ANON (Those Who Love Dysfunctional People)

Am I Codependent or being a Good Christian?

On the surface, codependency messages sound like Christian teaching:

    "Codependents always put others first before taking care of themselves."
    (Aren't Christians to put others first?) .

    "Codependents give themselves away."
    (Shouldn't Christians do the same?).

"Codependents martyr themselves."
(Doesn't Christianity honor its martyrs?)

Those statements have a familiar ring, don't they? Then how can we distinguish between codependency, which is unhealthy to codependents and their dependents, and mature faith, which is healthy.

Codependency says:.

    I have little or no value.
    Other persons and situations have all the value.

Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?

Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

    A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

Twelve Steps to Freedom

The Twelve Steps originated with Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid 1930's. Besides being used to help alcoholics and drug addicts, the Twelve Steps have been used in support groups for family members, over-eaters, compulsive gamblers, and even for those desiring to escape from sexual addiction. These Steps formed the basis of treatment and counseling activities at New Creation Center where I served as Executive Director for ten years in the 1980's.

In the past few years, a movement recognizing the power of the Twelve Steps has sprung up among evangelical Christians concerned with those struggling with various addictions. Some believers worry that they bring secular concepts to the Christian counseling field.

From where do these Twelve Steps derive their power? The answer is very simple; from the Bible! Although following the Steps does not always bring an alcoholic (or other sufferer) into a saving relationship with Christ, they do work in overcoming addictions. This is shown by the millions of people who have found sobriety since AA's beginning. In some ways, it is very much like the businessman who succeeds financially when he makes spiritual principles the basis of his business practices.

Acceptance of Habitual, Unrepentant Sinners

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 RSV
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Paul has been admonishing the Corinthian church for allowing (even welcoming) within their midst a man who is knowingly sinning . . . and continues to sin. This is a huge deal in our churches today because we embrace, even in our leadership, those who not only have sinned in the past, but who continue to embrace their sin in one way or another. We refuse to judge them based on the scripture in Matthew 7: Judge not, that you be not judged (v. 1, RSV). But I think the reason we refuse to judge is revealing. I think we refuse to judge, not out of some sense of obedience to God’s word, but because we don’t want anyone messing around in our lives. The old saying goes, "Birds of a feather flock together." We embrace sinners because we are sinners ourselves, but more than that: We don’t have to give up our own sin. By embracing the sin of others, we feel protected, justified.

When Loved Ones Resent Your Recovery

It is not uncommon for those who start a new life in recovery to encounter resentment from their spouses, loved ones and/or friends. If this is the case, you will be put to the test by those who care for you most. This can be confusing because those who should be encouraging you in recovery are actually making it more difficult.

Your spouse may become resentful because you are spending more time at recovery meetings and less time with them. Stand strong and lovingly explain to your spouse that you need to take time for yourself in order to get your life back on track. Suggest that they come with you to open meetings where the loved ones are welcome so they can better understand your recovery process.

What is Your Motivation when You are "Tolerant?"

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 RSV
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

If the apostle Paul, instead of writing this in one of the sacred epistles, had wrote this on an Internet message board or in a blog, I can hear the responses: “Judged? How can you judge him?” “The Bible tells us specifically not to judge one another.” “We need to love this man, not judge him.”

And yet, not only the sinful man, but the entire congregation . . . Paul judged! And pronounced sentence. He condemned what was happening among them.

Endure, Remain, Continue

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 RSV
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paul tells us that three things abide (endure, remain, continue): faith, hope, and love. The thing is, the only one that will exist forever is love. We know that the need for faith will fade. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1 RSV). Now, we don't see God. We must have faith to believe: "whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6 RSV). Once we see Him face to face, faith will be unnecessary.

Restoration Though Making Amends (Part 1)

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23, 24)

A rescue mission counselor asked me to talk with a man who had returned to their recovery program for the third time. Despite completing their program twice, he was unable to remain sober for more than a few months. Not too far into our discussion, I recognized he had not been able to develop the healthy sort of relationships essential for continued growth in recovery. Fearful of becoming too involved with others, he could not experience the joy of meaningful, fulfilling relationships. I asked him, "Have you ever done the 8 & 9 Steps?” His answer of "No” made perfect sense. Like many newly recovering people, he still carried a load of guilt and remorse from unresolved past relationships. Thus, he could not move forward with confidence to make new intimate relationships. He needed to clean up the residue of his past first.

Prayer: No Greater Gift, No Greater Service

Philippians 4:6 NRSV
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

I have a wonderful adopted aunt. (My parents were both only children, so I didn’t have any aunts or uncles by blood). She has now gone Home, but while on earth, she was a girlie-girl if ever there was one. I can’t ever remember her wearing pants . . . ever! She was always in a dress, with heels (at least small ones), her hair done up in curls, beautiful jewelry. She was a minister of God, speaking and writing music, traveling all over the world telling others about God. Today, I read something she wrote and saw these words:

"I find myself praying, 'Oh, God, let me be there when someone needs me!'"

I almost laughed. My wonderful aunt was marvelous at speaking and at music, but she was totally inept at cooking, cleaning, fixing, doing. Almost anything that required more than a piano or a pen. Who could she help? She couldn’t fix a meal, mend a dress, change a tire, even pick up a box to help someone move.

And then I read on. She wrote:

Counseling Concerns For Women

  1. A special strategy for people with drug and alcohol problems is essential
    Addicts have special needs that the "garden variety" sinner does not have. They can be identified by using a standard alcohol screening test during the intake process. Then we can help them to get into an active program of recovery using such activities as support groups, addiction therapy, educational activities, etc. Use community resources if the shelter's staff does not have expertise in this area. Addiction is a primary issue, so all other help giving will amount to nothing if the person cannot stay sober.

  2. The Issue of Toxic Shame
    By definition, "toxic shame" is an inner sense of being defective, faulty, unlovable, undeserving, unredeemable and hopeless. It is root problem for addicts, codependents and people from dysfunctional families. Most adults in family shelters fall into at least one of these categories. Toxic shame is the "glue" that holds the wall of denial together and prevents hurting people from accepting the help we offer them. They think - "If I admit I have problems, it proves that I am a worthless, useless human being." Addiction leads to a total deterioration of a person's moral life leading to a destructive mix of toxic shame and guilt. The Bible tells us that admitting our problems is not an admission of hopelessness or defectiveness. Instead, it is the key to forgiveness, freedom from our pasts and a new self-image.

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