What Does Freedom Mean to You? An Open Letter to My Daughters
What a rich and full life we have shared up until now. Over the past 20-plus years, I have watched you grow into the beautiful young women you are today. From dressing you up as toddlers to helping you identify your dreams as teenagers and then pursue them as young adults, I took great joy in watching you come to believe that life was your stage and you, its playwright.
In spite of all the blessing, I fear I may have failed you. Somehow in between dance competitions, soccer practices, swim meets, and musical theater rehearsals, I may have neglected to instill into you a fierce devotion to the one thing that made all of our self-actualizing pursuits possible. That one thing is freedom.
The American Dream
I do not fault you for the national prosperity you were born into; it was where and when God placed you in human history. But be aware, girls: with inherited prosperity comes a beguiling invitation to reap where you did not sow, and harvest where you did not plant. This in itself is not evil, though perhaps addictive. For how would you know to appreciate the blessings you reaped unless you first esteemed the sacrifice of the sower who went before you?
As a nation and as a family, we have eaten the Bread of Opportunity to our heart’s content and drank the Cup of Peace and Prosperity for our fill of The American Dream. I must now question whether the overindulgence has led us into a deep coma of comfort. I am confronted by hard questions like, “Did I become intoxicated with the thought that good times would roll on forever, and that somehow our generations would escape the worst of humanity’s ills with just the smell of smoke, yet never truly going through the fire itself? Did I cash in on freedom’s blessings without having paid freedom’s price?”
Up until today, your young lives have barely even smelled the smoke, and you are now three generations removed from the great fires of world war and global depression. You have not been called upon to fight for the most basic and essential cornerstone upon which all the others are built. Freedom, to you, is a given, not a gift. A birthright for which you must decide its value.
May God Empower You to Choose Wisely
I entreat Almighty God that He will empower you to choose wisely and to choose well. That none of you will be “unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (Hebrews 12: 16-17). Esau’s birthright enabled him to enjoy all the position and privilege of the firstborn, entitling him to a double portion of the paternal inheritance. As the eldest, Esau already possessed what he needed to protect him, promote him, empower him, and endow him to live his life unhindered.
He had everything, except tragically, the value of the ONE thing: the birthright itself. Esau was too busy pursuing what Esau wanted that when he came in from the field, “he was exhausted” (Genesis 25:30). How often does our chasing of self-aggrandizing pursuits bring us to exhaustion as well! It made Esau hungry, vulnerable, and susceptible to arguably the worst decision of his life. In a weak moment rooted in temporal, appetite-appeasing yet transient satisfaction, he declared, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” And just like that, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup. What a cheap exchange for so costly a pearl of great price!
The Birthright of Your Freedom
I close this letter with an earnest challenge: What is the birthright of your freedom worth to you? When the status-quo of your world is threatened — and it will be — what price are you willing to pay to ensure freedom is preserved for you and the ones who come after you? Would you so easily exchange it for the promise of continued peace, prosperity, and passing pleasure? Anything to make your immediate hunger for “normal” satiated? And what if that exchange came at the cost of dismantling the foundation? In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
My sincere hope is that this will not be you, my daughters. You have grace to stand. You have hearts to discern. Because of Christ Jesus, when the time comes, you will not be “of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39). You will be like Jacob — not Esau — laying hold and holding fast to the birthright and the blessing. And to freedom, which is always worth fighting for.
Be brave always,
Annemarie McLean is a four-girl mom, freelance writer, and co-founder of Brave & Beautiful, a ministry focused on challenging young women to live purpose-driven lives full of courage and character, while developing Christ-centered inner beauty. In 2012, she also founded 3D Missions, an international outreach taking the Gospel to the nations through the performing arts. Annemarie holds a journalism degree from Oral Roberts University, with post-graduate work in organizational leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University.