This weekend marks a terrible anniversary for our wonderful nation. All of us who are old enough can vividly remember what we were doing 20 years ago on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It is difficult to capture all of the feelings and emotions stirred by that tragic series of events, but I know that thinking about our country and how unique it is deeply stirs my heart. Here is my love letter as a grateful daughter - of wonderful parents, a tremendous nation, and a loving God...
For the past year or so, I have been loving the fact that I have been adopted into a fun and long-standing Friday golf group. Everyone else in the group, which includes my own mother and father, was born before the middle of World War II. Also, everyone in this golf group can soundly smash my score every single week - they are all really good at golf. They are in excellent shape, and inspire me every week to strive to be healthy and to take good care of myself. I want to play golf like they do today, let alone in 30 more years.
I think this is truly remarkable! In the entire history of the world, has there ever been a cohort in which the 80-year-old great-grandmothers and fathers are still amazing athletes? I think not. Though we are facing many troubles and concerns as a nation today, we must not forget what it is that has made this unique era possible. This is a perfect time to stop and reflect on what a special place and time this is.
The United States of America is a great experiment; never before has there been a nation founded upon the premise that regular men and women can be trusted to govern themselves. Of course, that grand idea comes with an important catch. As President John Adams wrote in 1798, "... we have no Government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or galantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
The country was founded on many Biblical principles, the most important and far-reaching of which being that all are created in the image of God. Not just some men, but every man, regardless of the color of his skin, the place of his birth, the amount of land he might own, or the contents of his wallet. Not only every man, but every woman, too - and every boy and every girl. Every person is equally precious and valuable, that means that everyone has the birthright to enjoy the same opportunities, protections, rights, and freedoms. Historically and practically speaking, this is unheard of, which is why people from all over the world wish to be a part of this nation.
We were also founded upon the principle of personal responsibility. The Bible teaches that each person is seen and known by God and will someday be judged for their own actions, thoughts, and motives. This has created a society built upon and sustained by personal morality. Deeply woven into the fabric of this society are the teachings of Jesus Christ:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these." - Mark 12: 30-31 and
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 7:12
These ideals uphold our justice system, our government, our education system, and our ideas of liberty and equality. We do not cheat or steal because God sees all, and because we would not want to be cheated or stolen from. We treat people well because God sees all, and because we want to be treated well. We take care of those weaker, older, younger, and less fortunate than ourselves because God sees all, and because we would want to be taken care of in those situations. The implications of these beliefs are plentiful and their roots run deep.
Our nation was built on the backs of strong families, created within the framework of a New Testament conception of marriage - monogamous, faithful, and loving. These men and women, and their many children, did what it took to leave familiar civilization to carve out a better life in the wilderness of a new world. As they moved west across the continent, they brought with them a deep commitment to God and to one another, and an incredible work ethic that built a new and prosperous nation.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French magistrate who came to America forty years after the failed French Revolution. He visited on official business, but used his time to conduct an unofficial investigation into what made American democracy successful. His findings were published in a two-volume work titled Democracy in America, and he wrote,
"I have recorded so many considerable achievements of the Americans, if anyone asks me what I think the chief cause of the extraordinary prosperity and growing power of this nation, I should answer that it is due to the superiority of their women."
What an interesting observation! By the 1830's, the ladies of America already understood that it changes absolutely everything when everyone is considered equally precious in God's sight. This brings me right back around to the exceptional women in my golf group. They, and we who follow behind them, have benefitted from 240+ years of a nation learning and expressing what it actually means for every person to be equally valuable in God's sight and in society. This is still very new in human civilization - we are still learning and growing, and we have much room yet to grow, but what a long way we have all come! Again, it is hard to state how different and how much better this generation of women live compared to all others before them, and compared to so many others around the world still.
I know my mother's story well, and it is representative of many in her cohort. She was born to loving. committed, faithful Christian parents, and raised with the deeply held belief that she, a youngest daughter, was a treasured gift from God. She was protected, educated, and valued, and played every sport and joined every club she liked. When she was finished with high school, she was allowed to choose her husband when she was ready and willing to do so. My father has loved her and cherished her, and has been faithful to her and to his marriage vows. He worked hard to support his family, and left his wife free to work if she liked, to volunteer when and where she chose, and to be an active member in the community.
In that safe and loving environment, they raised two daughters. They loved and cherished us, and also believed that we were treasured gifts from God. They supported us, encouraged us, educated us, and helped us know and believe that God had made us and that He loved us deeply. They drove us all over the place for swim meets and softball games and cross country races, they helped us with school projects, they listened to us and gave us wise counsel. They encouraged us to pursue higher education, and generously footed the bill. When we were old enough and when we were ready, they allowed us to choose our husbands. They have been our greatest cheerleaders and supporters, and have helped us to fly and flourish in every way. My sister has a beautiful family, two degrees, and a decorated life of public service. I also have a beautiful family, a degree, and am an ordained minister. There has never been a time or place in all of history where women were afforded such opportunity and status!
On this special and somber weekend, as all of us deeply reflect on our special nation, may God help us to recommit ourselves to Him. May we truly be people who love Him, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. May we pledge ourselves to be faithful to God, to our spouses, and to our children, and may we do all in our power to protect and promote the next generation in every neighborhood. May we not give up on the dream of the beautiful experiment called the United States of America, striving to see every person reach their full potential in this great land of opportunity and freedom.
God bless America!
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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