Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 TPT
A mentor in recovery ministry once told me, “It's none of your business what others think of you!” It also occurred to me that it's none of my business what I think about myself if my thoughts are rooted in lies, shame, and cognitive distortions.
Gods opinion of me is the only one that really counts.
What I'm really interested in talking about in this blog post are the subjects of codependency and people-pleasing.
My simple definition of codependency is when a person is overly-involved in the life of someone else. The codependent is overly involved in other people's business. They feel free to cross boundaries because they don't apply to them. They have an opinion of what they think is best for you and use guilt and shame as tactics to elicit compliance with their expectations. They offer peace when you comply, and threaten conflict if you ignore their drama (demands).
Simply stated, they're territorial, intrusive, and sometimes abusive. They feel free to have an opinion on how you should live your life. They lie to you, they lie about you and misinterpret and misrepresent you. They aren’t evil people, they are broken and wounded people, and do not yet have the self-awareness or personal insight they need to regulate their behavior or properly articulate their feelings and pain. They do not see others for who they are but rather see others as they are.
The dependant often stays stuck, and can not move forward in making healthy changes in their life because there is nothing more aggravating to the codependent than the dependent getting healthy. The codependent needs someone to take care, or they lose their identity and sense of purpose in life. They literally keep the dependent sick and stuck.
Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself.” Brennan Manning
Before you get angry and automatically assume I am talking about you (the reader), let me assure you that I am really talking about me. The above mentioned thoughts are a description of my own past thinking and corresponding behaviors. If you identify with anything I've written, then take heart, you can change, just like I have.
If you think this doesn't apply to you, let me offer some additional diagnostic criteria for your consideration.
Have you ever thought about the meaning or value you assign or attach to the thoughts, postings, or actions of others? Has it been predominantly negative? Are these thoughts rooted in suspicion, are they conspiratorial, and are you the only putting the pieces together? You've got it (or them) figured out? God has given you revelation knowledge on what's best for them, you understand their motives, and you've already predicted the outcome? If you've answered “yes” to any of these statements, you might be a codependent!
Relax, it's not the end of the world. It just means you're a human being. We've all been the dependent and the codependent at one time or another in our lives.
In order to live free from the opinions of others, we need to first be free from the negative opinions or false beliefs we have about ourselves. You also need to develop, communicate, and enforce new boundaries with those who are intruding upon your life, when they are being malicious, rather than being supportive or encouraging.
The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.” Brennan Manning
Social media in all of it's permutations has blurred the lines on what healthy, boundaried communication looks like. People feel free to write or say whatever they want to say, without regard for how it makes them look or how it influences other people's perception of themselves. The screen and keystrokes lull the person into a false sense of security because they don't see the actual impact their actions have on the face or life of another.
In fact, it's none of my business what you think of me, nor will I make it my business. If my life choices don't match what you think I should be doing with my life, my family, and my time, well that's, your business, not mine.
How much do we really know about one another? Do we know one anothers struggles, triumphs, or tragedies? Are we the experts on whats best for each other? Are we obligated to seek consent from others how we live our own lives? Are we gossiping, when we claim we’re praying?
The answer is, “no we are not!”
I have a deep and abiding respect for people that care about me and my late wife, but none of you were there during the highs and lows. None of you really know a thing about our life together and the love we shared, and I do not intend make it your business.
In conclusion, it may not have occurred to others, that I am following what I believe to be God’s will for my life. I will continue to live my life the best I can, with a broken heart on the mend, and the joy of a new beginning. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly in Christ.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Jeremy Evans
*Please forgive my brevity, I am blogging from my iPhone.