I’m not much of a gardener, but I try to keep things looking nice. I also live in a rent house and try to be careful with how much money I invest into a property that isn’t mine (I try…). With funding and time, the back yard of our house looks about halfway disastrous and halfway cute year round. There’s always something to work on, which is nice for one who finds working in the dirt to be therapeutic.
While working on this one section called, “the island” (see picture below), I very, very often run into these horrendous plants that are rumored to produce dewberries. I haven’t seen any berries yet.
As nice as dewberries may sound, their little plant bodies are fiendish. From the surface of the soil, up their stem, and stretching out to their full leaves are thorns. Sharp, sticky thorns. Say your prayers if you ever get stuck in the middle of a dewberry patch.
This past weekend, I battled these plants and got every single one of them (hopefully) off of the island. Why? So we can walk without fear to our lovely swing, look at the flowers, and get to gardening. To do all that, the weeds must go.
And how, you may ask, does one pull up the dewberry plants covered in thorns from stem base to leaves? By the roots!
When I spot one of these plants, I dig around the base of the stem, go underground, and pull the plant up in entirety by the roots. There are no thorns down there!
How does this relate to codependency? Codependency is unknowingly living a life of comfortable misery. We don’t know we’re miserable because we’ve been living the same pattern most of our lives. Our ego does not want us to realize there are things we don’t like about ourselves, so it protects us by giving us coping mechanisms so we don’t commit suicide (because if we discovered we disliked ourselves, our first instinct would be to self-destruct). Therefore, we function in life doing the best we know how and we don’t realize we’re wearing thorns that hurt us and people around us.
Coping mechanisms in and of themselves are not bad. It’s good to have strategies for dealing with life. The problem starts when our coping mechanisms are formed in an unhealthy manner and steer us away from God instead of to Him. When we seek after God, He takes us through a gentle healing process. We can process life with Him and have more good days than bad days. We bring our stuff into His light and receive relief. He takes our burdens and He transforms us to be more like Him.
When we revert to our unhealthy coping mechanisms, we take on life’s burdens. We shove them inward and carry the weight of our issues and other’s issues everywhere we go. Anxiety, shame, stress, fear, and perfectionism hang on us like dead weight. It’s exhausting and darkness haunts us. And the sad truth is that we begin to subconsciously develop symptoms of a disease called, self-hatred. The disease grows as life continues. Our ego hides the truth of our disease, therefore, causing us to live in a fantasy and miss out on reality. Our ego means well!
That’s why I believe it’s important to have surprising pain. Something that shakes us out of our normal, familiar misery.
Surprise leads to curiosity. Ouch! What did that?!
Curiosity leads to discovery. Discovery leads to healing.
When your feelings steer towards chaotic, when life around you shoots out of control, when you begin to inch dangerously beyond your capacity… cheer up! God is about to do a work in you. He drives us to the point of breaking because that is where we stop and realize, yet again, that we are not well and we need God.
Once we can see the thorns we’re wearing, we can begin to deal with the root issues. Our coping mechanisms can change and we can develop healthy habits. It does take vulnerability and it is necessary to dig down into the dirt where there are no thorns. This is a scary undertaking but it must be done to live a healthy life. Under the surface is where we find the life of our dysfunction. God will take us underground in His timing and with His gentleness.
The best part about this whole process is experiencing the active and stable presence of God.
Under God, we are this: