Just How Independent Are You?



When author and sociologist Tony Campolo was little, walking to school by himself was not a wise option.

Who knew what might happen to a young boy?

Tony’s mother paid a neighbor girl, Harriet, five cents a day to make sure he arrived and returned safely.

This wounded his pride.

Why should a chunk of the Campolo net worth go to an outsider when he could take care of himself perfectly well?

Tony’s mom was not a pushover.

It took weeks of pleading before she finally released Harriet from her job.  She made Tony promise to be exceedingly careful.  He could have the nickel – as long as he put it into a bank account to buy Christmas presents for his sisters.

Tony never got into trouble, and hundreds of nickels stayed on the Campolo household asset sheet.

Years later, Tony still felt great about how things had turned out.

At a family gathering, long after his mother was gone, he boasted to his sisters that walking to school by himself was evidence of his independent spirit.

And it had definitely yielded superior presents for the two of them at Christmas.

They laughed out loud.

“Did you really think,” they asked, “that you went to school alone and came home alone?  Every day when you left the house, Mom followed you.  And when you came out of the school at the end of the day, she was there.  She always made sure you didn’t notice her.  But she was watching over you, just to make sure you were safe.”

Then they asked, “Didn’t you think it was strange that when you got home it took a minute for Mom to answer your knock at the front door?  That’s because she first had to run around to the back door.”

All those years, Tony had had the distinct impression he was taking care of himself.

But someone who treasured him was watching over him the whole time.

You may have the distinct impression that you’re bravely making your way through the world all alone – failing, succeeding, hurting, and hoping.

But God has provided mothers and fathers and teachers and mentors and colleagues to accomplish what he himself has been doing all along:

“The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:5-8).

May you rejoice in that one-of-a-kind reality this Mother’s Day weekend.

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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