Dependence, Independence and Co-dependence

In our North American culture of independent thinking and live free ideology, I think we have lost our way as Christians. It is normal for a child to have a drive to try to do things themselves. They have the “me do it!” attitude. That is both good and bad. It is good in that they learn by hands on experience. When it gets bad is when they continue to have the attitude that they will do it by themselves even when they obviously cannot or even at times ought not to. The attitudes of our society, if adopted, can lead us into trouble.

We can become too independent. On the other hand, we can become too dependent. These are not mutually exclusive conditions. In fact, there is a third condition that can be down-right damaging. It is called co-dependency. Although this is not an exhaustive discourse, I would like to touch on each of those three conditions to which we can all become slaves.

Independence and dependence in balance can be healthy. But if I am so dependent that I cannot do anything for myself, yet I am able to do things if I put an effort into it, I become a slave to those who do for me. For example: If I am on government assistance and could earn enough to live on, if I wanted to and was physically capable, I am slave to the governmental system, committing fraud against the government and the taxpayers, and losing my own integrity as a valued participant of society. At the same time, I am creating a trap for myself emotionally and psychologically. On the other hand, If I am not able to work no matter how hard I try, and I refuse to receive help from anyone, I can be causing harm to myself, my children or spouse as I allow them to go hungry, live in rags, or go homeless where there is little protection from the elements and danger from those who would prey on the less fortunate. Both scenarios are unhealthy.

Co-dependency is a situation where people enmesh their lives emotionally to the point that everything that is done or said is to try to control the situation or relationship, but neither party is able to maintain control to their satisfaction. This often leads to abusive relationships and domestic violence. If you find yourself in this situation, get help as soon as possible. This situation is a no win scenario. Everyone loses physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The ideal is to develop relationships that honor and respect each other without the need to control the other person’s life. Be dependent enough to develop relationships that serve each other but do not need to be served. It is a mutual service that allows each to be who God created them to be, lifting each other up to be better members of society. God created us for community and fellowship to help each other grow. Be independent enough that we all enter into what makes our lives and others’ better, richer and more fulfilled. Think for yourself so that you can lead when needed and follow when needed. Work so that you can contribute more than for self-gain. There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money. But is it so that you can collect things and not contribute, or is it so that you can contribute where it is needed while taking care of your family?

I learned a good term and practice from my sister. We need to do daily “heart checks” to make sure our attitudes, motives and actions are godly and pleasing to the Lord. Is there anything in my heart that I need to confess as wrong to the Lord? Have I done anything that displeases God? Have I sinned against someone today that I need to make right? Am I living in such a way that others who see me will be able to say, “That is a child of God. I would like to have that kind of godly relationship.?” Am I so dependent that I am misusing a system or person? If so, how can I change that? Am I so independent that I am causing harm to others or myself physically, emotionally or spiritually? Have I isolated myself from people or God with my independence? Am I demanding or hurtful to others? Am I controlling situations and others unnecessarily creating a co-dependent relationship? Have I reacted in a way that does not please God? There are so many other questions we can ask ourselves depending on our situation and heart attitudes.

Why am I discussing this topic today? Because the Lord has convicted me on several levels. I think all three conditions indicate that we have control issues. We want to be in control. The truth is that we all can relate to something I have said here if we are honest. The only way we can truly be in control of our lives is to give that control to Jesus Christ. He wants us to be totally dependent on Him. He wants us to use our brains and physical strength to serve Him. He wants our whole heart; mind will and emotions, body soul and spirit. Until we humble ourselves and give control to Him, we will not be happy. Nor will we be truly in control until we give control to Christ. That seems counter intuitive, but it really works.

Micah 6:8 says “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

If we want all the control, we cannot do what God really wants us to do. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that God, as our creator and savior, wants what is best for us.

Jer 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Since He knows what is best for us and wants what is best for us, and He is God, we can trust Him to give us the freedom and peace we seek if we follow the principles in scripture which will lead us there.

If you struggle with any of these things, please seek help from a godly person who can guide you in the right direction to freedom.

Many blessings to you all!