“In the park we step on this bright shiny red merry-go-round. Everyone is happy and ready for a lot of love, fun and a great future.”
But then something happens. A pattern has emerged. There seems to be something very binding about your relationship. You feel like you are in prison and you can’t get out.
Codependency is living the myth that you can make yourself happy by trying to control people and events outside yourself. A sense of control or lack of control is central to everything you do and think.
Psalms 139:14 says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are unique. You have dignity and worth. As you grow in this knowledge you will no longer need to use your codependent behavior to make you feel alive and worthwhile. You WILL recover………
There has been a lot of confusion on what real love is. On the surface, codependency sounds like “Christian teaching.”
Codependents always put each other first before taking care of themselves. (Aren’t Christians to put others first?)
Codependents give themselves away. (Shouldn’t Christians do the same?)
Codependents martyr themselves. (Christianity honors its martyrs.)
But true codependents aren’t really healthy, giving people. They learn to get their validity from other people rather than from Jesus! And they hinder those people they try to “fix” in their lives and their walk with God.
It is actually the opposite of God’s love!
In its broadest sense, codependency can be defined as an addiction to people, behaviors, or things. Codependency is the fallacy of trying to control inner feelings by controlling people, things, and events on the outside. To the codependent, control or the lack of it is central to every aspect of life.
” Then Denial, Delusion, Justification, Rationalizations,
Reverse Projection… emerge…these are all signs and symptoms of a co-dependent and addicted personality…”
Jesus taught the value of the individual.
He said we are to love others equal to ourselves, not more than ourselves. In fact, it is the 2nd commandment after loving God with all your heart, mind, and body.
“ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”Mark 12:31
The love of self forms the basis for loving others in the truest sense of the word.
The differences between a life of service to others and codependency take several forms. Motivation differs.
Do you give your service freely or because you consider yourself to be of no value?
Do you seek to “please people?”
Do you act out of guilt or fear?
Do you act out a need to be needed (which means you actually use the other person to meet your own needs)?
In their book, “Love is a Choice”, Drs. Hemfelt, Minirth & Meir” state that “Codependency can be defined as an addiction to people, behaviors, or things. Codependency is the fallacy of trying to control interior feelings by controlling people, things, and events on the outside. To the codependent, control, or the lack of it, is central to every aspect of life. When it comes to people, the codependent has become so elaborately enmeshed in the other person that the sense of self— personal identity — is severely restricted, crowded out by that other person’s identity and problems.”
I see signs of codependency in many clients who come to me with relationship problems…they are worn out and exhausted and feel trapped in a relationship that makes them feel totally controlled.
The Lord has shown me that when we can’t put up our personal boundaries and we continue to rescue people by rushing in when they have a need and become their Savior, we are actually not only deceiving ourselves, but we allow the other person to make YOU their Jesus instead of them learning to turn to God to meet their needs.
In fact, we enable them to continue on with their neediness in our lives and drain us of our energy-while we take the place of Jesus….and they never get their needs met.
There will always be another episode of control if someone doesn’t get off of the Merry Go Round and say “enough of this.”
When no one gets off, the Merry Go Round spins faster and faster until it is out of control. When the crisis is over then everyone is remorseful and say their sorry until the next ride. And it begins again.
When the addicted person continues the same behavior over and over again expecting a different ending, and we make threats or promises that we don’t keep… it is insanity.
Someone has to keep their promise and follow through in order to stop the Merry Go Round.
This is not about confrontation, this is about stopping the cycle.
You are aware that you do this but you have gotten away with it for so long that you have developed a false power. In the midst of your pain.
Do you see these tendencies in yourself? Or in someone who is reaching out to you?
Have you asked God to bring this into the light so you can deal with it or help someone else?
You know as well as I that it is never easy to expose darkness.
But if you want freedom again, you have to get off the Merry-Go-Round once and for all.
If you will take this issue to Jesus, you will find that:
We have worth simply because we were created by God.
Our self-worth is not based on the work we do or the service we perform–but on what Jesus so freely gives us.
Our service is to be an active choice. You can learn to “act” rather than “react.”
Our faith shows how to live a balanced living and how to take care of ourselves.
As you seek His wisdom you will learn to choose balanced behavior rather than addictive behavior and to allow others to be in charge of their own lives
You can learn how to set and hold healthy boundaries and to set limits for yourself, not allowing others to compromise those boundaries.
You can actually learn to help others in appropriate ways, by allowing others to act independently, rather than making others dependent on you.
You can learn to be God-directed and free from compulsiveness, knowing that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, brings the ultimate results.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal 5:1
(If this blog has left you feeling like you need help with codependency tendencies in your life, you might want to consider Life Coaching! Contact me through my home page.)
When I posted this picture on face book a few days ago it so resonated with my soul–my life has been so like this illustration and I know yours has too….the more I thought about it however, the more I kept asking myself if I, indeed, can consider my life pure joy. Or have I been caught up in looking at the depth of pain and the depth of trials and sometimes pure craziness in my life, and thought, “Why the heck me, Lord.” Have I not sown into your Kingdom? When is my time coming?
Yes, I am really being transparent here.
“Haven’t I served you all my life? Why so much suffering. Starting from my childhood of abuse and ending up here, years later….still struggling for a reprieve.”
Woe is me.
Don’t we just get so wrapped up in ourselves sometimes?
I like what Michelle Perry says: “Storms are invitations to dance with Jesus. When you get high enough above the squall, even the most turbulent storm has beauty. And every storm has lessons.” Michelle Perry!
The scripture is actually in James 1:2-4:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The answer is yes, I have, at times, been caught up in feeling sorry for myself at times and even justifying my right to do so.
We have these preconceived notions in our heads as to how our lives will be, and when it doesn’t fit our pictures we feel frustrated and defeated. Have we ever considered that the Lord has a different plan for us than what we thought?
Maybe the very trials we are in now are what is training us for the journey right into His plan for us in the next season……
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.” Galatians 6:9
Jesus tells us over and over in this life we will face many adversities and trials and temptations.
We cannot get through this life without Jesus, friends. I don’t know how people who have no trust in Him do it. Do they just give way to fear?
Yes, I think so.
Without our faith in Jesus to guide, protect, and rescue us…without Him to rush to in times of pain and grief….without knowing His extreme love for us, who do we turn to?
And what about this scenario? When it looks like everyone around you is being blessed and seeing the fulfillment of God’s blessings in their lives and yet, you are still struggling and nothing is happening. What do you do with that. Well, in Psalm 37: 1-11 it says:
Do not trouble yourself because of sinful men. Do not want to be like those who do wrong. 2 For they will soon dry up like the grass. Like the green plant they will soon die. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good. So you will live in the land and will be fed. 4 Be happy in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Give your way over to the Lord. Trust in Him also. And He will do it. 6 He will make your being right and good show as the light, and your wise actions as the noon day.
So, we hold on and bear up under the pressures of life and make a choice to put on perseverance…which is a fruit of the Spirit that He freely gives us when we ask for it.
We WILL reap what we have sown if we don’t give up!
And look at this as Psalm 37 continues:
Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him. Do not trouble yourself when all goes well with the one who carries out his sinful plans. 8 Stop being angry. Turn away from fighting. Do not trouble yourself. It leads only to wrong-doing. 9 For those who do wrong will be cut off. But those who wait for the Lord will be given the earth. 10 A little while, and the sinful man will be no more. You will look for his place, and he will not be there. 11 But those who have no pride will be given the earth. And they will be happy and have much more than they need.”
Do we believe this? This is why we have to be diligent in His word and in talking to Him.
It boils down to a choice. Not a feeling!
I choose to believe that in due season I will reap if I faint not…
I can feel it in my very bones. How about you?
Are you ready to give up?
Hebrews 12:2 in the Message says it this way: “ Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Because I am a healed survivor of my own past of childhood abuse….
I once again feel the need to speak up on behalf of that group of people that even the church tries to shush up…because the disclosure is so uncomfortable for them…so it is easier to sweep it under the rug and pretend we don’t know these things are happening every day.
When are we going to start confronting the elephant in the room that most will ignore and pretend it is not there?
Silencing victims by saying that this shouldn’t be talked about, or should remain within families, says to a victim that this is something to be ashamed of.
That they are in fact damaged goods.
When these crimes are called out and discussed in a public forum, the offender alone should bear both the responsibility and the shame. These matters need to be discussed not only for prevention, but also for healing.
Victims need to be heard. They need to be believed. They need to know that what happened was not their fault. We bear witness to their suffering when we give them a voice.
The only way we can ever hope to stop abuse is if we are willing to talk about it and admit that it happens. We need to allow them to speak out! To be transparent without fear of reprisal or shame or embarrassment. We also need to acknowledge that the Christian community is not exempt from this horror. But it is not something that is often spoke about or expose within the church gatherings.
I believe this will change.
As Ann Voscamp so adequately puts it, “Because People of the Church are to be those who stand up so safe places open up, who lead by always going lower, who expose and confront abuse everywhere they find it, so the hope of the Gospel can be of use anywhere it goes.
Because People of the Cross are to be witnesses for the suffering, and responders to the victims, and testifiers of Truth, no matter the cost, no matter the risk, because Christ is The Truth — and where there isn’t Truth, there isn’t Christ. Why ever hide or cover-up the Truth?”
And to those still walking in their victimhood:
Our wounds from childhood abuse bring messages with them…they have a common theme of “your worthless, you have no value, you are a flawed person, no one will love you, you are ugly” ….
And when those wounds were delivered to you with such pain, they felt true.
They pierced your heart.
So, you accepted the message as fact. You embraced the worthless verdict on yourself.
The vows of silence we made as children act like a deep seated agreement with the messages of our wounds. Because it was all about survival. There was nothing else that could penetrate that agreement with our pain. The vows we made acted like a kind of covenant with the messages that came with our deep wounds.
We know that the word tells us where 2 or 3 agree on a matter it shall be done. This can work in the negative as well. When we, as victims of our past, set ourselves in agreement with the enemy that there is something wrong with us, we begin to live in exactly that place.
Those childhood vows are very dangerous things. They change the course of our life.
We have to renounce the messages as lies ….it is the way to unlock the door to Jesus. Agreements lock the door from the inside. Renouncing the agreements unlocks the door to Him….
He will move into those heavily veiled places within our soul and be there with us in that place of pain and abuse…..and deliver us and heal us from the past. I don’t know how He does it. But I can attest to the fact that He does.
Because he did for me!
(If you want to read my story of being a child victim of incest, you can find my memoir “Climbing Out of the Box.” on Amazon.)
To you precious abuse survivors reading this:
Never forget that there is hope for healing. Although life after trauma is messy and working through the pain is difficult, it is absolutely worth the fight.
May you rest in the hope of a God who cradles his wounded children in his arms as his own body is wracked with tears for the suffering you have endured.
And He will heal you to the point that the past will not affect your future.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young. Is. 40:11
Jesus I give myself to you. I give my life to you. I surrender me…totally and completely. Forgive all my hurtful ways. Forgive my self- protecting ways and all of my chasing after other comforters. Come and be my savior, healer, my love……
(If you are a survivor of childhood abuse and haven’t worked through the steps to healing please contact me for coaching on my home page above or leave a comment here.)
Have you ever suffered from burn out? I have and when I was in the middle of it I didn’t know what was going on…until I talked with a friend, who happens to be a therapist, and she said it sounded like I was suffering burn-out.
I felt like everything was the same as always, but, in actuality I had been experiencing major blows of loss, emotionally, in my personal life….family, and disappointments and lack…that just kept happening with no end in sight.
And still is, actually.
And when this happens we know that we don’t fight flesh and blood but evil wickedness in high places. But knowing is not enough. We still feel exhausted and weak. One after another I felt like my walls of strength were being beat upon by an enemy who is trying to beat me down to the point of just not caring anymore.
It seemed like everyone else was experiencing changes, good changes, in their lives. To me, watching them, I felt as if life was moving for them and for me it stands still.
And will it ever change?
Your head says one thing and your heart knows better, but you just feel
tired and kind of don’t care anymore. Even though I know we are on a journey and being at this place is only preparing me for good things ahead it still “feels” tiring.
So, have you been there? Or are you there right now?
You just want to go to bed. Or just zone out in a book. (which can be good depending on what you are reading.)
Here are the 4 things I have found that is really helping me with this struggle and I think they may help you too:
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we choose to respond. It really goes back to the choice doesn’t it?
In those moments when I choose to stop complaining and instead give thanks to God for the good in my life, the parts that seem bad start to seem much less significant. Choose to keep a positive attitude and thankful heart regardless of what you’re going through. Just keep standing and waiting.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Remember that your struggles always lead to strength and faith. Every difficulty in your life, whether big or small, is something God will use to produce more strength, faith and perseverance in you if you let Him! All your pain has a purpose.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Remember that God’s timing is always perfect.
God’s plans are almost always different from our plans, but His plans are always perfect! Have the patience to wait on His timing instead of forcing your own.
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
Remember that God will never leave your side.
You may feel like you’re going through this struggle all alone, but from the moment you invite Jesus into your day and your particular situation, He will be by your side to the end so never lose hope!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
I have had some hard things to let go of over the last several years. Of course, embedded within us when the enemy tries to destroy us, where thorns and thistles prosper, we earthlings will always have those things nearby to remind us that this place in no permanent home. We long for a better country.
I believe in God’s faithfulness in raising to life what is dead. I have seen it and I have experienced it. Then I remembered the life giving force of Jesus, alive and well in the lives of all those I reach out to in coaching….
…and I thought how sometimes we have to accept what has died or refused to come to life or produce a whit of fruit…
Instead of staring at it for months on end as a monument to our loss, we sometimes need to cut it down, pile it up, move it out or let it burn.
Because often God chooses to resurrect something that has died.
But other times He wants us to call it what it is – dead – and let it go, knowing that He is good. He cannot fail to be good.
That’s what Jesus said He does with what, over the proof of time, does not remain. It is “thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up.” (John 15:6)
He “takes away every branch that does not bear fruit” and He “prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)
He’s all about the fruit.
That doesn’t mean you forget. Some things are too big to forget. But I’m learning to quit begging him to bring back to life those things He wants me to let go of.
Trying to resuscitate what’s not coming back to life just leaves you out of breath.
God will not leave us comfortless. He will not leave us alone. He will not leave us fruitless. He will either resurrect the dead or grow something brand new.
I say this to you with deep compassion and empathy if you have experienced burn out from so many things changing or are just plain gone….
..if it is gone, let it go.
And I know with all my heart and all my faith that something new is coming. Both for you and for me. Nothing stays the same forever.
We are on a journey and sometimes we have to descend into the valley before we get to the mountain.
I need to give myself space to feel what I feel. And you will surely – as surely as God is faithful and Jesus is the fleshing out of life itself – live to see something you couldn’t have expected. Something hanging on could never have given you.
We’re here too brief a time on earth to spend days on end grieving what could have been. We’ll talk to Jesus about that when we get Home. We’ll have forever then. For now…
Let it go.
So something new can grow.
Water it with your tears if you must but release your fears that nothing but nothingness is ahead for you. Is God your God? As sure as He is, new life is coming.
All the deadness did not manage to kill you.
You are stronger than you thought. Stretch out your arms like mighty branches even if, for now, they’re little twigs.
The room was very dark as the movie played on a huge screen right in front of my face. I had never watched the Lord of the Rings series, and since my ankle hurt that day, I decided to ride the bike in the gym’s movie room instead of the treadmill in another area of the gym.
I fumbled in the dark and felt my way to just the right bike for me and because I couldn’t see, just coming out of the bright light, finally was able to punch in the right speed and time for my ride.
I had come in right in the middle of the movie but thought it would give me a good idea of whether I would like it or not and serve to hold my attention while I pumped out the miles.
Unfortunately for me I came in right when these humongous, ravenous demon wolf-type things, with what could only be demons themselves on their backs, were attacking the good army and demolishing them with their ravenous, canine teeth that were bloody and black.
The scene went on and on until I thought that I just wasn’t listening to God by picking this room for my exercise routine that day.
I was dodging and ducking as these demons jumped into the camera with bloody drool dripping. As I sat there peddling, I couldn’t help but be thinking I had to get out of there.
I needed peace–not whatever this was.
But in the midst of this horror and my attempt to leave the room, God spoke to me.
Ever have that happen? In the most unlikely place that you would expect, He speaks.
One time he spoke to me in a bar bathroom (I was there for a talent show my friend took me too, in case you’re wondering if I hang out at bars), and I was shocked at the time….but that is another story.
“I am looking, Lord. I don’t like it.”
“Look at the warriors in the good army.”
The warriors fought with everything in them. Every time one good guy was attacked by a demon wolf, (I am sure this dark army had a name but it escaped me), he fought back and with great warfare and managed to kill a great number of them. But more would come and render some of the slower guys to pieces. It seems though, that the more the good guys fought the more they were attacked by the demons of hell itself.
In the end the good guys won and the demons were dead…to only return at a later time in the movie. I knew Jesus wanted me to see something about my own life in this illustration He was showing me.
“Dixie, isn’t this what you have been experiencing in your life recently?”
I began to see what He was showing me. First of all, He was reassuring me that He knew exactly what I was experiencing and was with me on the journey, but was teaching me more about extreme spiritual warfare.
Starting about 6 months ago, all hell has broke loose within my personal life and those I love. Just as one thing was fought through and seemingly won, another thing would happen that would literally shock and sweep me off my spiritual feet.
I have literally felt each time like giving up on all that I do. And it seems those wolves are still coming, and the more I battle in the spirit the more they come.
They want to steal my life.
They want to make me feel like a failure.
They want to render me helpless and defeated.
Just as those good guys in the movie used their weapons of warfare I am more determined to use mine. I don’t fight by my own power or I would surely die. The weapons of my warfare are not carnal but are mighty before God for the pulling down of the enemies strongholds that would seek to envelope me and tear me to pieces.
For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds 2 Cor. 10:4
At some point those wolves will get it…they will see they cannot defeat me because I may look “defeatable” but behind me stand mighty warriors of the most high God and they have to get through them first.
In myself I am weak and no different than any of you. But it is in my weakness HE is made strong.
“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!” 2 Cor. 12:9-11
So, I watched the scene in the Lord of the Rings until the battle played out…and the good guys were plum worn out but were able to ride off, alive, and the enemy was defeated, with carcasses of demons strewn over the mountainside.
Boy, I wish He would tell me how long it’s going to last and when I can see His total deliverance from this time of attack..but isn’t that what it is all about?
Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Eph 6:10-18
It is learning to always be on our guard and decked out in our armor so that we find our true joy and deliverance in Him for always?
I was driving along a country road one day with a heavy spirit. It seemed hard for me to articulate to the Lord what I was feeling. You know those days when you just want to say to Him,
“Lord just hear my heart.”
I began to sing to Him what I was feeling and I kept singing this chorus over and over….
“Lord, do You see me? Do you hear my heart?”
From the depths of my pain.
After about 30 minutes of singing to the Lord I felt the urge to sing new words. So, I just yielded myself to it.
To my amazement I began to sing His words back to my own spirit, right there in the car.
Yes, that is correct. He began to sing to me through my own voice. Yet, to me it was directly from Him. It is hard to explain but definitely a supernatural experience.
He sang back to me,
“My child, I see you. Dixie, my child I love you. I will never leave you. I will perform and deliver. You will see.”
I can’t even describe how penetrating His love became to me as His words were delivered to my spirit.
I felt buoyed up and exhilarated, full of joy and hope, and overcome with a love that saturated my very being from the inside to out.
He is our King with power, and He gives us the power to love as He loves. Imagine it! We cannot love the unlovely without His anointing to see them through His eyes. He sees the heart. In our own power, we cannot.
Did you know He pursues us far more than we pursue Him. Yet we still struggle with making the time to meet Him. I don’t know how many times I have known He is sitting at my place of pondering, prayer, and meditation, waiting for me, and yet, I find a hundred other things I must do first. The whole day passes and I have put Him off again.
I pray my days of walking past Him grow less and less as I continue to realize that my strength to walk with Him and to fight the battles of my warfare only come from Him and Him alone.
No area of Jesus’ supremacy and power and authority is expressed or experienced more than when His love is manifest in us. It fills us to capacity and changes us from the inside out!
Jesus Himself announced that God loves us in the way that God the Father loves God the Son. The Father feels the same intensity of love for us that He feels for Jesus.
Wrap your mind around that fact!
The God of the universe longs for relationship with you. He wants to walk and talk with you as He did with Adam and Eve when He created them.
That is so hard to imagine in our finite minds, but true none the less.
The ultimate statement about our worth and value is that Jesus has the same measure of love and affection towards us that His Father has towards Him.
It gives us all the right to view ourselves as “God’s favorite”.
This is a gold mine of truth that deserves our focused attention continuously.
At the last supper, Jesus emphasized this truth to His disciples just before their failures in denying Him.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love…These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Jn. 15:9-11)
Did you realize He said this to the disciples while already knowing they would fail Him? His love for me and you does not depend on how ‘good’ we are….anymore than your love for your child changes when they are not ‘good’ kids. He loves you because you are His child. And you have accepted Jesus which means your unrighteousness has been exchanged for the righteousness of Jesus and He sees you as His precious child.
How do we find this place of divine love and stay there?
Stay focused on God’s love. By abiding, beholding Him, and living in this truth, we position ourselves to experience it more. Don’t be distracted from this truth.
Go deep in it…… Surrender to it without resisting or negotiating with God about it.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us. (1 Jn. 3:1)
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord… (Jude 21)