While typically thought of as the significant other of an alcoholic, modern codependence has a much broader definition. That’s because it appears where false love systems have been formed. In Christianity, a works based mindset can be condoned and applauded, making codependence much harder to identify. That’s because traditional church culture has taught us to serve, to give and to look after the needs of others more than ourselves. While there is merit to that, in the world of codependence, those beliefs can only escalate the underlining problem. Seriously negative and even abusive situations can become normalized and even encouraged as “good and Christ-like.”
Codependence is a set of maladaptive coping mechanisms used to deal with an imbalanced relationship. It is a method to deal with the missing needs in a relationship mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually. A person who struggles with codependence typically believes that through doing good things and overly loving a person with problems, they can somehow make things right. But over time, this cycle is straining, especially when behaviors like addiction or abuse are present.
Deciphering the presence of codependence and finding its roots is the journey of healing. But healing isn’t something that can be taught in the head. It needs to be experienced in the heart. In reality, the cycle of codependence is formed around a fractured sense of identity, belonging and love. It allows other people to hold enormous power over the codependent’s thoughts, emotions and decisions. The strategy of compensation – of making up for what’s missing – becomes the general relationship skill in life.
Most people seek help because relationship cycles have left them drained and exhausted. No one willingly signs up for the label “codependent.” But when they can’t figure out the “why” behind the emptiness, frustration and pain, learning its existence comes as a relief. That’s because as deceitful as its presence may be, once you begin to learn its roots, how it formed, the nature of its sabotaging effect and the “real you” underneath, healing can come.
Healing isn’t just possible, it is guaranteed to the child of God who is willing to invest into the resource of honesty, courage and God’s power. This investment isn’t hard work, it’s surrender.
The basic principles covered in two books (and workshops) include:
Recovery is a journey of facing truth and finding grace. It’s a radical and powerful adventure into God’s heart. And it leads to new beginnings and to the promise of a life God design.