Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sweet Surrender: The Beautiful Rhythm of Interdependence

This blog post is brought to you by my new iPad...it's currently housed in the case that I bought empty last December and prayed that it would one day be filled. 

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I have always been a little (okay...a lot) stubborn.

I am pretty sure one of my first phrases was, "Me do it," or some such sentence. My character/pysche/personality is such that I want to do things the way I think they are best done. I may take some help -- but only if the helper(s) see fit to do it the way I am doing things.

I would like to believe that my edges have been softened over the years. Having little ones for almost 12 years has dulled the blade of my perfectionism somewhat and as I have not been able to "do it all," I have let go of the idea of having "it all done."

Mostly.

Four kids later, as a homeschooling family, with a child who has some learning issues and therefore has therapies, tutoring, etc, and all that goes into daily family life, I am at the place in life where I am pretty much willing to accept help from whomever -- in whatever way they want to give it.

When you are living your life in the urgent from day to day, there is no time to be picky or insist on a "right way" of doing things. 


You are just trying to keep up and make it through each day alive and not in the loony bin.

I don't want it to sound like I have this all wrapped up, though. I do still struggle with feelings of failure or inadequacy when my sweet mother walks into my house and starts sweeping my floor or doing my dishes. 

But I have come to see that is everything to do with my pride and nothing to do with my mother's heart and her intentions to be a blessing to me.

Ahhh...pride.

The great stumbling block of young mothers everywhere -- a truly infectious disease of the 21st century.

Why have we swallowed the bright and shiny lie that needing help is a character defect?


Recently, a friend of mine was sinking. After weeks of being sick, her infant was no longer sleeping through the night. To make matters worse, her toddler started being afraid to go to sleep alone and then stay asleep alone. Literally, if it were not one child, it was the other -- all night. Every night. Did I mention that my friend was back to work full-time? Or that post-partum, her hormones and body were not back to their old selves?

All of this played into a devastating and debilitating period of time for my friend (and her spouse) where I could see the ship sinking, but didn't know what to do. The lack of sleep night after night erased the spark from her eyes and replaced it with a glazed expression that worried me. Tears were always close to the surface and her body started to respond to the constant stress by acting out in physically painful ways.

Something had to give.

So, being the intrusive friend that I am, I got up in her business and made a plan to help give her some relief. I simply couldn't stand by and watch her fade away anymore. I was truly worried for her mental and physical health.

When I broached her with my plan, her first response was, "it's okay...I've got this."

Me: "Umm...no, my friend...you don't have this. I am very worried for you. I'm worried that if you don't accept some help, you are going to wind up in the hospital or the psych ward."

Her: "I feel like I should be able to manage this. I choose to have this baby. This isn't my first child. I have a degree for heaven's sake. I should be better than this."

Me: "This is too much for anyone. I don't care what degree you have or how many children you have. This is not sustainable...for anybody."

Her:  Tears.

Me: Tears.


And so my beautiful brave friend made a choice to accept help. She didn't want to...everything cried out that she should "work it out" and "stay strong," and "be tough."

She said she didn't want to be weak. Or needy...or be a failure.

My heart broke for her because my heart understood hers. 

I don't want to be weak. Or needy. Or be a failure.

When did needing help become these things? How have we allowed a very basic human condition to have such a negative connotation?


As a Christian, I am called to a life of dependence. My income, my living situation, the kids I have, the plans I make -- my very next breath is dependent upon a life plan that my Creator has set for me. For me to believe that I can do any of it independent of Him is pure folly.

One of the entries for April 30 in Jesus Calling spoke volumes to me recently:

"Awareness of your inadequacy is a rich blessing, training you to rely wholeheartedly on Me. The truth is that self-sufficency is a myth perpetuated by pride and temporary success. Health and wealth can disappear instantly, as can life itself. Rejoice in your insufficiency, knowing that My Power is made perfect in weakness."

The Apostle Paul expresses it wonderfully in The Message version of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

"I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. 
Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.  
Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."


Truth be told, I struggle daily with this dependence. Yet ultimately, it is easier to depend upon my Father who has proven Himself over and over in my life, then to depend upon those around me to meet my needs?

Why?

Because I have been failed. I have been let down. I have let others down. This life has taught me that no human can be 100% trustworthy. So, I buck against the idea of having to place my life, my heart into the hands of another.

But, as a Christian, I am also called to do this as well.

To depend on others.

When my friend tried to talk her way out of needing help, I asked her what she would do if the situation was reversed. What if she saw me literally falling apart and could see that I was foundering? She hesitated (because she is smart and saw where this was going), but she admitted that she would be doing the same thing.

"So," I asked her, "why are you that less important? Why are you not worth someone intervening and helping?"

She didn't have an answer.


During this time, I read something one morning from my Mosaic Bible devotional penned by Steven Conrad that I immediately texted to her:

"Just as Jesus received from others, we are called to freely give and freely receive. In my own life, the pull toward independence is strong. I want to be self-sufficient. But God calls us toward interdependence. We are to live in the give-and-take of true community."

And there is the secret of it all.

Interdependence.


You see, it's much easier for me to receive help when I know that I am part of a something bigger. My perceived weakness is bolstered by my community's strength. 




Most of the time, it is just a season of life. Even though it may not be true in every situation, I am more apt to be dependent upon my friends and family when I remind myself that it's only temporary -- and that someday it will be my turn to have the strength and help to give.


And, I can only do that when I am healthy and strong.


And that someday, I will have all of the insight and compassion of someone who has walked that road and will be all the better of a friend for having done so.

My Mosaic Bible finished with something that has become my prayer since I first read it:

"...it's my desire to give and receive, to learn the beautiful rhythm of interdependence with others, and to live in the lavish grace that God pours upon us." 

Interdependence.


It has a rhythm. It ebbs and it flows.  It waxes and wanes. But it is continuous.

And it is beautiful.

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