The Foundation of Freedom From Codependency

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How do you escape from “codependency”, or avoid it in the first place?  The first obvious step is to see that it’s happening.  Tragically, recognizing codependency is difficult for the naive, and especially the young.

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The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.   
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Proverbs 22:3

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Awareness and admission of dependency requires a gut check.  On the one hand, am I over-reliant on someone for my needs, fulfillment, or happiness?  On the other hand, is someone over-reliant on me for his/her needs, fulfillment, happiness?  Is my controller’s apparent reliance on me genuine, or a cover to make themselves the center my world?  Am I constantly walking on eggshells around this person?

Everyone has legitimate needs – both physical and emotional – and God intends for people to help each other with those needs.   Galatians 6:2 says:

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Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ  ….. 

Galatians 6:2

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But right after this, Paul goes on to say that in the end we must assume responsibility for ourselves:

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…..  For each one will bear his own load.   

Galatians 6:5

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The controller will turn your God-given motivation to help others into enslavement and dominance.  He ignores the both/and balance discussed in Galatians 6 that while we are called to bear each other’s burdens, in the end every one carries their own load and must trust God. 

There are many things for which we must trust only God, instead of looking to others.  The simplest example is breathing.  We breathe for ourselves…. and every breath we take comes from God.  Paul told the Athenians….

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…. nor is He (God) served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;     

Acts 17:25

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To break free of our controller’s emotional control, we need to make clear distinctions between legitimate needs and manipulative actions.  We can help them with legitimate needs, but should also give them space to take personal responsibility and look to God for the rest.  This is easier said than done.

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We also need to place the meeting of our own needs in God’s hands.  Breaking free requires that we transfer our hope and and source of strength from our controller to something or someone else – a better source that truly cares and has real strength themselves.  Yes, we can turn to human solutions …..

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    • Someone else.  For the the emotionally weak, they may once again gravitate toward a “strong personality”, controlling, narcissistic type, and simply repeat the same loop.  “Someone else” is the great illusory hope for many, but typically just substitutes one false hope for another.

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    • A “group” of some sort, such as
        • An affinity group – college alumni, sports teams, fishing, stamp collectors, Star Wars junkies, etc.
        • The “government” – the problem with this is that this can easily become simply a bigger “controller”, and does not provide any emotional support

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    • Ourselves – advocated by the self-help crowd.  It is not without merit, as it may help develop a mindset of personal responsibility.  However, total self-reliance is an illusion.  There are limits to our capacity for complete self-reliance.  God designed us most importantly to need Him – so that we would seek Him – and to also need others (to a point)

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…. but, while these solutions may help you break free from the emotional dominance of your current controller, they all have serious limitations.  The only true source of strength is God Himself (supplemented by those He brings into our life).  God has communicated this to us in many ways throughout the Bible.  He says,

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‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

Isaiah 41:10

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God invites us to look to Him, instead of our proud, unreliable, narcissistic controller

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.

 

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.   

Psalm 40:1-4

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Once we realize that we need to switch our dependency from our controller to God, how do we actually do it?  Where do we start?

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Next up:  Breaking Free