A few years ago, I was involved in a rehabilitation program for drug addicts. The story of addiction is always about an external influence that must be blamed for the dysfunctionality. Parents who were too tough or too careless. Friends who influenced conduct. Spousal abuse. The list goes on.
I once ministered in a church where I had to counsel a lady who had lost her virginity to her father. According to her, he did the same to all his daughters even when they were minors, claiming that it was a family tradition. But he had not stopped at that. He had sexually violated them repeatedly afterwards. Consequently, she had become practically addicted to sex and hardly said no to any man’s offer to sleep with her because according to her, if her father could do it, why shouldn’t any man? When she came to the service where I preached, it was, according to her, to ask God for forgiveness in advance because she had it in mind to return home, kill her father and then commit suicide. On that day, I preached on the power of forgiveness and she was touched. She broke down crying and God’s grace purged her of her deep-seated anger towards her father. But she decided that neither her father nor any other man would ever take advantage of her again. Up until that time she had felt absolutely powerless to do anything to remedy her situation. She believed she was a victim of an imposed lifestyle arising from physical and emotional abuse by someone who was supposed to act as her compass in life’s journey.
The dependent takes more than he can or hopes to give. For this reason, he will readily pawn his assets to acquire a liability or to find a habit that perpetuates his dependency. This is the mindset that fuels substance abuse. The substance (drugs, food, sex, alcohol, etc.) abuser believes that he found himself in that predicament because of what someone – parent, friend, spouse, mentor etc. – did to him or refused to do for him.
The Bible tells the story of a man who, for 38 years had been paralyzed and placed not far from a pool called Bethesda. As the story goes, an angel periodically came to stir the waters. Thereafter, the first infirm person to get into the pool was instantly healed of any disease he had. It was therefore not unusual for people with various sicknesses to camp as close to the pool as possible to await the periodic angelic visitation. So, our man was not an exception. For 38 years, he did not get what he wanted. But he hoped that one day, something would happen. Or did he?
Let me explain. One day, Jesus came to the pool. He saw the man in his “helpless” state and decided to single him out for help. But first Jesus posed a question, “Do you want to be healed?” One would have thought that the answer should have been a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. But hear his response, “I HAVE NO MAN to put me in the water; but WHILE I AM COMING, another person steps in.” For a long time, I felt pity for the man and anger towards those in his family who practically dumped and abandoned him there when they knew he was lame. Until one day, reading the story again, my attention was drawn to the fact that he was simply locked up in the blame game characteristic of the dependency syndrome. Judging from his own words, the man had the capacity to move, even if minimally! If he was really serious, all he needed to do daily was cover a little distance and stop to rest. In a couple of days, he would have made it so close to the pool that he and the angel would have landed in the water at the same time! But each time he missed the opportunity, he would cover the same distance back to his bed that he had covered moving towards the angel! Then he would continue to resent the fact that his family had abandoned him and nobody cared about him, locking him in a cycle of hurts and bitterness that would never have allowed him to see possibilities in him and the need to take responsibility to do what he, at least, could do!
The dependency syndrome locks you up perpetually in the victim mode and the entitlement mindset. It makes you feel that you are totally powerless to change your situation and pushes the entire responsibility for doing so to someone else.
To the dependent, every misfortune must be blamed on some external force in the form of a person or circumstance. So, if there is going to be a way of escape, it must also be provided by another external source.
Dependency asks no questions. If it ever does, it is to evoke pity. It never interrogates its situation with a view to doing something to change it. It only does with a view to asking someone else to do something.
To the dependent, everyone around him is a debtor who owes him something – parents, friends, society, government, even God and nature. He engages in any venture or relationship solely for what he can get. Two words are absent from his lexicon, RESPONSIBILITY and CONTRIBUTION. Little wonder that he is constantly at the mercy of those who live by those two words. He desires change but is not willing to pay the price to get it. If he does any thinking at all, it is short-term and geared towards how much more he can get from someone else. Immediate gratification is the ultimate goal of the dependent, not creative solution-thinking. If you want to succeed, understand this; NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING!
Creativity is never the forte of the dependent. Why create anything if someone else is doing that and I can either beg for or buy from him?
The dependency syndrome sometimes manifests itself in many religious folk as a spirit of complacency that simply makes them pawns in a grand chess game played by divinity. The dependence of faith in God is however, a different ball game. It is akin to a waiter at a restaurant who waits on you for an order and immediately goes to work to execute it. You depend on God to inspire the idea, concept or product and then you put legs to it by working it out trusting that if you do your part, He will pay the bills.
This type of dependence is borne out of a desire for greater significance or meaning beyond the superficial. It is therefore not synonymous with idleness or an abdication of responsibility. It must birth PURPOSE and corresponding PASSION. Every activity arising from this type of dependence will birth productivity because it engages creativity, potential, passion and possibilities, critical ingredients for success in life.
God created raw materials. However, man’s application of divinely inspired creativity and responsibility adds value to them to enhance utility and relevance.
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!