The Folly of Independence

Posted: June 5, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

“I’ve paced myself pretty well. I’m 30, I’ve seen some cool stuff. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself. That’s a really cool sentence when you’re in your 20s, right? “I made it happen for myself.” But all that means is that I’ve just somehow or another found a way to synthesize love”

These words are from John Mayer, renowned contemporary guitarist and singer/songwriter. It’s an excerpt from a little introduction he gives to a song called Bold as Love, telling about how he’s tried everything: buying lots of cool things, shutting himself off from people, and “making happen for himself” more than most 20/30-year-olds could imagine. Yet he found all these pursuits empty, and tells the audience confidently that he is going to experiment with Love…real “I got your back” kind of love. Now, I assume, because he’s making relationship with fallen human beings the bedrock of his life, that this pursuit will end up being added to the list of things he’s tried and found lacking in his ultimate quest for real fulfillment. However, I want to zoom in on the third thing he mentioned trying, and that is following the independent route.

“I made a lot of things happen for myself.” Mayer sees the ultimate insignificance of this statement. It’s as if he saying “Yeah, I did a lot of cool stuff and earned a lot of fame and money on my own, so what? Who cares? I’m not any better off for it.” Independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Mayer epitomized it, and turned his back on it. It’s overrated.

Are you trying to build your life on being independent? Do you have some subtle inclination to make things happen for yourself to find some definition of character or satisfaction with life? Do you ever think, like I have, “Man, if I could just be really good or well-known for one thing, just one thing, that would be amazing.” I think of how incredible it would be to be an admired drummer or a prominent author or anything else that would somehow distinguish me from the mass of humanity that occupies this planet. But if anyone is distinguished from the crowd, it’s John Mayer. Already, at such a young age, he’s admired for his skill and technique on the guitar. But he seems to echo Solomon in calling it all “vanity of vanities, a chasing after the wind.”

We’re not meant to be happy living independently.

Think about where you would be without the aid of the friends and family God has given you as gifts (even those you wish came with a gift receipt). The very idea of independence that we esteem so highly in America is frankly ridiculous. We’re dependent on a father and mother to be born, to be fed, to be nourished through infancy. We depend on them for food and shelter until we’re, say, 20 years old, give or take a few years (hopefully!). Even when we’re able to move out, we’re dependent on an employer to pay our salary so that we can buy food from wholesalers who made the food we wouldn’t know how to make on our own. We buy houses that were built by people because most of us don’t know how to build houses. We buy cars and hire mechanics because we don’t possess the knowledge or supplies to build and maintain a suitable vehicle. We call 911 and visit doctors and dentists and hire babysitters and google information people have posted and read books to acquire knowledge. And even if we decided to become hermits and hunt our own food and rig our own shelter to live on the vegetation, we would still depend on God for our every breath and footstep.

We couldn’t be independent if we wanted to!

So, let’s stop trying.

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Comments
  1. Laurie says:

    Good words.
    Grrr! when that independent streak rears its ugly head even though I know the truth of God dependence. I know the truth. But I’m still learning the long lesson of obedience and joy of living in the truth.

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