For the family members and friends of addicted persons, becoming a partner in their addictive dependence, or codependent, is most always a reality. At the beginning, good intentions are what drive the codependent to act the way they do. Someone has to do something! If I don't rescue them, watch their every move, and clean up their messes, they'll self-destruct! However, a well-intentioned heart never guarantees right and godly responses. The deep, deep pit of destruction that comes from the over involvement of the codependent is not godly.
How can this be? How can good intentions be ungodly? God loves us... and I love my loved one. How can this be so wrong? Because Jesus Christ came to us in human flesh, and interacted with people; because He was tempted as we were and yet never sinned; because He is holy and pure and full of grace and truth, all we have to do is stare intently, and observe, the behavior and words of Jesus to see just how different He is from us in dealing with broken people. Here are two examples of godly responses Jesus gives that contradict our over-involved, codependent actions.
1. Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem
41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.” (Luke 19:41-44, NLT)
Jesus draws a clear boundary between what He has come to give to Israel, and their unwillingness to receive it. Codependents become relentless and manipulative in their need to force the addict to respond in better ways, but Jesus leaves us to the results of our choices. Jesus explains his heart's desire through tears and weeping, yet pronounces their unwillingness to recognize what opportunity there was right before them.
2. The Rich Man
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus encounters a man with great wealth. The man wants to know what must be done to have eternal life. Jesus speaks plain truth to the man by revealing both the commandments and the real issue which was his idolatry to his money. Jesus, feeling genuine love for the man, tells him the truth and then leaves the decision to him. The man walks away sad. Does Jesus follow him and try to bargain for a different response? Does Jesus get over involved in his life and attempt to manage his money for him?
The Truth of Codependence: It adds to the problem.
The Way out of Codependence: Be like Jesus in our interactions with our loved ones.
The Real Struggle: Things will get uncomfortable.
The Truth of Being Like Jesus: People will walk away from us, and we will weep over them.
There is help and hope for those struggling with codependency. If you are one of those people and want help, call Addiction Response Ministry. There are weekly meetings to help you.
May you find your way to a more godly relationship with your loved one.