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the idol self-sufficiency


"O God of mine, I'll have no idols..." played over Pandora. "O God of Mine", an old song by Rita Springer, is a beautiful hymn-like melody with soothing vocals and peaceful piano music. deep in thought, as i always am, i was struggling with feelings of fear and shame that had been pulling me under the last few months. i'm determined to be free from its grip, so i'm digging in to find the roots and i'm arming myself with Truth and with practical tools. as that phrase sang form the speakers, it just flickered across my mind -- the idol of self sufficiency. i had never named it before, but i finally understood it as a huge aspect of my struggle with fear and a huge aspect of the burden of shame that i carry. (i wrote a little bit about that here)

now you're thinking i must be a planner, a doer, and get-things-done kind of gal. you're thinking i must run a pretty tight ship, i must be type-A.

and you'd be wrong. self-sufficiency is a idol for me not because i am self-sufficient. but because i want to be. because somewhere along the way, i started to believe a lie that i need to be.

my house is rarely clean all at the same time. the laundry is my nemesis, but a quick glance into the kitchen will tell you the dishes are even worse. i never get everything crossed off my to-do list, i'm always late, i'm terrible at returning email in a timely manner and i hate talking on the phone. my life would be marked at "absolute mess" on the self-sufficiency spectrum (if that spectrum indeed existed).

my issue is that i make self-sufficiency the ideal to aspire to, the goal to reach, but every single hour when i fail miserably again, i wallow shame and wonder why i can't get it together.

God made me to be a thinker, dreamer, creator, relater. i don't excel in the planning, executing, get-things-done areas because they are not my strengths and they are not the traits that God gave to me. but i still strive for them as if He did. i still feel like a failure at the end of most days because i have operated out of trying to fix my weaknesses, trying to fumble around them and make them into my strengths. in that striving, i've neglected the strengths i do possess. i've not related with anyone but the four people who need me all day. even further, i've not taken time to chat with my kids and dream with them. the only relating we do is me barking orders at them to get their shoes and eat their food and get in the car. and the only thinking i do is about how worthless i am.

i've focused on my weaknesses and made an idol out of self-sufficiency. i want to be a good at being a house-keeper, but maybe i'm better as a home-maker. i want to be good at dishes and ironing and laundry and to-do lists, but maybe i'm better at encouraging, listening, advice-giving, and heart-tending.

i know this doesn't excuse me from doing chores. but i believe it does excuse me from striving for perfection and from believing the voice of shame that shouts lies at me all day long. my self-sufficiency, or lack there-of, does not define me. He defines me. and He decided, before the foundations of the earth, that i would be a heart person. that i would relate and understand with empathy and deep concern, and that i would be able to work through problems and help people find strength and that i would be a loyal and trusted confidant.

as i let go of the lies, i see the idol of self-sufficiency crumbling to pieces. and i see a woman, fearfully and wonderfully made, standing firmly in the love of Christ, living out her days as the dear one He dreamed she would be before the foundations of the earth.

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