In the back of your mind, co-dependency is known to be a bad thing; but if you’re a parent with kids at home right now, you might be in a co-dependent relationship with one or more of your kids anyway. If you feel like you’re living your son’s or daughter’s life almost as much as s/he is, then you could fit in this category of co-dependency. Why is this happening? With the experiences, pressures, and influences the next generation faces today, some co-dependency might not be so black and white as days gone by; and a certain degree of co-dependency might not be so bad anymore.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
If your co-dependency looks like the first list below, it may have gotten out of hand, and you might need some help balancing out your relationships. However, if your co-dependency fits into the second list, you’ve probably just adjusted to parenting the kids of today, and can successfully make changes when necessary.
Co-dependency with your kids is not good if:
- it’s impacting other relationships
- it’s tearing down your self-worth
- you’re trying to control and manipulate
- you’re jealous and possessive
- you cannot manage anger
- you significantly fear abandonment
- you inappropriately act their age
- your actions fuel immature actions in your child
- you’re so addicted you can’t conceive of the relationship changing
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ…For each will have to bear his own load. (Gal. 1:10; 6:5)
Co-dependency with your kids might be okay if:
- it’s not significantly impacting your identity, other relationships, or quality of life
- it’s motivated by love and blessed by the Lord
- you know it’s temporary
- the relationship is producing positive results
- you’re willing to make a plan towards an eventual, interdependent version of the relationship
- you’re accountable to someone to 1) help you keep it from becoming problematic and 2) support you as you bring the co-dependency aspect to an end, when the timing is right
The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1)
You’ve taken the steps to be a Christian (click here for last week’s article on the journey from spiritual death to eternal life), but you worry you’re missing something. You wonder why you feel more aligned with the label “sinner” than the status of “righteous man/woman.” You’re even feeling like you’re just not as good as some of the other Christians you know. Why is this and what can you do?
Reason (any of the following may apply to you)
- You struggle with shame (the sense that something is wrong with you)
- You dwell on your failures more than on His faithfulness
- You live in a performance-driven world
- You haven’t been a Christian long enough to have experienced significant seasons of purification
Commit to daily (maybe sometimes hourly or minute-by-minute) remembrance of what is true.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. Last week you were encouraged to read Ephesians 2:1-10 daily. Now you’re challenged to memorize verses 5-10 in your translation of choice. Hiding these Words in your heart will remind you:
- You were at your absolute worst when He resurrected you with Him
- You have citizenship in heaven with the Savior of the world
- One of His constant activities is to show you grace
- You didn’t have to lift a finger to make any of this happen
- There is good assigned to you now – all you have to do is receive it and live it out faithfully – by His doing
2. Become convinced that your feelings of inadequacy are just that – feelings. Not fact. If you experience the Spirit of the Savior living in you, then you’re plenty good enough. In fact, having Him in you is the key to being and becoming the most good anyone can be. When you doubt this, see number 3. And repeat as needed. The Holy Spirit will enable you.
3. Be aware when shame, the enemy, the world, and/or your raw nature are messing with your thoughts and feelings about who you are. That’s when you know it’s time to recalibrate yourself to the truth (such as Ephesians 2:1-10): Christian, you’re a masterpiece!
Believer in Christ, before you discovered Jesus, you were spiritually dead. He was with you and drawing you to Him because you were desperately missing something.
All the worst things you ever believe about yourself now, were actually true before you met Jesus. In fact, no matter how much good was in you before Jesus saved you from sin, it wasn’t enough.
That’s why the negative things you sometimes believe about yourself now feel so close to the truth. Feeling bad about yourself and who you are seems right to you for a reason. That’s because this used to be your reality. In the not so distant past, every negative thought about you and critical word said about you used to be true. Even the belief that “we just have this one life to live…we die…and then it’s all over” feels like it could be true. That’s because before the gift of eternal life, it was true.
If it were not for God’s grace, you would have good reason to feel bad about yourself.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
God’s Word explains why your negative history truly is a thing of the past. This entire article is based on Ephesians 2:1-10. Read it every day for a period of time (maybe for the whole season of Lent) so that it will sink in deeply and permanently.
But, don’t rush to hear the good news. You can’t appreciate the extraordinary rescue until you spend some time pondering your former sin-state.
Keep in mind that being saved by the Risen Savior doesn’t mean you used to do all bad things and now you do all good. Being saved means you used to be dead and now you are alive by His resurrection.
And don’t live in fear that you’re going to be dead again. You can’t be somewhat alive. If Jesus is your Savior now, then you are fully alive now. God said your status is: Alive. Free. Forgiven.
In conclusion, spend this week feeling relieved and utterly grateful that thanks to God’s grace you’re not in that spiritual bad place anymore. And stay tuned for next week’s article that features how being alive makes you good enough and gives you self-worth…
As a Christian wanting to feel more confident, you’ve studied the Gospel, acknowledge the human sinful condition, and claim your status in Christ as a believer. (Foundation). You’ve also dug into Scriptural passages that speak of the Lord’s proclamation of love for His people. (Bond) (for details, click here for last week’s article). But some of you are stuck.
Specifically about a personal connection to Jesus, some of you are asking:
Since God loves everyone, how can I feel like His love and messages apply specifically to me?
Excellent question! Look no further than your own life to find the answer.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1.He is alive in your circumstances.
Filled up with truth and perspective from His Word, you can purpose to see Him at work in your life in such a unique and detailed way that you truly understand how His love for you is personal.
Study the following examples of how the Lord has done this for others:
- The bush burned specially for Moses. (Ex. 3:2)
- Jonathan’s loyal friendship was chosen specially for David. (1 Sam. 14:7)
- Loving care was provided through David specially for Mephibosheth. (2 Sam. 9:7)
- The temple construction was not given to David, but reserved specially for Solomon. (1 Chron. 22:9-10)
- Esther was specially chosen to live at a time when she could save her people. (Esther 4:14)
- Preparing the way for the Son of God was the role assigned specially to John the Baptist (Lk. 3:3-4)
- Even though a former murderer, Paul was specially charged with the task of writing the majority of the New Testament. (Gal. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:13-14)
- The future of Jesus Christ was specially revealed to the disciple John. (Rev. 1:1)
2.He defines you in your circumstances.
Moved by His precise, customized work in your situation, you can begin to open yourself up to be molded by Him. Once that happens, you find yourself able to productively respond and function in ways that can only be explained by this intimate love relationship at work.
Review the following instances of such transformation:
- Abraham went from scoffing at God to trusting Him with his son’s very life. (Gen. 17:17; 22:8)
- Naomi’s bitter grief turned to productivity when she guided Ruth to the family’s redeemer. (Ruth 1:13; 3:1)
- Solomon grew from a child who didn’t know which way to go, to having the most wise and discerning mind ever given by God. (1 Kings 3:7, 12)
- Peter denied his connection to the Lord three times before becoming the rock upon which Christ built the church. (Mt. 16:18, 26:70; Acts 1:15)
- The woman of Samaria, convicted for living with a man who was not her husband, rushed out in freedom to tell the town that Christ had come. (John 4:18, 39)
He cares specially for each and every one of you (Mt. 18:12) to be transformed into His image. (2 Cor. 3:18)
You’ve concluded that it’s you. Something about you messes up relationships…causes people to leave you out…makes you disappointing or not measure up…or causes things to happen only to you. Thinking this way can make you emotionally and spiritually ill from a mass of self-condemnation.
But what might happen if you produced antibodies of repentance instead?
What if you looked at each troubled relationship, each instance of rejection, and each personal shortcoming and circumstance and accurately took responsibility where appropriate, and then rested in the promises of God for everything else?
Such true repentance is the Lord’s treatment plan for self-condemnation:
First, He wants you to see the full picture. You are right that something is wrong with you, but it’s not just you. There is not something specific to your condition that makes you more of a loser than anyone else. (Lam. 1:8; Rom. 3:23, 5:19; Rev. 3:17b)
Second, He wants you to have the good habits of regular confession so you can continually experience forgiveness. (Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13; Mk. 1:4; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:23; Jas. 5:16; 1 Jn. 1:9, 4:15)
Third, He wants you to receive the loving gift of repentance and its benefit of freedom. (Acts 5:31, 11:18: Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Rev. 3:18)
Therefore with each added act of confession, you are building strong defenses of repentance, restoring health to your mind and soul. (Lev. 26:40-45; Lk. 3:8; Acts 3:19-26, 26:20; Rom. 8:1, 2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 3:19-21)
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Fears, habits, shame, and/or spiritual warfare can explain why some Christians struggle severely with self-condemnation, even if you know all of the above. Being accountable to Christ and to godly counsel gives repeated opportunity for truth to be spoken into the lies that feed self-condemnation. Don’t stop working for your remission while you wait for the day when all struggles will pass away. (Rev. 21:4b)
You know the obvious traits of a responsible person, such as keeping up with your belongings, showing up to work or school on time, paying your bills, and prioritizing your daily activities. Those skills are taught from an early age and are somewhat reinforced in this culture.
However, there is a deeper layer of personal responsibility – socially and relationally – that modern American society no longer encourages. Yet, unchanging Scripture commands you to take ownership anyway.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Taking Responsibility in a Social Context:
For example: Let’s say you are the first female employee to ever be hired at your company. You go out to dinner with all of your male colleagues and feel left out of their conversation. The world would tell you to be offended if these men don’t have immediate acceptance of you as their new female colleague. God’s Word would lead you to engage them in conversation so that you could earn their respect. Do you think you would feel more competent if the men were forced to accept you, or if you were able to earn your place in their circle?
The world wants to make you irresponsible; but live by Biblical principles of personal responsibility and watch your confidence and self-worth increase.
“After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Lk. 2:46
Taking Responsibility in an Interpersonal Context:
For example: What if you feel like your husband isn’t meeting your needs. He isn’t that great of a listener, doesn’t predict what would make you feel special, and seems to care more about his interests than what matters to you. The world would say he isn’t being a good husband. God’s Word would ask you if you are thinking of your husband as greater than yourself. Do you think your husband will be more drawn to you if you are focused on making him a better husband, or making yourself a better wife?
The world wants to make you irresponsible; but live by Biblical principles of personal responsibility and watch your relationships prosper.
“For each will have to bear his own load.” Gal. 6:5