Codependence Is Identity Dependence – Part 1
FIRST IN A SERIES OF POSTINGS ON THIS TOPIC, TAKEN FROM MY BOOK, ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION; GOD TURNS OUR BROKEN PIECES INTO MASTERPIECES
The term “codependence” is a word that people tend to hear fairly often yet may not fully understand its meaning. What is it? Where does it come from? Do I have it? We sometimes make IT seem like an incurable disease. Let me comfort your fears. Codependence is not a clinical condition or disorder or diagnosis. It is a learned pattern of thought and behavior that we subconsciously believe will protect us from the possibility of abandonment and rejection.
In essence, we have learned that our identity (who we are) is defined entirely by how others see us, what they teach us, what they say about us, and how they treat us. Another term for this is being “externally defined.” This makes it virtually impossible for our identity, worth, and acceptance to become any greater than the sum total of the external messages we’ve internalized.
New Wine Requires New Wineskins
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins”Mark 2:22 NLT
Who puts new wine into old wineskins? According to Jesus’ words in the passage above, no one should. While I’m certainly not an expert in the field of wine and wineskins, I can pretty easily understand why we shouldn’t put new wine into an old wineskin. Over time, the new wine expands but, unlike new wineskins, old wineskins don’t. And as a result, the new wine bursts the old wineskins, and both are lost.
Today’s twenty-first century generation is crying out for meaningful guidance in connecting the Christian faith model with their real-life struggles. Many authors purport that today’s society is more spiritually conscious than their predecessors, yet have difficulty trusting or accepting the belief systems of their forefathers. Unlike their predecessors who trusted the faith of their parents, present-day men and women tend to submit themselves only to systems they deem as trustable, pertinent, and beneficial.
What Would That Look Like?
I’ve yet to find a comprehensive book on the market today that: 1) offers decisive solutions for letting go of the past and finding enduring hope for the future, 2) is relevant and practical for members of today’s pluralistic society, and 3) remains true to a Christian, Biblical ideology. The thorough, comprehensive route provided by Addition By Subtraction very effectively addresses these three objectives.
I have immense professional respect for the diligent work of Melody Beattie, John Bradshaw, Stephanie Tucker, and countless others who have provided decades of groundbreaking work on the effects of toxic shame in our lives. Notwithstanding, I believe there is an urgent need to revitalize these concepts in order to maximize their effectiveness in today’s world.
A Common Thread
Notable author Melody Beattie presented her groundbreaking work on the topic of codependence nearly forty years ago in her bestselling book, Codependent No More. The principles and perspectives she explained have helped countless millions of men and women from all walks of life, including myself, discover freedom from the shame of our past. What I learned from Melody in the early years of my journey of soul work laid a solid foundation for who and where I am today.
Stephanie A. Tucker, in her publication entitled The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook, provides a succinct Christian viewpoint of recovery from codependence. The soul work and spiritual growth that her book led me through has played an instrumental part in my personal recovery journey. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to teach her material on multiple occasions, and each time, I have observed amazing life-change in those who participated.
Melody Beattie’s writings and teachings seem to tend toward a non-religious perspective, leaving the God question for each reader to clarify for themselves. The benefit of this, obviously, is that it allows great latitude for men and women of diverse faith traditions and belief systems to find the help they are searching for. Stephanie Tucker’s perspectives seem to discuss soul health from a Biblical, Christ-centered viewpoint. Although I have enormous respect for both authors and both viewpoints, I personally align myself with the strongly Christ-centered belief. As a result, this is the sentiment that flows through this entire book.
This difference makes little to no difference in a fundamental understanding of brokenness, shame, and codependency. However, it makes all the difference in how we find hope for lasting, internal change. Beattie’s model seems to focus on self-help as its objective, whereas the Christian model focuses on self-denial in order to become more like Jesus. This seemingly “subtle” difference makes all the difference!
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