By nature, the idea of depending on someone or anything seems weak, perhaps unhealthy. For example, it’s not good to depend on alcohol. A friend recently confided in me that alcohol is the only thing that brings relief from some very difficult life situations. He knew enough to be worried for himself. I was too.
Depending too much on a person, even on my most special person (Lynne, my wife), can become co-dependence, meaning that I can need her too much. She becomes too important or powerful, and in my dependence I run the risk of losing myself. And that isn’t good.
In other ways, I find that depending on people doesn’t feel healthy because they disappoint me. Friends don’t include me in small groups or golf outings. People forget what I told them and it hurts because I thought what I shared was really important. Or they forget my birthday. ☹
Dependence in general seems like a bad idea.
But I depend on air. I can’t live without it. I depend on food and water. I really depend on relationships. I think I would shrivel up and die without them. I am glad, in a global way, that I depend on people. Life would seem empty without them. So maybe dependence isn’t all bad.
It does require vulnerability. In some ways, it does reveal weakness, in the sense that I cannot live without something or someone. But somewhere in the last few years, I have begun to question a long held assumption: Is it inherently bad to be vulnerable or weak or dependent? In fact, I would go even further: Could it be that God created me in such a way that the only way to find “real life” is to move toward and even live in a state of dependence and vulnerability? With people, but especially with Him?
You can see where this is going. I actually think my instinctive fear of and resistance to dependence has kept me from knowing a God who wants me to lean in and rely upon Him. I am beginning to think that my most alive times are the times when I am most dependent. And yet those are the times I most fear facing. I think I fear He won’t come through… or won’t come through in the ways I want/”need” Him to.
What if I really relaxed into my need for Him? What if I could give up my anxiety about a future I can’t know or control and could trust in the fact that He is there and He is enough for whatever will happen? And that whatever might end up being for good?
I get that the older I become, the more aware I am of how little I can control. From health to career success to relationships that really matter – I am, in fact, out of control. Now, God calls me to be responsible and a good steward of my body, my career, and my relationships but… all of those responsibilities have other forces acting on them that are way beyond my ability to control them. In fact, the older I get, the more aware I am of my inability to control even some things in me – like what I feel, how I instinctively react to situations, etc.
So what if the “right paradigm” for life is actually to move as purposefully as possible toward dependence on God? What if my first reaction to life’s more tenuous moments was to seek Him rather than to seek the solution? What if I could take responsibility, but with a foundational awareness that my hope is in Him? I think I would be less anxious, less driven, more relaxed, wiser, and more loving.
Hmmm…. Then why is it so stinking hard?
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.
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