The Trap of Self-Sufficiency

Have you ever tried to do something that requires two people, but somehow convince yourself you can do it alone? Yep, me too.

Many years ago, we were moving from the Bay Area in California up to the Sacramento area. All in all it’s about a 2 – hour drive and we tackled the move by making several small trips. While my husband was at work one day, I decided I would dismantle the crib and begin to pack up some furniture and clothes to take to our new home.

He cautioned me to wait for him to come home and that I really shouldn’t do it by myself. He should know he put the thing together, but I thought how hard could it be?
I wanted to prove to him and myself that I could do it on my own. I needed to prove to myself that I was more than just a mom and that I was capable of more than just making meals and doing laundry.

I didn’t need or want his help. I wanted to do it. I would show him what I could do by myself. So I set about gathering the tools, turned on some music and got to work. I managed to get all the screws out with ease and even got a few of the pieces removed.

And then it happened.

Just as I was bending over to pull the bottom bracket away from the side rail, I felt something snap. It was not the crib. It was me. More specifically, it was my back. I instantly fell into a heap on the floor. Writhing in pain, I lay on the floor motionless and trying to simply breath through the pain.

I lay there for an hour or more. Tears running down my cheeks. I cried tears of pain, and tears of shame. In my insistence of doing this job myself, I denied my husband the opportunity to help me. Further more I put myself at risk by choosing to ignore the warnings.

Self – sufficiency is a trap.

It lures us into the ideal that we can take care of things on our own. It taunts and calls to us that we SHOULD be able to do it on our own and further more it reinforces and reaffirms our twisted sense of self, when are successful in our super Herculean tasks that we take on by ourselves.

Self – sufficiency can leave us lying on the floor, isolated and helpless if we give it too much power in our lives. Over time we can distort the need to be self- sufficient to the extent we find ourselves unable and unwilling to accept help or admit need.

We were made for relationship, for connection, for fellowship and intimacy.
When we wrap ourselves in the cloak of self-sufficiency, we communicate to others that we are unavailable and unapproachable, which leaves us isolated and alone.

Self – sufficiency is a double-edged sword. Initially intended to protect, it becomes heavy and burdensome and eventually becomes a prison.
Luckily for us God has provided help. He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and to set us free from the captivity of self-sufficiency.

Hide and Seek

Growing up you probably played the game hide and seek. I think it may be one of the first games I played with my daughter.

There is something magical for a child to know they are sought after. My daughter could never stay hidden long enough for me to find her…she would pop out and say, “here I am mommy!”

Playing hide and seek as a kid was fun. There was excitement and anticipation in hiding as well as in being found.

As we grew up this game became more sophisticated. We got better at hiding. We learned to conceal our emotions. We could stay in our hiding places longer and we learned not to “out” ourselves.

Many of us have learned to hide our pain, failure, insecurities and our sin, leaving us living as emotional fugitives.

The problem is many of us have been playing the game for so long, we forgot who we are and that we are hiding.

When we live in fear of being known, we miss out on real, authentic community and relationship. The fear of rejection and exposure threatens us and pushes us back into our hiding place.

I know a little bit about the game of hide and seek. I have a varsity letter in it!

I grew up in a dysfunctional home. My parents divorced when I was young and my father was an abusive alcoholic. When I was in high school, I was so afraid of my friends discovering what my life was really like, that I never invited anyone over. Ever.

This was just the beginning of my hiding. Over the years I became highly successful at hiding (or so I thought). Outwardly I was an easygoing, carefree girl. On the inside I was a hot, angry mess. I was desperate to be known but ashamed of who I was and who I was not, and so I hid.

I hid because I was afraid people would reject me if they knew the “real me”. I assumed that I was the only one who struggled with feeling angry and so let shame force me into emotional seclusion and isolation.

Eventually my ability to hide became a problem. I was in full time ministry and my unresolved issues were impairing my ability to make deep, lasting relationships. Something had to give. I had to “out myself” from the game.

Over time, I slowly began to trust the Lord and the people He had placed in my life. It has been a long process of self-discovery, forgiveness, trust and awareness.

Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, because they sinned and they were ashamed. Hiding comes naturally to us as a result of the fall. How we choose to respond to Gods voice when He calls to us is our choice.

God’s heart toward us is good, kind and loving. He calls us out of our hiding places, not to humiliate us or shame us. He calls us out so He can redeem and restore our hurts, our habits and our sinfulness.

God designed us to live in fellowship and freedom with Him and with others.

The Lord is seeking you friend, the question is, do you want to be found?

Grace & Peace ~ Karen

Boundaries Redefined

Today I’d like to introduce you to a woman with a beautiful heart. I first met Alece on the pages of her blog and also on Deeper Story where she often blogs about life, faith and her experience in the journey of life.
I really appreciate her honesty and willingness to be transparent and authentic in her faith and relationship with God. I know your hearts will be moved by what Alece has to share today.

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God’s given me stewardship over my feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.
I need to recognize and guard them as gifts from God.

Because they are.
He’s given me responsibility over those things, and I have complete freedom to choose what I do with them.

They are, in fact, the only things I truly control.

But I often forget that.
And when I forget, I live with unhealthy boundaries.

When I allow others’ words and actions to dictate how I respond, I forfeit my freedom. I hand over the power I have to choose. I surrender the control and stewardship I’ve been given by God.

I allow others to define me instead of embracing God’s definition of me.

On the flip side, when I forget the freedom others have, I try to take responsibility for what they alone are stewards over. I attempt to fix people, overcompensate for them, or smooth things over when they are upset. But in doing so, I am overstepping my boundaries.

I am responsible only for my own life.

Having and enforcing boundaries isn’t about controlling or punishing others.

It’s about treasuring and guarding the feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors God has given me stewardship over.

Living with healthy boundaries means not attempting to take responsibility for others’ responses and choices, and not forfeiting the responsibility I have over my own.

I’ve lived my whole life with unhealthy boundaries. In some ways, I’ve lived with no boundaries at all.

My emotions and inner commentaries are often swayed by others’ words, actions, and attitudes.

And I am quick to take responsibility for other people’s choices.
But I want to live different.

I want to live free and healthy, and in a way that helps others live free and healthy as well.

I can’t really say that I’ve gotten better at not responding based on how others treat me.

In fact, if I’m being most honest, I still don’t really know how to even change that… how to not be so deeply affected by others.

And right now, my struggles with this are really causing my heart to hurt. There’s a stinging ache deep inside me that just seems to hurt more everyday.

But I’ve become more aware of those moments where I hand control over to someone else. And those moments where I take on what isn’t mine to carry.

I see it for what it is now, which is more than I’ve ever done before.
And that gives my heart hope.
Even while she hurts.

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Alece is in the middle of the biggest Plan B of her life, enduring infidelity, divorce, and the loss of her ministry in Africa. Now she’s rediscovering what faith really is, trusting God to redeem the broken pieces of her life and make something beautiful out of her ashes. Alece blogs candidly about the grit and glory of her journey. Mostly grit.
Visit Alece’s blog | Follow Alece on Twitter

I’m Back…

I’m back online and some of you have asked how it went UN plugging for 24 hours. It was good in a couple of ways.
First off, it caused me to be purposeful in getting things done prior to black out. I had to be sure that I met my deadlines so that I was not using it as an excuse to shirk my responsibilities. This was helpful as I managed my time much more effectively and actually got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time.
Secondly, it allowed me to be present with my husband and daughter. No incessant checking email, facebook & Twitter to see what everyone else was doing or to announce to the world what I was doing (as if they somehow wanted to know my every move).
I was able to sit with my daughter and help her work on her school project. We had a great time sitting around the kitchen table as a family free from distraction or “techno – obligation”. I went to her volleyball practice and observed many of the other moms glued to their phones. I actually witnessed a woman reading a book to someone over the phone while watching practice and occasionally looking up to wave at her child. This was a real eye opener. I might have missed it had I too been looking at my phone.
Thirdly, I experienced the freedom from others having instant access via text or chat. I have somehow convinced myself over the last few years that if someone text’s me it must be really important so I should respond instantly. I’ve never been a big text-er. Maybe it is because I prefer to communicate in complete sentences or maybe it is because I prefer to hear someone’s voice. In any event I enjoyed knowing that I was in control over that aspect of connection and discovered that I am not obligated to jump to it just because someone text’s me.
I realized that technology has an important role in society and in my life. I love the fact that I can video chat, share thoughts, pictures and a bit of my self via the Internet and on this blog. I love the idea of using technology to enhance relationships and communication. And now I have a healthy respect for taking a break from technology and UN plugging.
As I debriefed this little experiment with my friend Suzanne, we talked about how many people have lost the ability to engage in face-to-face communication. We have become numb and oblivious to social skills and the art of being with someone. We are often so concerned with what else is happening that we check out of the situation we are in physically in search of something bigger or better.
So in summary, the experiment worked. I have realized the good, the bad and the ugly about the role of technology in my life. I have become aware of my weak spots and how I use it as an escape. I recognize that I can choose to have technology dictate my habits, or I can choose to set healthy boundaries for myself, and how I use technology. I hope to continue to practice UN plugging on a regular basis.
If you have under taken a technology fast, let me know how it went for you….I would love to hear what your experience has been.

Grace & Peace…..Karen

I have a secret

I have a secret. And in the spirit of self-disclosure I have decided it is time for me to come forward and share. It’s one I have keep to myself for years. I have been too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. I think I should know better. It’s bad for my health. It’s a guilty indulgence. I feel some shame over the fact that I sneak my indulgence. I get it when no one is looking. I cover up that I have had it and feel guilty as soon as it is finished. I make excuses as to why I want it and pretend like it’s for someone else to avoid judgment. So, what exactly is this secret that causes guilt, shame and embarrassment yet keeps me coming back for more?
I love hostess cup cakes. Yep – there I said it. Hostess cupcakes.
Little chocolate cakes infused with artificial white lard filling and carefully placed chocolate lard icing complete with faux white swirls of decadent goodness.
When I eat them I am transported in time to when I was a kid. For a moment I am carefree and aware only of the taste of chocolate and I am intoxicated by the frosting.
Now I know that many of you are thinking, “that is a lame secret”!!
But before you judge let me say this. We all have things in our life that we are ashamed of. Maybe it’s a bad habit like biting your fingernails, or watching Real Housewives of New Jersey, or gambling money you don’t have, abusing prescription drugs, viewing pornography, having an inappropriate thought life or that you engage in self defeating self talk and distorted thinking.
When we hold onto something that causes us to feel guilt, shame & embarrassment we give that thing power over us. The funny thing about secrets…they gain power and strength when they stay in the dark. The secret whispers things in our ears like, “if people knew what you were really about” or “you are dirty and bad because______.” We buy into the lie and make a pact to keep it to ourselves and play pretend that all is well. The secret tells us we are bad, we are less than, that people won’t respect us, that we are not worthy of God’s love. But I have learned that secrets lose their power when we bring them out into the light. Once addressed in the light of day, in the light of God’s grace, love and forgiveness the secrets that once held us captive lose their grip. When we are able to confess our sins, our secrets and our struggles to the Lord and yes even to one another an amazing thing happens….we experience freedom. So in the immortal words of William Wallace of Braveheart fame, we stand in Christ and shout….FREEDOM!

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.