In the daily devotional As Bill Sees It, Bill W. writes, “If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, surrender these hobbling liabilities.”
I find this call to inner examination reveals much about me, particularly that my inner self-will often puts me in a state of dependence on my environment and a demand that people respond to my unspoken needs. It is a spiritual form of lust, insistent, irritable self-will.
The other day I walked into the gym and approached my usual workout apparatus. On the way from the parking lot, one small situation had not gone exactly my way, so I was already in unacknowledged emotional deficit. This is the spiritual blindness God is gradually healing in me. As I approached the last open machine, I noticed a woman wiping it down. I asked if she “was finished or just starting.” “Just starting,” she said. Mild sulking ensued.
I soon realized that the spiritual atmosphere I had created on the way from the parking lot was distorting my perspective and was producing a definite “demand” inside of me, a demand that the world and its people conform to my needs and desires. I was resorting to the old “solution,” trying to soothe my wounded self with positive outcomes. Suddenly I realized what was happening. I paused, assessed my inner landscape, took a deep breath and surrendered my circumstance to Jesus. Instantly, all was put back in order and I was free to continue undisturbed.
Does this seem trivial to you? Making a mountain out of a molehill? I once would have thought so, minimizer as I am by nature. But if I examine my own history, I would find it littered with acting out episodes that were triggered by similar dependency-demand episodes. The job I didn’t get. The broken or competitive relationship gone awry. The people who did not respond the way I wanted them to. The workaholic lifestyle that expected a return that never came.
I have learned by painful experience and self-examination to look at these even mildly disturbing incidents as opportunities to see what God is doing, how I am feeling and acting, and the possibility of changing course in the moment that is given to me. To be transparently honest with myself takes work but it avoids the inevitable emotional and spiritual hangover that will follow if I stuff the feelings down inside. I am learning to not dismiss these incidents but to see them as God’s way of showing me his utter sufficiency in every situation. When the Apostle Paul said he had learned “how to be brought low and how to abound,” (Phil. 4:12) he was learning to be free of ever changing circumstances and the demand they go his way as the source of his peace. He had learned to ” do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This is the connection that saves in the moment.
If we are willing to pause and look at our inner and outer worlds and make the connection with Him, He will do the same for us. He will show us how to be free of the the dependency-demand syndrome.
In the Lust- Bearer,
Jay Haug, Executive Director
Living Without Lust