Codependency

Codependency has got to be one of the most cloudiest issues ever. For any of you out there that don’t know what codependency is, I’ll give a basic description. It’s basically being dependent on another person’s behaviors. Being dependent on what they do or don’t do or how they’ll react to something. There are A LOT of different ways that codependency shows up in people, but basically it’s that. I personally get confused in it because helping someone feels like the right thing to do. Naturally you would think to help someone. But there is a point when a codependent person steps over the boundary line into unhealthy. So where is that line?

A big lesson that I’ve been learning over maybe the last year is that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to help people, not mine. That people don’t need me trying to fix all their problems and stepping in to try to take over (as if I know better). This has been hard for me to grasp because I always thought we were supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. I’m pretty sure I took that thought to an extreme. What I have learned is that in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I just need to love people. Which lead me to realize, maybe I don’t really know how to love people in the life giving way that God intended.

Loving people doesn’t mean trying to soften reality or blocking them from having to deal with problems. Loving them means pointing them to the one person that can actually help, Jesus. Loving people means that I can still help and be a support or a friend to them, but it does not equal me stepping in to be what they depend on fully. Love isn’t controlling or smothering. Love should never take a person’s eyes off Jesus and on to me.

Codependency feels like love but it isn’t. It gets confusing because all you can think is that you’re wanting to care about another person and help them, but it just turns into a selfish act.

I believe that the main root problem that causes codependency is fear. Fear of another person getting hurt, fear of losing a person’s acceptance, etc. But God’s word says that perfect love casts out all fear (1John4:18), so if I’m living in fear then I am obviously not living in love. If I were really living in God’s perfect love, then I would be fully trusting Him to take care of the people that I love and to take care of me. I learned this week that one of God’s names is “El-Roi” which means “God who keeps watch”. That says to me that He sees it ALL. Even when my judgement is clouded, He still sees.  Nothing gets past Him even when it seems to me like nothing is happening.

So what is the solution then? If I’m aware that I don’t have the best judgement and I sometimes react out of fear rather than in His love, what do I do? …………. I keep my eyes on Him. I need to continually humble myself and acknowledge that I don’t know best. That only He has all of the real answers. That I need His wisdom in ALL circumstances. Proverbs 28:26 says “Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe”.

So how do we get wisdom? The way to wisdom is in having a relationship with God. To humble myself and acknowledge Him and ask for continual guidance before I act.  Always putting HIM first instead of putting the problem first. God loves to give us guidance and wisdom in all things.  He just wants us to come to Him for it. To stop trying to be the god of our own life or someone else’s and acknowledge HIM as the one true God. I can sit here and spin my wheels all day with trying to figure out how I can do better on my own, but it has always and will always come to nothing. The answer has always been in following Jesus’ example, and Jesus always pointed us straight to God the Father. Bottom line is that He’s got it under control and I don’t need to worry or have fear.

“Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’ And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.” Isaiah 35:4-5

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His Unstoppable Pursuit

I’ve been thinking lately about how a relationship with God starts. I think the beginning of it is one of the most beautiful parts of the entire relationship. I didn’t think of mine as really anything special at the time, but when you can look back on it later you can see that He was pursuing me way before I was ever seeking Him out. Way back in teenage years, on Bourbon St or some random club, at whatever time, doing who knows what, and God was there with me. I didn’t know back then what His presence felt like, but it’s a feeling I know well now. Memories of times of such confusion, being lost in what was going on, and knowing that there has to be more to life than this, and I could feeling Him calling for me to come to Him. Again, I didn’t realize that was Him at the time, but He was there, patiently waiting for me to see Him so He could get me out of where I was.

I just think it’s so beautiful because He finds us and wants us exactly where we are. He doesn’t wait until we get ourselves together. He doesn’t wait until we figure everything out. He sees us and loves us right in the middle of whatever mess we may have gotten ourselves in. He loves us right in the middle of whatever addiction we can’t seem to quit. He loves us right in the middle of whatever bad relationship we can’t seem to let go of. He loves us right in the middle of our lack of belief in Him. You name it, and He will unconditionally love us and seek a relationship with us in it.

I’ve had so many back & forths and failures in the maybe 15 years of starting my relationship with God. There’s a huge portion of those 15 years where really I was not living right by Him at all and still falling into old behaviors BUT He loved me through it all and never left me. Even when I left Him. He knows our destinies. He knows the potential we hold inside that we have so much trouble seeing. He sees it ALL. He sees way beyond our mistakes.

Don’t ever think that you have to be better before God can love you. He loves you with a love deeper than your understanding. He loves your yesterday, He loves you today in this moment, and His love never stops. His love is patient and gentle. Never forceful. His love will pursue you ALL the days of your life.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Assisting or Resisting the Enemy?

I think most of us don’t realize the fact that we are in a daily spiritual battle. Sure we all are fully aware of daily struggles and aggravations, but we typically blame that on other people or on our own inadequacies. Not on the truth that we have an actual enemy seeking us out each day.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8

I’ve typically been an avoider when it comes to conflict with people and I realized recently that I do the SAME thing dealing with the devil. I try to think that if I just keep my focus on what I need to be doing and just keep moving that the issues won’t catch up with me. I think we’ve all learned in life that avoidance solves nothing. It only adds to the problem and prolongs it. It’s the same with the enemy. I give the enemy a foothold in my life through avoidance. Like as if I ignore him then he can’t bother me. Not true. All that does is give him the ability to quietly creep up all over because I’m not even paying attention.

All of us down here are more than used to the aggravation and grossness of roaches. The roaches won’t stay out of my house if I’m just trying to avoid them and not look, trying to pretend they aren’t there. No, I have to ACTIVELY protect my home against them with spraying bug spray, not leaving food out, and not leaving doors open. Fighting the enemy is just like that.

Avoidance and being blind to our adversary is like becoming his doormat. We open the door and let him right in and then wonder why we feel like we can’t break through whatever we have going on. Whatever that is. It could be depression, addiction(not just to drugs or alcohol, could be to social media, the internet, food, people, etc), anxiety, conflict, lusts. The list could go on. We all have issues we face every day but the only way to resist these things instead of assisting is to know WHO you are actually fighting. Blaming others or ourselves comes to nothing. It just feeds into the cycle of the problem, bringing us around and around again, never finding our way out. We need to find the true source of the problem.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

This isn’t to say that another person or even ourselves can’t be a problem. It means that the enemy will use us or other people against us. He can tell us a lie like that we’re stupid and we’ll believe it and a string of events in life will follow because we believe that one lie. Or he tells another person a lie and suddenly they are dealing with anger or suspicion towards us and it causes conflict. Things like that. Whatever the situation is, the root of all the problems come from the enemy.

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10

Do you feel like you’re living an abundant life? Or do you ever feel like it’s a struggle to just enjoy it? Thankfully God “trains my hands for battle”(2Samuel 22:35). He gives us a solution and battle plan to follow…

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s amor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6: 13-18

I could dig in deeper to that whole passage but basically it’s saying that our weapon against the enemy is in our full love, knowledge, and security in God’s word and character. We fully cover ourselves inside and out in the TRUTH of who God is and who He says we are. Just like we take a shower every day and wear clothes, we need to cleanse and cover ourselves in Him. So WHEN, not if, the enemy comes along and tries to tell us something like that we’ll never overcome this feeling, or we’ll never have peace or succeed in life, we can immediately shut it down with the TRUTH of God’s word that says we are “more than conquerers” (Romans 8:37). To put it all in one simple step, get to know God. Don’t overcomplicate that step, just get to know Him more. All the answers flow from just starting with that one easy step.

God loves each and every one of us SO much and has so much more good for us than we even know or can imagine.

Be alert and know the adversary you’re dealing with. Stop assisting the enemy and start resisting him. Throw yourself FULLY into the abundant love that God has for you and boldly walk with confidence in the TRUTH of who you are IN HIM.

Love Is An Action

“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.'” John 21:15-17

How many times have you heard a statement like that before? “You know I love you”. I’ve said it myself numerous times. We most likely all have. The fact is that if someone has to ask, then it’s most likely not being shown. I think we all fall into the thinking that as long as we say it then that should be enough. But bottom line is that if you love someone then it shows up in your actions. You don’t ever need to stop telling someone you love them but you’re whole relationship should be an outward physical representation of that love.

The same goes with our relationship with God. In John 14, Jesus says that if we love Him then we will do what He says. This isn’t said as a controlling master. It’s said from a place of love from Him to us. When you love someone and trust that he/she loves you, then you trust them to have your best interest in mind. That’s what Jesus is saying, that if we say we love Him then we trust that what He says for us to follow is the best path for us to take because He’s proven His love for us.

I think it’s interesting that Peter gets his feelings hurt that Jesus questioned him three times. Peter had JUST denied that he even knew Jesus when He got arrested. Out of fear, Peter deserted Jesus in that moment. Completely throwing out all of the years of intimate friendship that they had shared. I think it’s a fair question for Jesus to ask. But don’t we all do that? Just say to ourselves that God knows all things, He knows our hearts without us ever doing anything or speaking a word, so He already knows we love Him. God is not a God of empty words like we can be. When He says He loves us, it shows in EVERYTHING He does. Love is action. Love is a verb, not an adjective here. If we love God, then we follow what He says. We take the love that He has given us and we pour it out on others. We don’t live in fear of being found out. God’s love should make us bold. It’s not meant for us to keep it just for ourselves. God’s love is meant to be a continual flow. Like water flowing from Him, to us, and on to others. Water can become polluted when it’s blocked up and stuck in one place. But a continual flow gets continually refreshed. Selfishly keeping it to ourselves pollutes it because of all the junk each of us carries around with us. But if we allowed the water to flow through us,  it cleanses everything. Like cleaning out a wound. We need a continual, active, free flow of His love constantly going through us.

Jesus told Peter that if he loves Him then take care of His flock, His people, His followers, all God’s children. To not fall back in quiet fear, but step out, be bold and tend to His people. To follow the two commandments, to love God with all that he is and to love people the same way. To share everything that He learned. Show love. Live the example of Jesus’ love. Be love in action.

These words are not just for Peter, it’s for us all. This is Jesus’ commission for US. Sometimes doing this can feel hard but Jesus leaves us with this promise…

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27