Today is my older daughter’s 30th birthday. It seems like a good day to reflect on the bondage of codependency–something I’ve dealt with her whole life and even before she was born.
I went to my older edition of Webster’s to find a definition for codependency, but couldn’t find the word in there. Next I went to Google, and here is what I found:
–“Codependency or Codependence is a tendency to behave in ways that negatively impact one’s relationships and quality of life. This behavior may be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, compliance, and/or control patterns.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency
How often people have said to me, “You keep trying to be in control.”
–“suffering and/or dysfunction that is associated with or results from focusing on the needs and behavior of others…”
As a Christian I confess that often I’ve been focused or even consumed with the needs and behaviors of rathers rather than focusing on the Lord and what He wants to do in and through me.
–“A set of maladaptive compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress.” www.treatmentsolutionsnetwork.com/dictionary.aspx
Since this is a learned behavior, I can unlearn it. That’s good news!
—“This is a relationship addiction in which a person living with or caring for a person with a substance abuse problem hinders their recovery by enabling or allowing that person to carry on with their addiction. People who are codependent often suffer from a low self-esteem and feel victimized.” www.drug-alcohol-rehabcenters.com/addiction-glossary-terms/
I’ve often felt like the victim of other people’s addictive behaviors.
–“codependent -A person who is unfulfilled, constantly in relationships, is indirect, unassertive when they have a need; the person will also exhibit symptoms such as controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism, avoidance of feelings, intimacy problems and is a caretaker of others.”
The symptoms described in the definition above are all ones I can relate to.
Another definition for codependency that came to me awhile ago is “false responsibility.” Those of us in bondage to this tend to try to do for others what only they or God can or should do. Some have described it as trying to be someone’s savior or playing the Holy Spirit. The world may call codependency a disease, but when I look at the behaviors displayed in my life because of it, I know it’s a sin-sickness.
Often the behavior kicks in when God, the real Savior, seems to be doing nothing to remedy another person’s faults or circumstances, so the codependent feels obliged to step in and do something.
Codependency started for me in childhood due to problems that existed in relationships there. God has brought me a long way in being set free from this addictive behavior, but I still find myself slipping back into it.
The verses in the Bible that seem to address codependency are found in Galatians 6.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” Galatians 6:2-5 NIV.
I like what The Message Bible says for verse 5:
“Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
Next week, I’ll talk more about how to attain freedom, and we’ll examine these verses. In the mean time, let’s meditate on them and see what the Lord has to say to us individually.
Can you identify any codependent relationships in your life? Are you ready to be set free?