My war against independence

independenceLove is tricky business.

Funny thing is, it’s supposedly the very thing that our faith is built on. This entire Christian thing is summed up in love.

At least it’s supposed to be.

But, this world has distorted our view of love.

It’s distorted mine.

The other day, God and I were having a rather intense conversation about this…he told me that this part of me is broken.

I was like, WHAT? I know how to love. I love really well. I’m not perfect, but I forgive, I honor, I am honest. I walk in love!

But, he was pointing at something deeper. A part of me that had been untouched for a long time…

Life experiences taught me that when I encountered real love, it usually meant heartbreak. It included pain.

I didn’t like that.

I didn’t trust that.

I guarded very tightly against that.

So, in my “Christian mind” I’d landed on this version of self-less love. Where I would pour a bunch of my time, resources and energy into you, but I would not expect or make room for love to be received in return.

Because that would mean vulnerability.

I could become needy.

I could become dependent on you.

THAT IS SCARY AND UNSAFE.

He showed me that the kind of love I had developed is not sustainable long term. Because He doesn’t love that way. I’m made to love the way He loves.

God’s love is risky.

He risks that we won’t love him in return.

He invests in us risking that we will walk away.

He plants deep roots risking that we will want to plant elsewhere.

But He doesn’t play safe.

THIS GRIPPED MY HEART.

HOW THE HECK DO WE DO THIS???!

I stayed up last night wrestling this out in my heart with him (yes, this is something God and I do. We talk through all hours of the night…makes me very tired the next day, but seriously. SO WORTH IT)

He broke this down for me:

My problem is not investing. My problem is not loving. My problem is not planting my roots deep with people. I am fully capable of all of those things. My problem is I fear them not doing the same.

When fear kicks in, something in me changes.

I turn immediately inward.

I become independent.

INCREDIBLY INDEPENDENT.

I put a small (yet very effective) wall in place inside my heart that guards it tightly. Preventing any sort of heartbreak or abandonment.

I’M VERY GOOD AT THIS.

Here is where I am broken. Here is where I am not like him. God does not do this. EVER. He is not moved by fear.

But, there is one being who is: Satan.

And ironically, Satan is the most independent being in existence. While God operates as a unit and interdependent being, Satan operates on his own. He has followers and legions that carry out his wishes, but ultimately, he is his own being.

If we are created like God, why do we think that independence is the safest answer?

It’s not.

It’s a lie.

Straight from the independent one himself.

This hit me. HARD.

Because my natural tendency is to respond to the feelings that fear ignites. (Loneliness, heartache, abandonment, rejection, insecurity). All of those feelings are secondary. But if I focus on them, I will wall off my heart and become an isolated independent island.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST COUNTERFEIT MESSAGE I BATTLE.

I only win this battle, when I move past the secondary feelings and focus solely on the primary issue: fear.

FEAR IS MY BATTLEGROUND.

I believe it is the battleground for every person who calls themselves a Jesus follower. Fear is the culprit behind nearly every secondary issue you face.

Fear is powerful.

It’s suffocating.

It will consume all of your attention if you allow it to.

But, if we can shift our attention off of the emotions – off of the feelings fear brings – and set our eyes on our enemy; we step into a battle that can be fought and won.

If I was going to beat my fear, I had to face it.

Here it is: I’m afraid of being left and rejected. (It’s a terrible feeling, but because of trauma I experienced, these roots go deep)

Thankfully, God gripped my hand and walked me into that battle.

This is what it looked like:

Me: God, I’m terrified of being left again! I can’t go through that pain again. I can’t open my heart and risk that again.

Him: What if that happened? What if you were left again? Then what?

Me: (after a long pause) I’d hold onto you

Him: Can you trust that I would restore you? That I would bring someone else to treasure you?

Me: (crying) No…I don’t trust you to do that. I’m sorry! I don’t. I just don’t.

Him: I’m asking you to take a risk. Risk letting me carry this. Let go of your fear and choose to trust me here.

I literally felt a war inside my soul.

I felt the pull towards independence and fear. I felt the desire to wall off and not trust. But, at the same time, I felt a gentle pull to trust him. I knew it was the safest…even though I didn’t feel like I could trust God here, I knew I needed to.

Me: (in angry tears) Okay. I will try. But you have to help me. I don’t know how to do this!

After this exchange, something revolutionary happened.

Peace slammed my heart.

LIKE OVERWHELMED IT.

The position of my heart changed.

I transitioned from conditional love into something deeper: covenant love.

With those he has called me to love inside of covenant, I am called to love with risk.

When the fears of being left or rejected come in, I must choose to push aside the feelings of potential loneliness and the ache of fearing rejection. I must force myself to face the fear.

I have to tell my soul that even if they leave, God will prepare someone else to take that place. He will guard me. If he calls me to love like this, he will protect my heart.

To walk like Jesus, we have to be willing to love like him. Fearlessly, shamelessly love. And that only happens when we trust him with the deepest, messiest guts of our hearts.

Anna

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

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20 thoughts on “My war against independence

  1. Yes, the loneliness, abandonment, and rejection is an area I am having to really wrestle with myself. Been down in it all day. Cried some, praised some, thanked some, and cried some more. Thank you for this and making me feel less alone!!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I am just completing a bible study with Lysa TerKeurst which speaks on this very subject! It has been a game changer for me! It’s called, “Uninvited, When we feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely. It speaks all about rejection and fear and how to overcome the pasts hurts that have changed our thinking. Hope you will take the time to check it out. Love your blog!

  3. Wow just wow!!! I’ve literally struggled with this my whole life but lately it has been on the forefront of my relationships. This post came at just the right time. I’m going to pray and talk to God tonight about this and look for direction in my own life on this. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this!

  4. Nicely said. I have been studying humility and meekness and this lines right up with all of what I’ve been working on !

  5. Oh my goodness, this is what I have been struggling with so much, but could not find the words for. Thank you so much for posting this and being vulnerable.

  6. Thanks for being so real. I appreciate your dialogue between you and God. Yes, God DOES speak this way to those who are willing to listen.
    Blessings!
    Beckie from Spotlight, beckielindsey16.com

  7. Excellent! As so many of us are broken people, we need this honest message! Honestly, more men should read this, as well, as we tend to be independent, to the point we file the hurt away and handle life as usual…ourselves.

    If I may add…you started with a mention of how the world has distorted love. It has been my observation that the Church has had a hand in that, as well. Because of the judgmental behavior, the shaming and the too often Pharisee-esque attitude, we have presented a form of conditional love that is not what Jesus exemplified or taught. We have a counterfeit idea of what it is to love one another as well as what it is to love our neighbor. Jussayin’.

    So you know, I will be passing this article along for others to read. Thank you for your transparent honesty.

  8. Pingback: My war against independence — just a jesus follower | As We Walk Together

    • I don’t know about Anna, but for me, there are nights that I just will not rest until God and I have hashed some things out. Recently, something has been waking me up in the wee hours with this sensation to pray urgently. It won’t relent. I find myself in conversation with God all day long with prayers of many kinds. If I get out of that habit, I find myself draining and missing His presence.

  9. I am so there! In fact, I’m posting a similar blog later in October. God has really challenged me to walk in His truth and take the risk versus clinging to the lies I’ve believed for forever and staying stuck. Great post!

  10. Pingback: My war against independence — just a jesus follower | Chats With God

  11. I know this was God. Every word written touched my soul. I feel the Holy Spirit breaking me down in this time in my life. Songs i wouldnt have felt anything towards, now have new meaning. I can feel Him rearranging the room in my heart, and this captures that perfectly. And it brought to light new things and convictions i didnt know were there. Thank you. 🙂

    • I think the Holy Spirit is doing this to a lot of us for our growth. I have not enjoyed this particular growth process, but I just keep trusting that God is working something out in me so he can be glorified. God bless you on your journey!

  12. You’ve nailed it here. Fear is the foundation of so many who have had someone leave a relationship for who knows what reason. I would venture that people that end relationships are motivated out of fear as well… a repeating cycle of fear.

    For the record… Anna, I love you.

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