Can you be thankful for your failures? Does it have any beneficial place in the life of the Christian?
My self-love was like a film over the eyes of my heart. I could see God, but the glimpses of Him were somewhat cloudy. Failure is the solution disolving the residue of pride. With each removal of pride comes a crisper view of the glory of God.
Though I never had an outwardly needy friendship, the weeds of codependency were still popping up in my life, just in a different form.
I needed her to be ok with me. I needed her approval and her acceptance. I needed her more than I loved her. This is the essence of codependency: driven by our own needs we become unable to truly love other people. My neediness was near impossible to see because it manifested by keeping her at arms-length. I perceived myself not to be needy, but to be perfectly content without her in my life.
When I consider the last decade of my life, I see a series of deaths:
Death of my pride through living in the shadow of my husband’s giftedness. Death of my fear of conflict through divorces in my family and among friends. Death of my fear of confrontation through difficult friendships. Death of my desires through multiple miscarriages. Death of my fear of failure through situations where I could not win. Death of my hope in myself through seeing my exposed sin in high-definition focus.
Each season of dying has felt just like that—dying. The choking out of something I have loved, desired, and clung to for hope, peace, and safety. The choking out of things in me, writhing, gasping for breath and praying, “Does it have to be this way? Can’t I follow You and also keep this with me? Does it really need to die?”
In God’s kingdom, pruning is caring. Jesus is the true vine, His Father the vinedresser. Every branch in Jesus that bears fruit, the Father prunes that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1–2).
God’s answer to my question is yes. Yes, it does need to die. It must be pruned. Without pruning, my life will become something even I don’t want—an overgrown, thorny bush with no fruit to offer.
Growing up as a church kid, repentance wasn’t a good thing. It was like flu medication. If you got the flu, of course, it was commendable to take the medication. But even better than that was not getting sick. Avoiding sin was better than needing to repent. Goody-two-shoes that I was, this was great news. I was pretty good at obedience, at following the rule book. But sometime during those church-going years, I got a glimpse of God in His Word: His character, His beauty, His holiness. Rule-following was no longer appealing. Knowing Him was.
Being left out will always be a litmus test for pride. As soon as you realize you didn’t get the invite, you aren’t in the inner circle, or you are on the outside, one of two responses happen.
The first is the most common: hurt, disappointment, and/or anger. Under those surface feelings are deep roots of entitlement (a.k.a. pride). A feeling that you deserve to be included or that you have merited inclusion. Or that you are owed the opportunity to be included, assuming that it’s the fair thing to do. But our God isn’t fair, mercifully so (read more about that here). We live under grace and that changes the game.
To boil it down, being included is about being honored. Like the kids picked first for the kickball team, being chosen for any group is position of honor. No one wants to be last on the team, or worst of all, not picked at all. We want the places of honor.
God is unfair.
Matthew 20 forces us to deal with this hard reality. Though an equitable God who treats everyone with the same favor would be easier to handle, that’s not our God. Jesus makes this clear as He tells this parable.
In Genesis 25 we have a snapshot of the lives of Jacob and Esau, Isaac’s twin sons. Esau, the elder, sells his birthright to Jacob at the cost of a bowl of soup and a piece of bread. The final assessment of the situation: Esau despised his birthright.
So what does despise mean in this context? I used to assume the word was very emotive, in the same camp as disgust, hate, or loathe. But the Bible doesn’t use it that way. Here there is no argument breaking out, no punches thrown, no harsh words. After Esau sells his birthright, he goes on his way. He doesn’t seem to care either way about whether he has it or not. And that is the essence of this Biblical word, despise: to treat as insignificant, expendable, and of little value.
Self-pity is simply the grief that I have nothing to brag about in myself.
Ever have those days when you feel like a failure at everything? The closer I walk with God, the more my sin, my deep-rooted self-love, comes into high-definition focus. And honestly, I’d really love to be the most put together person in the room, the most spiritual, the most holy, the most fill-in-the-blank woman I know. Why? [Honest confession time] Because I love boasting in myself!
God’s compassion has often been forceful. At times, his force has been the confrontation of a friend, putting before my eyes the way my sin is harmful to those around me. His force has been the perfect storm of circumstances that upon first glance seem to prove that He hates me but soon reveal that He was delivering me from self-destruction. His force has been suffering, the stripping away of everything I trusted in, leaving me with Him alone. The compassion of God seizes me by the hand and drags me out of my sin when I hesitate to flee.
Repentance is the act of agreeing with God about our sin, turning from it and rejoicing in what God has done for us in Jesus. Most of our repentance is reactive. We repent primarily for the sins that are staring us in the face or the ones that others point out. And honestly, even then, sometimes we delay dealing with our sin.
But what if we weren’t just reactive in dealing with our sin, but proactive? This is a trait we see in many of the godly men and women of the Bible: Josiah (2 Chron. 34), Daniel (Dan 9), and David (Psalm 139:23-24) to name a few.
The truth is, our sin is so vile, so wicked, so wretched, so full of anti-God-self-love, that God’s forgiveness of us at the expense of His One and Only Beloved Son should put us into a state of utter shock and disbelief. But if you don’t think your sin is that bad, then God’s grace toward you won’t be that good. And I think this is where other good things (like marriage) creep in and start to look a little more appealing than a right relationship with God.
If you are not shocked that God has offered you a right relationship with Him, then you likely don’t think you’re a very bad sinner. Does the above description of sin sound extreme to you? Then you likely have too low a view of your sin. Or you have excused your sin because of circumstances or by comparing yourself to others. And so long as knowing God is not that impressive to you, you’ll always be looking to something else for deep and abiding joy.
In the last post, we looked at how Jesus responded to children and how we can do the same. Whether or not we have children of our own, we need to cultivate a Biblical response to children. But what would Jesus have to say to moms? Being a mother entails a whole other level of interaction…
As man’s power over woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by submission. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission. -Elisabeth Elliot As wives, we have influence over our husbands but too often we…
After the series I recently wrote dealing with codependency in friendship, a few people presented a very natural follow up question: If codependency isn’t ok in friendships, then should it be ok in marriage? NO. Remember, I’m defining codependency as tying your emotional sense of well-being to another person. To say it another way, it is giving more weight and…
BFFs have become the new couple. Can’t find a boyfriend? Just get a best friend. Emotionally, a best friend can now fulfill all the same things a boyfriend can. It may feel like your best friend is the only person who truly gets you. She can make you feel loved, give you somewhere to belong, and make you feel needed. Your BFF can easily become a placeholder until you get that boyfriend or husband you’ve always wanted.
If it is evident that you have been idolizing a person in your life and have become emotionally dependent on them, here are some basic steps you can take to move toward freedom:
Prepare for Grief
Cultivate Other Friendships
See a Biblical Counselor
Get to Know God
How can you tell the difference between a healthy and unhealthy friendship? Unlike the ingrown friendship model of the world, friendship for Jesus looks outside itself to find its purpose. Like everything else, the purpose of our friendships should center on Him. We cannot glorify God alone, we cannot live for His glory alone. We need each other!
Two codependent friends may pray together, talk about Jesus a lot, and be extremely supportive of one another. The spiritual nature of the friendship may give a false sense that nothing is wrong. But even if the main topic of conversation is Jesus, codependency is never ok. Here are 17 signs that your friendship is codependent.
Most Christians assume friendship could never be sinful, especially same-gender friendships. This is the reason some walk into idolatry blindly: they have a false sense of security. But idolatry is no respecter of gender. Anything that takes God’s place in your heart is an idol, even your closest girl friend. A best friend can become a god, a functional savior who rescues you from all the hardships of life, and very few will call it sin. This is why idolatry in friendship is dangerously deceptive: it has become culturally acceptable to need your friend more than you need God.
This is the story of a friendship gone wrong. Somewhere along the way, Sarah and Kelsey began to look to one another for things only God should give: worth, purpose, belonging, and security. This is the story of a co-dependent friendship infected with idolatry.