Friday, March 15, 2013

Lessons From a Recovering Codependent

We're all recovering from something. 

I spent most of my teenage and young adult years saying "yes" to every destructive person and action in my life.

I'm sure somewhere in there it stems from "daddy" issues. Ya know, my dad being perfect and me never living up to the role, trying to somehow fit into a mold I never fit into, flinging myself into the opposite direction instead, accepting every bad thing into my life because there was never a chance of being perfect. Why try?

I never learned how to say "no" to negative things and people in my life. Instead, I learned how to manipulate, how to make people fall in love with me, how to keep boys interested, how to be the girl each one wanted me to be. I learned how to fit into new molds, and because I was afraid of my significant other leaving me, I would bend to their every whim, destroying myself in the process. Hello codependency.

Of course, when this way of living nearly drove me to madness, God intervened and asked, "Are you ready for me to take these burdens you've been trying to carry? Are you ready to give it up?"

I was tired. I was broken. I was ready. I let go.

So now what happens? I still don't know how to say "no." You want to run a ministry? Yes. You want to be in charge of this event? Yes. You want to lead? Yes. You want to fix this boy so he can be the one God has for you? Yes. You want to pick this person up because they're stupid drunk? Yes. You want to help every person in every situation and be the savior? Yes.


I ran on my own strength.
I led in my own power.
I tried to save, to take the place of the God who saved me.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk among my friends and I about boundaries.

It was after I was burning out on ministry and trying to save everyone that I actually took a class called "Boundaries." It seems silly to take a class that teaches how to have appropriate boundaries, but no one teaches us these things. Especially when it comes to dating relationships within the Church.

Ya wanna know how dating works in the Church? Make a young adult group, throw men and women in there, let them start hitting on each other, and BOOM, you've got a hodgepodge of insecure, codependent people focused on finding a mate rather than finding and serving God. And that's how it usually works. Then, no one really knows how to date in a healthy way, so what happens? Guys and gals spill their hurts and emotions to one another, console one another, feel for one another, get emotionally intimate, start feeling like this person is my best friend, we'll hang out alone together because we feel that is safe because we're so emotionally close, then maybe we start sleeping together because that's the obvious next step, then maybe we move in together, or if we're too afraid of what people may say, we keep it under wraps and get defensive when our friends say something about it being unhealthy. And our mutual codependency eats at us because we are wrapped up in each other instead of God.

Story of my life.

I never realized that spilling my heart out to a guy was more intimate for me than sex.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

Guarding my heart and guarding someone else's means not being intimate in any way until we've made a commitment to each other. Guarding my heart means I don't spend time alone with a guy, I don't tell him the heart issues I struggle with, I don't spill out my past hurts and history to him, I don't look to him to fix me.  I don't allow him to spill out his heart to me, I don't try to fix him, I don't allow him to start looking to me instead of God for his comfort and security. I keep my interactions with men public, because anything I have to say to a man should be able to be said publicly. I need accountability. I need women and married couples in my life to keep me accountable for my actions and my words with men. As soon as I think I don't need accountability, I will get myself in trouble and I will overstep those healthy boundaries God has created for me.

I told my friend recently that the only reason I would ever get married is because I had found someone I could serve God better with than without. Shouldn't that be the only reason to marry?

I need healthy boundaries when it comes to friendships so I do not try to fix my friends, or to save them from unhealthy situations. I am no savior. I need to come alongside my friends, help them carry their burdens to the Cross to lay them at the feet of the One who can save and heal them.

I need healthy boundaries when it comes to ministry. If I am in it to save people or pluck them from their situations, I am not in it for the right reasons. I should be in ministry to bring the light of God to them, to allow God to heal them, and to let God work in the situation, especially if that means me getting out of the way.

I cannot save broken people. Because I could not, and cannot, save myself. I know from experience that my brokenness is only healed by God, by His Spirit at work in me and in those around me. I cannot fix anyone. But I can point people in the direction of the Son. I can say "no" to my habits of trying to give everything to everyone, trying to fix and heal them. I can acknowledge my inadequacies, knowing I do not have the tools or skills to help people in certain situations, but I can pray and I can join with other people who have those skills, being part of the Body of Christ to ministry to those who need it.

God gave us boundaries to keep us in healthy relationship with Him and with those around us. It has taken me years to come to this point, and I am still learning.

I am learning that my healing comes from God and from other women in my life.
I have learned that I can say "no" to destructive things in my life.
I have learned that I can say "no" to good things in my life when I know God wants me to wait for the best.
I am learning that I am no savior, but I can encourage and give advice in healthy ways.

I have learned, and continue to learn, that my identity is not wrapped up in men, ministry, lifestyle, words, or actions.

My identity is in God alone, in my Love Jesus, in God's Spirit who lives and works in me.

And because I love her, and she has a tendency to put my thoughts into words, here's my favorite song by Miss Ani Difranco:

"I am not a pretty girl,
that is not what I do,
I aint no damsel in distress,
and I don't need to be rescued,
so put me down, punk,
wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?"


  1. Right reason to get married Tarrin! I'm doing the same!

  2. Yay! I finally found your blog. :) I love love love this, thank you for sharing it.