Depend vs Sustain

I’m an independent girl. I pride myself on that fact. I have been on my own since I was 18. I put myself through under grad and grad school. I live on my own. I am She-ra hear me roar.

I struggle depending on or needing anyone. I don’t like it. I don’t want to. First of all it means vulnerability. That means risk of being disappointed or being left alone. So I often opt to figure it out myself.

Over the past five years God has been working on me in this area. I have learned the value of community. Through the patient love of several important people, who have shown me that it’s ok to trust, I have learned to let my guard down, sometimes. However, these are human examples, which are innately flawed. They’re supposed to be because we’re all a work in progress. But in the end I still remain somewhat detached.

God keeps whittling away at my walls. So far in 2006 I have been faced with situation after situation that is challenging this notion of dependence for me. There have been lots of changes, emotions, and uncertainty. As a result, I’m generally freaking out because I’m trying to control and figure it out. But I can’t. In my limited human understanding I don’t have enough of the pieces to put the whole picture together. I just have to trust God. How? I can’t. I don’t want to.

I was in the middle of a freak out today. I spent most of the day in a prayerful state trying to calm my heart and find some peace. I raged against God. I yelled. I cried. I wondered why I felt so alone. Then I heard a question: Who are you depending on?

I realized I was still depending on myself and other humans. In my head I know that I need to be dependent on God alone. In my head that makes sense – you know, the all powerful and all knowing vs limited human understanding and perspective. In my heart it petrifies me. My future is only known by him. Only he knows what lies ahead of me and right now my choice is to trust or go crazy. The choice feels literally that drastic.

Confused and overwhelmed by all the emotions and sudden surge of vulnerability I turned inward and went analytical. I could research my way out of this. I will find a bible verse that will make it all better.

So I went to my trusty biblical dictionaries, concordance and topical indexes to look up the concept of dependence in the Bible. I was surprised to see that there are relatively few verses on dependence or being dependent. (Fave: Ps 62:7). Then I looked at rely, reliance on God, a couple more verses but not what I would expect. I thought dependence and reliance would be a big thing for Christians that God would generally have a lot to say about it.

And then it hit me reliance and dependence are about free will. They require action from me first. I have to make a move in God’s direction. I make the decision to depend on him. I have to want to first. We all know that he doesn’t force himself on us. He doesn’t make us rest in him we can continue to struggle on our own and try and figure it out for ourself.

To say "trust in God" feels like a cliche, but it has to be a deliberate, conscious act. As I sat and pondered the weight of this action, I got overwhelmed by the notion of abandoning control. I went inward again and my mind immediately went to the psychobabble thinking about how this issue of trust and dependence depends on childhood experience of being taken care of, attachment, etc but then I realize that slipping into that mode is my cliche. I need to get back to the emotion and I need to decide if I will or if I won’t. It’s a simple act that I might need to make 14 thousands times a day for a while.

As I continued to battle and rage with this notion of dependence it hit me that is just the first part of the whole concept. It felt like a huge giant effort. The real essence of dependence is found in God as I let go and he sustains me. This is the part of the equation where I can do nothing for myself. It means that I am wholly and completely out of control and held in the balance by God. I got a picture of being held above the situation, problem and completely supported by nothing that I could provide for myself. So really my part was very small.

My topical study wasn’t in vain. Psalm 89:21 God says: My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him.

That is where I want to be, sustained by God. It doesn’t mean the problem goes away. It doesn’t mean clarity comes in an instant it just means that as I wait I am not alone. It means that it is not my power. How easy it is to forget that.

My prayer is now – Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. (Psalm 119:116) This has to be a daily decision.


Posted on March 11, 2006, in Spiritual Formation. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. *gasp*

    This resonates so acutely. Thank you for your willingness to share this.

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