My personal definition of co-dependency for your consideration:
When a person focuses on someone besides God, in an attempt to become the god of a person who is in distress, until the person they are trying to help, ultimately becomes their god.
Our Church has begun a “Celebration Recovery” ministry on Saturday night’s at 6 PM. Rick Warren and Jon Baker like to use acrostics when they preach. He spells out the word R E C O V E R Y. His first step begins therefore, with the letter R
R. First Step:
Realize that I am not God.
I admit that I am powerless in my life to do the wrong thing, and that my life has become unmanageable.
We become “Co-dependent” when we think that we have become “Co-God.”
In Genesis 3, Satan approaches Eve with this temptation, “If you eat of this fruit, you will become wise, and you will be likened unto a god knowing both good and evil.
We might assume that Eve wanted to know evil, however, I personally do not think that was her primary motive. Again, it is my opinion that Eve wanted to become “God” so that she could be good, not necessarily so that she could be evil!
That is a subtle thought. It is true that in order for us to be good, we have to become godly. But it is not true, that when we become good, we become god. There is a huge difference.
A person becomes codependent when he or she sees themselves as coming to the rescue for a person to whom they see in distress. In a subtle way, we desire to become “God” for the good. And that doesn’t sound bad, does it?
But, we are not the SAVIOR… He is!
Likened unto the style of Pastor Rick Warren, I too, am going to give you an acrostic message that could possibly help you to overcome “the subtle sin of codependency.” This is a message that I personally needed, and God brought it home to my heart. I trust it will help you as well.
The word that I have chosen for this message is the word “SAVIOR.” The 1st letter is the letter S.
S-triving to that which is beyond our ability to do.
A codependent person sees himself in the image of “superman.” He sees himself coming to the rescue of all those who are in distress. The problem is, no one person can achieve that goal!
We are limited. We have limited abilities. We have limited resources. We cannot always succeed in helping someone who may have chosen to live in habitual sin, try as though we might.
I am the Pastor of my Church, not the god of my Church. I am husband of my wife, not the god of my wife. I am father of my children, not the god of my children. There is a huge distinction!
Note Abraham’s proper view of himself:
(Gen 18:27) And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
A-ctions that put us in debt and compromise our testimony.
If a person sees themselves as God coming to rescue, they think that they must succeed at all cost. If we are not careful, we just might possibly put ourselves into some very compromising situations.
As a Pastor, when I see a damsel in distress, it would be far better for me to allow her husband come her rescue, rather than myself. If she has no husband, perhaps it would be better for me to organize the ladies of the church to take on this ministry to their fellow sister in need, rather than it would for me to put on the robe of superman with a giant “S” on my chest, with a cape and gown!
Kindhearted grandmothers have a tendency to fall into this subtle sin of co-dependency. A wayward grandchild, might see their grandmother as an “easy touch” for some financial help.
Grandmother wants to help, so what does she do? She goes out and gets a bank loan to bail struggling her grandchild out of trouble. Credit cards can be a cruel solution. If grandmother falls into this sin, she will have taught her grandchild that he doesn’t need to pray to God for wisdom and help, but rather to look unto “Grandmother” when they have a need!
Please note, that I am not saying that if God leads you to help out someone in need, and it is within your means to do so, and God should be leading... praise the Lord, help!
But you will have to learn how to say “no” to the temptation of playing “God,” if it means that by helping them, you would have to rob God of tithes and offerings, or become largely in debt by borrowing from the usury of steeply priced credit cards!
Here is a verse for you to consider:
(Rom 13:8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
V-ulnerable to praise and affirmation.
If I see myself as “god,” I will expect the praise and adoration of men. It is sad when people are constantly seeking praise from others.
It is sadder still when people heap praises unto themselves. Pride cometh before the fall.
I am not saying that it is wrong for you compliment someone who has been worthy of an kind word. I am saying that it is wrong when we do what we do only to hear the praises of men.
Here is a good verse to consider:
(Eccl 9:7) Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
I-gnorant as to God’s plan regarding the “team” that we have been blessed with by Christ.
If a person is caught up within himself, and his own plan of how he might rescue someone, that person might not take the time to consider the fact that God may have an all together different plan to rescue someone, other than our own!
Think on this verse:
(1 Cor 12:14) For the body is not one member, but many.
God loves people. He wants to rescue people more than you do! But only God is God. And being that he is God, he has the entire Church family, and all of creation, at his disposal. I do not. I am not God!
As a Pastor, God has gifted me with many talents. So I guess I could lead the Church music. I could open in prayer. I could read the scripture. I could make all of the announcements. I could do all the special music. I could lead the devotional thought before the offering is taken. I could teach the brief children’s message before the main sermon to the adults. I could preach the sermon. I could close in prayer. But that would mean, that I would have to be the entire Church “all by myself.” And that is not God’s plan!
God’s desire is for the Church to act as a body of believers. Everyone of us have been called into participation.
I am not God. I am just one member of a larger body of believers!
Have you ever considered that God said that he only gives grace to people when they become “humble?” Sometimes, in our zeal to be good and to be god, we circumvent God’s plan. Perhaps, the person to whom we are trying to rescue has a need to become humble. Until a person is willing and ready to obey God, they are not humble. May we ask God for wisdom, before we begin doling out money or helping in other ways.
O-nly happy when I have made (him/her) happy.
It is impossible for you to make an unhappy person truly happy. Only God can do that, and you are not God!
If a person is committing the subtle sin of codependency, a complete reversal often takes place. Initially, a person thinks that they are God, and, therefore, they can do all things. Eventually they fail.
They always do. As time goes on, they will identify with the failures of others so intimately, they see themselves as a “failure” too! They see themselves as dust, and only dust.
This makes them “unhappy.”
But here is what the Bible says:
(1 Th 5:16-18) Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
R-educing the narrow road by taking the wrong path.
It is hard to admit it when you come to a dead end. No one wants their marriage to end. No one wants to leave their “home” church. No one wants to seek employment elsewhere. No one wants to seek out a new place to call home. But that is what God just might allow to happen.
If you are on the wrong path, admit it. Don’t stop living. Ask God to show you the new steps that you are to take!
Consider these verses:
(Prov 3:5,6) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Notice that the word in verse six is “paths,” not “path!” God wants to show you new opportunities, new challenges, and new paths! If anyone lacks wisdom, “Ask of God!”
Again, step one: Realize that I am not God.
We are not the SAVIOR… he is!
Let me close with this illustration: I have an older couple in my Church that has been married for over 65 years now. Maggie is now in the nursery home, well up in years. She has been reduced to just thin skin and bones, but she hangs on to life.
Her husband, Frank, visits Maggie every day. He too, is tired, and has tried to do all that is within his ability to bring his dear wife home again, but it has not happened.
Last week I made pastorial visit on Frank and Maggie. He was sitting in the visitor’s chairs that is always left in the room. Maggie was close by in her wheel chair, nestled close beside him. She was leaning on Frank, holding unto his shoulder with both her arms wrapped around his arm.
Maggie loves Frank. Frank loves Maggie. Sometimes, just being there, is all we can do, and being there is enough.