Beginnings…the Birth of an Addiction to Self-Reliance

24 04 2012

Tuesday Re-mix -

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.

One of the ways I know I am not yet ready for even the first step of recovery (“STEP 1: Admit that you are powerless over your addiction…that your life has become unmanageable”) is that I am still looking for ways to fix my own addiction.  The “fixer” in me says, “If I can trace my addiction back to its inception and therefore know how it started, then I can stop it.”  Do you see how insidious addiction is?  Even my own attempts to heal myself betray me.  I will never be able to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to self-reliance as long as I keep telling myself that I can fix it!  And so I am asking your indulgence.  Sit back and have yourself a good laugh as I delve into my past to try to figure out where this addiction to self-reliance all started.

For me, I think it started when I was just a child going to Sunday School.  We would bring our offering in these little pink envelopes that the church printed for us.  They had our names on them.  On the front of them, they also had a little checklist of things a “good” Christian does.  I could check off the ones I had done that week.  “Present”, check. “Bible brought”, check.  “Tithe”, check.  “Contact made”…that meant calling or visiting someone and talking about God or Jesus or church or something spiritual…I could almost always think of sometime during the week I had used the word “God” in a sentence, so…check.  And so it began.  I became more interested in fulfilling these outward appearances than with actually growing.  It was like I was interviewing for a job as the perfect model Christian.  And the church rewarded me for it…it actually enabled that dysfunction.  I became more concerned with LOOKING the part of a Christian than actually GROWING as a Christian.  And here is the twist: once outward appearances became the priority, privacy and self-reliance likewise became absolutely critical.  After all, how could I ever look “good” to my church friends if I let them know my flaws and my failures? (And, by the way, the more “perfect” I convinced them I was, the more pressure they felt to portray the same perfection…we actually enabled each other’s addiction).

It is really not hard to see how it began.  It is actually much more difficult to figure out how it must all end…to envision what rock bottom must look like in order for me to admit I have a problem and that I am powerless to overcome it.  Must I become morally bankrupt in order to admit that I need accountability?  Must I find myself friendless and alone in order to come to grips with my need for community?  Oh, I hope not!

I suppose “rock bottom” is that point at which I finally and fully realize that, without Godly friends, I have no chance at all of ever becoming the man God wants me to be.  If the first step is admitting that, then the preparation for the first step somehow involved identifying where it all started.  “Preparation”, check.  Next week…STEP 1.

© Blake Coffee
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