I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Mostly reflecting on who I once was and who I am now – who I’m becoming and who I’ll eventually become. Life is such a shattered yet beautiful adventure with Jesus.
My past is loaded with codependency. Specifically emotional codependency.
Mental Health America describes emotional codependency this way:
“It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.”
Yup. That was me. It started with my mom and a childhood friend. I can only remember as far back as 4 years old and the enemy had his hooks in me with both of these people at that point in my life.
4 years old.
I didn’t stand a chance.
My mind was such a hot mess express. Honestly, sometimes it still is. I’m just grateful that by the grace of God I’m now aware. I can differentiate lies from truth – but it doesn’t mean that lies don’t still show up.
At a young age I was taught that if you feel proud of yourself, you’re being arrogant. I was taught that defending yourself against certain people was wrong. You should back down, be the bigger person, submit, take ownership even if it was the other person’s fault. Don’t question. Don’t argue. FEEL BAD, apologize and work diligently to make everything better.
I was also taught that I couldn’t be mad. If I kept to myself or cared about my own well being I was called selfish.
I guess I shouldn’t say I was taught these things … I’ll just say this is how I perceived the way I should act/be according to the messages around me. This is how my little brain and emotions interpreted negative feelings.
These mixed signals led to a life of codependency in friendships and overall “good” performance.
In my late teens, early 20s, I remember if someone did something really nasty toward me, I would feel so angry and hurt but immediately would start to make excuses for the person. “They didn’t mean it.” “Clearly they didn’t try to be malicious and hurt me.” “It’s me. It’s not them. It’s my own tainted thinking.” “God! Fix MY messed up thinking patterns.”
Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t me at times. But there were moments when someone was smiling so big in my face and we’d be having a very pleasant conversation but when I walked away I could feel daggers and shards of glass in my soul.
I was confused.
I found Jesus (with more in between … but for time’s sake…)
I went to church and became ‘churchy’.
In church I was taught to forgive, bare each other’s burdens, extend grace, turn the other cheek, pursue peace, don’t repay evil with evil and the list goes on and on.
Well, when you struggle with codependency (but don’t know you’re struggling) you go to church and find out that you’re wrong, selfish, arrogant. There were times when I would experience someone being down right malicious toward me but I felt shame and guilt if I let myself think and believe that someone was doing me wrong.
My whole life I had been wired to immediately create a false reality where people are not bad and mean and malicious. Where people are not jealous, insecure, envious, and harmful. I had to believe the reality that I created because to think that people were anything other than good was clearly just ME. My fault. My problem.
But you know what?
It wasn’t always me. It wasn’t always my fault. It wasn’t always my problem.
And you know what else?
People can suck really bad. People do mean and evil things. And it hurts when you face that reality.
My husband is a realist. I’m the dreamer. The other day my heart was aching badly. I felt hurt by another person. Through tears I told my husband, “The hardest part for me is not the hurt that has been felt in my heart … it’s the reality that the person did it on purpose.”
Every day God is drawing me out into new grace. He allows me to experience real pain and junk that hurts you in your core. I’m anxious when I have to admit, not that people do dumb mean things … but to admit that people do dumb mean things because they intended to do a dumb mean thing. They wanted to punish. They wanted me to feel pain.
My sweet Savior meets me right there in that broken and wounded place and gently says to me, “But what are you going to do with it?”
I extend grace.
I die to myself.
I surrender again (because I probably got mad again thinking about it).
I remember that they know not what they do.
I remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood. I’m not fighting people who do dumb things … heck, I do dumb things (often). I can
arrogantly say that my intentions are not mean or evil … but I definitely do and say some dumb things … and there was a time when I was mean and malicious. Heck, I was hurt. Hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people.
Cry, blow your nose and get over it.
If God thinks its a good idea to love others I guess I should keep on lovin’ others. I guess I’ve got to confess that His power is made perfect in my weakness and thank Him continuously that He’s leading me into deeper places of love. You can’t experience the love of God and keep it to yourself. You just can’t.
Guys. I’m not even sure I know how to write anymore. This stuff just comes pouring out without any rhyme or reason and I can feel myself walking on slippery slopes that may offend some — and frankly I don’t care … but I do … but I don’t. I’m still learning that I don’t (and that THAT is okay but definitely a NEW thing for me).
Love covers it all.
It’s not even about hurt feelings and people doing mean stuff. From a Kingdom perspective – that’s just stupid. It’s a distraction. It makes
me us puff up with pride and you immediately enter the contest ‘mine is bigger than yours’ … it’s just gross and it breaks God’s heart. It’s foolish.
But this life is a journey. It’s not a quick race to the finish line. That’s why I’m writing from a new angle of ‘look at all these broke pieces but I love Jesus … I don’t quite understand but I love Jesus.’ Instead of ’10 Steps to a better you’ … Heck, if I know the 10 steps I should probably teach myself first. I just can’t do that stuff anymore.
Here’s where I’m at.
Just right here.
In this condition and not apologizing for it or using church verbiage to pretend I’m further along than I am.
I’m just lovin’ Jesus like crazy and feeling more alive than I ever have … experiencing more freedom than I ever have.
You don’t go from conversion to perfect. You just don’t. We go from grace to grace, from faith to faith, from glory to glory.
I think God meets us with fresh mercy and joy, not just in the morning but whenever we need it because He knew that we would need it over and over and over again.
I’ll leave you with The Message version of Ephesians 6:10-18
A Fight to the Finish
10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.