One day, my friend Page told me something that made me practically fall off my chair. I was shocked. I was moved. And I’ve been thinking about it for the last two years.
We were sitting cross-legged at Bible study, and she wondered out loud whether in training our children to be independent, we were leading them to be less like Christ. She was musing aloud about the implications of raising children who believe they can do it all on their own—or worse, that they should do it all on their own.
I am one of those people. I can be very proud of my ability to keep it all together. If I’m not careful, I can find value in my independence. I feel more valuable because I’m enough on my own. I don’t really need anyone. Apart from the Lord, left to my own devices, I can begin to think this is a good character trait—one I should celebrate.
My friend’s words snapped me back to reality.
I believe that as a culture we are putting independence and self-sufficiency on an undue pedestal. We prop up these characteristics when instead we should be cheering for those who are willing to make themselves low and vulnerable. We Christians talk all the time about people being made for community, but we seem to be most satisfied with ourselves when we don’t functionally need one.
If my flesh—my basest desires—had its way, I would move through my day not having any lack, not needing any help, and not getting particularly close to anyone. There’s a lot less chance to get hurt when we never put ourselves in someone’s debt.
Have you ever had a friend who would never let you do anything for them? They would never ask for help or for $5 to grab a cup of coffee or for a moment of your time. They think they’re being easygoing and laid-back. To need nothing—this is how my gut tells me to approach friendships. But the friendship feels a little out of balance, and it’s like I’m afraid to stoop low and show that I need help. I think sometimes I do it out of past hurt and an often unrecognized desire to be seen as above others (ouch!).
When I allow myself to indulge the temptation of independence and fakery, the friendships never last long, or at least we don’t dig as deep as we could. We are leaving intimacy with each other on the table when we aren’t willing to admit need.
Dependence isn’t a dirty word. It’s a gift. It’s a joy. When someone depends on us, we get to use the traits that mirror God the Father in helping, creating, healing, and providing. When we are dependent on someone else, we get to reflect Jesus in his humility, his need, and his willingness.
Not only do we not have intimacy with the Lord by accident or from a neutral stance; we refuse intimacy with him. We have been presented with the option—with the imperative—and we’ve chosen not to abide in him.
In all instances of independence, I’ve seen a stubborn refusal to allow God to be our strength, our provision, our sustenance. God is actually always there already sustaining us, already providing us with his power, already caring for our daily needs. But we, in our elevated view of ourselves, believe that it’s our power and our strength and our know-how that’s keeping us going. This is pride, arrogance, and stubbornness that are not lovely.
So if God is always there and always providing these things, if we refuse to acknowledge this and lean into our Provider, then we’re refusing intimacy. It is continually offered, and we reject it.
This may seem like a small deal to our American pragmatism. We’ve been raised to believe that you take care of yourself, that being a burden is the worst, and that only unwise people struggle. However, this is not the case in God’s kingdom.
I have to teach myself that it’s okay to need people. I have to remind myself that I don’t always need margin—or even excess. I have to remind myself that Jesus himself told me that I didn’t need to—and shouldn’t—store things up in an imaginary silo (Luke 12:16–21; see also Matthew 6:19–21).
I have a friend who is terrified to run out of physical rest. She is afraid to run on empty. I wonder if she is afraid to find out that God isn’t really enough for her, that he won’t really come through. I have another friend who is reluctant to marry a good man who is ministry minded. She loves him, but she wonders if she needs a “better provider” as a husband. She’s afraid she won’t be able to live a life with financial peace and margin. I wonder if she believes that God really provides for her.
What are the boundaries you hold dear? And why do you maintain them?
Perhaps you’re thinking, What if I’m not admired or well-thought-of? What if I can’t take care of myself? What if people misunderstand me? What if I can’t retire? What if we can’t take care of our kids? What if I burn out?
Here’s the good news for you today. We’re all very fortunate. We have a God who fights for us (Exodus 14:14), a God who lays out our boundary lines (Psalm 16:6; Acts 17:26), and a God who challenges us to do more with less (Proverbs 15:16; 1 Timothy 6:17–19). We have a God who loves us and cares for us and desires to be needed. We are only fooling ourselves if we think we’re doing this all on our own anyway.
Adapted from Preach to Yourself: When Your Inner Critic Comes Calling, Talk Back with Truth by Hayley Morgan. Click here to learn more about this title.
We know Christ came to speak life, but then how come our inner critic keeps showing up and stealing the mic? If we’re honest, she’s a harsh one, saying things we’d never dream of saying to others: You’ll never measure up, you’ll fail again tomorrow, you just can’t get it right.
It has been said that the eighteen inches from head to heart is the soul’s longest journey. Our head knows the good news is true, but our heart struggles to believe it, and it is in this gap that we battle to believe the promises of God.
Hayley Morgan, coauthor of bestselling book Wild and Free, has wrestled with this tension her whole life. In Preach to Yourself, she tackles it head-on to discover how we can renew our minds to renew our lives. For every woman who struggles with repetitive, negative self-talk, this book will show you how to identify the toxic loops where you get stuck and replace them with the truth of God we can believe with our whole selves.
This is not a “try harder” reprimand, it’s a “believe better” invitation: to take God at His word when He tells you who you are. Come along and learn a simple practice to break free from the lies holding you back, and step forward into the fullness of life God has planned.
Hayley Morgan is a speaker, social entrepreneur, and coauthor of the bestselling book Wild and Free. She also runs Nellie Taft, an online boutique featuring women’s clothes made in the USA. Hayley lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and their four young sons. She blogs at HayleyMorgan.com.