What do people do when it seems as though God is not acting according to their expectations? When people think God is not acting according to the “contract,” they often take spiritual matters into their own hands. If God is not acting the way he’s supposed to, it’s time to trade him in for a different model, even if they have to make that different model themselves. This trading in God for something else has a religious name — idolatry.
Idolatry is not only taking something bad and trying to make it something good. Idolatry is also taking a good thing and turning it into an ultimate thing. Turning away from God and to a relationship as a way to save yourself is spiritually dangerous. This type of idolatry is present in dependent relationships. There is a sense of panic dependent people can feel at even the thought of change to a relationship.
An idolater takes something unable to save them, like a piece of wood or stone, and fashions it into the essence of personal salvation. A dependent person takes something unable to save them, like a human relationship, and fashions it into the essence of personal salvation. An idolater etches into the stone or wood what they desperately want. A dependent person etches into the other person what they desperately want. Neither finds what they’re looking for because both are looking in the wrong place.
There is nothing inherently wrong in wanting loving, caring relationships, as long as those relationships don’t become a substitute for God. If you struggle with dependency, looking to others to provide approval, validation, assurance, relief, and significance can become a painful, addictive cycle. But it need not be. All of these — validation, assurance, relief, significance, and so much more — are gifts from God.
When other people are expected to provide these gifts, those people have a way of coming up short. When those people come up short, dependent people believe they must put up with irresponsible and event abusive behaviors out of love. Christians may even believe they must overlook those irresponsible or abusive behaviors, thinking doing so is the right spiritual thing to do.
There are reasons why you might enter into or continue in a dependent relationship. You may feel safest in a clearly defined role. For example, you may feel safe in a role of provider or even in the role of victim. Victims, after all, have a right to demand justice, attention, and guarantees. These can be the very things you want and need from others. The suffering you endure in the relationship may even give you a sense of self-righteousness or superiority. This victim perspective may feel right to you, may give you a sense of power and control. But this victim perspective blocks healing, growth, forgiveness, and an opportunity for genuine reconciliation in relationships.
If you are struggling with relationship dependency or abuse, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.