It says. Let us make man in our image. Us.

God is a relational being in and of Himself. No wonder psychology documents that we are relational creatures.

It’s how we were designed from the beginning. It’s in our DNA.

We cannot escape it. Yet we try.

We have the internal declaration of independence which I’ve come to the conclusion is the entire basis of what sin actually is.

Sin isn’t a behavior. It’s a choice to live independent, disconnected from the source of life. The disconnection causes all our poor and harmful behaviors.

It takes courage to be truly free. Click To Tweet


It takes courage to be truly free

Interdependence is a higher stage of development.

Failure to grasp and nurture this feeds the loneliness that accompanies independence when relationship is needed.

Failure to grasp it also feeds an unnatural dependency or codependency.

It takes bravery to be interdependent. Click To Tweet

It takes bravery to be interdependent.

In it, we must make ourselves vulnerable and give up our independence.  To see through the eyes of the other.

It is designed to be beautiful.

Contrary to what many churches have taught, the relationship Jesus came to restore was interdependence – not dependence.

Dependence – focuses on YOU – rely on or be controlled by another.

Independence – focuses on I – freedom from control or support.

Interdependence – focuses on WE – mutually reliant.

Interconnection, interrelationship, linkage, kin, relationship, alliance.

Interdependence yields to another in loving freedom. There is a mutual needing and sharing.

There is relationship, not dominion or separation.

This is true in interpersonal relationships but also with our Creator who loves us so deeply.

Consider these words from The Shack. (emphasis is mine)

Evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light or death to describe the absence of Life. Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can only draw upon yourself. That is death because you have separated yourself from me: Life. ~Sarayu

All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I get to keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all. ~Papa

Your world is severely broken. You demanded your independence, and now you are angry with the One who loved you enough to give it to you. ~Papa

My life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to ‘be like Jesus’, it means for your independence to be killed. I came to give you life, real life, my life. We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But we will never force that union on you. ~Jesus


Jesus invites us to come into relationship, to be interdependent. He has everything we need. But the ego of mankind declares independence, wants to go it alone, like a three-year-old crying I can do it myself.

It’s not uncommon to hear people say you should believe in God. But did you know that He believes in you?

ego book quote

What do you think of this?

Is this new information?

Have you declared your independence or found yourself in the dependence mode?

Let me know in the comments how this made you feel.

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4 thoughts on “Independence is Not Freedom

  1. I really enjoyed this piece. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s okay to reach out to others for help. I used to feel like I was “burdening” people, but I’ve realized more and more that people want to hear from me, and in fact, bottling up my problems will only make them worse in the long run.

    1. Thank you, Kate. I’ve finally learned that lesson also. It’s so true – people want to help and trying to carry everything alone will harm us. Thank you for sharing.

  2. As someone who relies on others for independence, I know there is power in sharing our vulnerabilities with others. Physical strength does not make us strong. Allowing others to see us as we are, faults and all, is what forges deeper connection.

    1. Amen to deeper connections!
      And your reliance on others for independence sounds like interdependence! 🙂
      Thanks for sharing Dee.

Please share your thoughts!