My last blog was about FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, which dealt with questions of fear and envy in the Garden of Eden and what that foretold for many of us in this fallen world. As I was writing, I was pointed to yet another side of that same dangerous situation that also doomed us to make poor choices over and over again; that other dark side is codependency. Codependency, as I am defining it in this context, is the sense of needing to forfeit our voice and our power to individuals who should never be given a position in our lives above God's. In a nut shell, I am talking about unhealthy relationships that, once they blossomed in the Garden, wrecked our foundational trust in our Heavenly Father as our "go to."
As I mentor women online, I see codependency exhibited daily in chat rooms. Moms in "crisis pregnancies" battle with the often seemingly appealing notion of allowing anyone other than God-- their boyfriend, Mother sister, best friend etc.-- to decide whether or not they should have their baby or choose abortion. I began to see this delegation of responsibility so often that I wondered what the biblical origin of it was; and that is when I received a little revelation.
Let me explain what the beginning of this unhealthy relationship looked like through a biblical lens: In Genesis chapter 2 verses 16 and 17, God told Adam directly that of all of the abundance in the garden planted for Adam's benefit, that one tree and one tree only was off limits; Eat of that tree and death was sure to follow. Adam was in charge of the garden, tended the garden and knew what tree God was talking about. He knew what the fruit looked like and why he was supposed to not ever know what it tasted like. He apparently gave Eve the same instructions he'd received to make sure she stayed safe. Both Adam and Eve were dependent upon God and that dependence was built upon a foundation of trust. Bottom line: Listen to God, trust God, stay safe and happy.
So, when did codependency begin in the Garden? Along came the serpent in Genesis chapter 3: 1-7 which tells of how the seducer talked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Eve then became codependent on the serpent as she handed the power of life and death over to the deceiver. That of course was disastrous enough all by its self but then when she offered Adam a taste and he took it without question, he forfeited God's power over his life to Eve and he became codependent on Eve. That my dear reader is about as elemental a biblical description of codependency as I can give. Bottom line: Listen to someone other than God about life and death decisions, find yourself in unsafe situations and lose your happiness.
Codependency is an extremely important concept to understand for those of us who work with women who are unexpectantly pregnant and afraid. According to the addiction treatment website, paxriverbend.com, codependency is a behavioral or emotional condition that affects a person's ability to achieve a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship with the other person. Ten signs that someone is codependent are: 1. Trouble articulating emotions and feelings. 2. The desire to please everyone. 3. The need to fix others. 4. Struggles with setting healthy boundaries. 5. Sacrificing your wants and needs to appease others. 6. Being loyal to a fault. 7. Ignoring and denying conflict. 8. Low-self esteem and self-worth. 9. Feeling responsible for the feelings and actions of others. 10. Refusing to seek help because the problem doesn't seem "that bad." Applying this codependent lens over the conversations and actions of the women we work helps to make it apparent that codependency is a pattern we have been repeating ever since the fall.
When we hand over life and death decisions about our children to mere humans (that includes ourselves) not worthy of the responsibility instead of going to God with our problems, we almost always end up in a situation we regret.
That is why it is so important to meet women where they are in their crises and ask God for discernment to know if you are truly seeing a codependent woman. For example, if her conversation is primarily about the mental state of the father of the baby, his reaction to and his feelings about the pregnancy and his unwillingness to support her then you may be seeing a codependent relationship. If Mom is overly concerned about the irrationally negative reaction of her parents or the fear of being shunned or cut off by friends and other family members who are manipulating her, then you can understand that she is most likely struggling with a codependency that is clouding her judgement. Her primary fear of being unsupported and alone is understandable. Yet, that fear has to be countered with the truth of God's love and support through others who will invariably be placed in her path. We can share instances in our own lives when we chose not to trust God and the disaster than came of that. And we must always share our testimony of when we did put our trust in Him and how He made a way out of no way. Time and again, I have been privileged to witness the pivot some women can make as they move from panic and codependence to accepting support from a loving community of other women who offer sound advice and coaching. I've also been there after a woman finally recognizes the negative effect codependency had on her abortion choice. But, sadly, by then it is too late. The abortion is done and now she is broken in multiple places as she loses not only her baby and her sense of self but often the father and other family and friends. We can earnestly pray for her to not ever be in the same situation again and to seek healing when the time is right. But helping her to recognize the signs of codependency and the roots behind it can, we pray, help prevent multiple abortions. This is some of the beautiful, God-lead work we get to do here at Arise Daughter.
I highly recommend ordering the book from the group, Support After Abortion titled; "Unraveled Roots." It is a gentle but direct excursion into the multiple childhood issues and sometimes generational causes of codependency among other topics. There are also other very well written and much more extensive dives into codependency that would be worth reading. Knowing that she is not alone--that even Adam and Eve were tripped up-- could open the door to a deeper understanding of why, in this fallen world, our ONLY hope is to put our trust in the Living God.
https://youtu.be/DFGDU3XZmms "Waymaker" by Sinach
Much love, Sylvia