Breaking Up With Codependence
“When I thought, ‘my foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul . . .
The Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.”
Psalm 94:18-22 (ESV)
I’ve been quiet on the blog for a few weeks. I was not yet ready to write because I was still processing new lessons born from challenges and change. It’s been painful but also full of grace and freedom.
What challenges is God using in your life to make you more whole?
What lessons are you drawing from the pain?
I’ve had to face an idol of striving to maintain equilibrium in my relationships.
I love empathizing with others and can feel deeply what it might be like to take another’s perspective, to walk in their pain. This is a gift. Yet, as a result, I can think too highly of the emotions and views of others, leading to bouts of crippling anxiety and depression.
I’m learning to dig deeply into the emotions that have frightened me in the past. Deep inside my anger is hurt and disappointment. I need to speak the truth of those hurts, to express the sadness and anger. Without venting. Without using words that scald.
And I need to be okay if the other person is not okay with the truth, with the emotion, with the invitation to change the relationship. Do you hear the codependence vying for power here?
I have realized this summer that one of the things that most obstructs my God-given freedom to be the leader, friend, daughter, mother, wife, and sister I really am is my obsession with the imagined or real thoughts, emotions, and actions of others.
Right now, God is using (at least) three things to set me free:
He is reminding me; “You are the beloved. Walk with me. This moment is beautiful. You are exactly where I want you to be. Choose to delight in the gift of your family of three, on the journey I have you on, in the ordinary and extraordinary of this day.”
–His affirmations breed contentment in my heart. Worship. Joy. Rest.
He loves me right now, in this mess, in the not-yet portion of him making this right in my heart.
–My deepened understanding of grace brings such peace in Jesus. I am already free. He is making me free. HE is doing the work. Open hands, palms outstretched. You are the author and re-maker of each of us.
Training my thoughts back to God and me, away from ruminating on the past and on the possibilities of what others are thinking or feeling. I can choose my response, my plans for change. My life is my responsibility, and it is plenty.
–Through release, I’m enjoying greater gratitude, power, and positive identity, a renewed sense of self-compassion and capacity to live the life God has dreamed for me.
One of the voices that have spoken truth to me this summer, amidst these challenges, is Brené Brown. In her own process of learning to speak her truth to others, she has devised this mantra: “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Stand on your sacred ground.” 
What mantra would you use to remind yourself to be more of who you truly are the next time you’re in a relationally derailing situation or challenging leadership context?
As women who care deeply about influencing and developing other women, we can easily fall into traps of caring too much or connecting our hearts to others in ways that grow unhelpful for us and for them. Wherever you are on your own journey in laying down relationship idols, I hope this is a whisper of God’s grace (he’s crazy about you, right this moment!) and a tight hug of appreciation for who you are.
 Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Center City, MN: Hazelden
You spoke words I couldn’t find …to describe my journey exactly. Thank you! It was so familiar …perfect for me. God knew…
Joy, that’s awesome. I love how God reads and refreshes our hearts when we can’t find the words. I’m also so thankful for the “me too” from sisters that let me know I’m not alone in this, that the pain of the journey is for a purpose. He’s so faithful!
I need a mantra! This has been a challenging month for me at work. I’d love to walk in and quit, but I can’t. So I’m sucking it up. Perhaps my mantra would be, “I’m not who they say I am. I am who GOD says I am.”
Jane, I love your mantra–and the courage you’re demonstrating to stick with it when you’d rather quit! Your mantra reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” May you find strength today to carry on in bravery and perseverance!
Sarah, wonderful blog. So often we put thoughts into others that aren’t really there, they are just a reflection of thoughts we are having about our self. Our fears that we won’t measure up, aren’t good enough, or whatever. We need to think the thoughts that God thinks of us, and let all else slip away.
Janet, thank you for your response. Yes! I love God’s gentle invitation to lay down the burden of fearing what others think of us and living in the truth He so boldly declares over us. We are His children, holy and dearly loved!