The feeling of defeat is not defeat itself.
I suppose I should start off by saying that “dependence” is not a static place that can be arrived at like a home, or school, or a job. “Reaching” dependence is more like running up to those moving walkways at the airport. It’s a place where you’re intentionally placing the progress of your life onto a force outside of yourself.
My journey to dependence could easily be titled “The journey to God” or “The journey to Jesus.”
But aren’t you a Christian?
Imagine my surprise one day when I had a revelation of my own extreme self reliance. I’ve grown up in church. I’ve been memorizing Scripture since I was a child. Plenty of personal encounters with God. Witnessed so many amazing things. Heard about so many more. My mother is one of the greatest Christians this planet will ever have the pleasure of hosting. I’ve always been ahead of the curve. Always. My siblings are talented. My dad has an incredible story made possible only by God. As far as Christianity/God are concerned? I come from royalty.
And that breakdown of pedigree is exactly what’s been getting in my way.
It places the weight of what I am, what I can be, entirely on me and my efforts. The things in life that relationship with God automatically handles, I took on as my own. God’s desire to be an active presence in my life is severely severed, because I’m taking that on too. It makes shortcomings feel like ultimate failures, and makes the best moments feel little better than a spritz of lukewarm water on a scorching summer day.
And so began my decline.
So sharp, and so quick, that I didn’t immediately recognize the top of the fall from the bottom where I landed. Why? Because, feelings. Feelings. When you’re trapped in the shadow of being your own God, everything feels like defeat because of your inherent imperfections. Why? Because I knew what a thing was supposed to be and, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t cause it to become such. I was idolizing faulty mentors, and blaming others for me buying into their hypocrisy (which created hypocrisy in my own life). I was sleeping in my car. My car. Off and on for about a year and a half back in 2011. That was my normal. The job thing was a disaster, so most meals were skittles and oranges.
Faithfully in church though. Faithfully availing myself to those in ministry around me, whether my own church or former one.
Completely confused about why my life wouldn’t fix itself.
Lost as to why self reliance and trifling behavior seemed to work for key people around me, but not for me.
“When people show you who they are… believe them.” Know they can be greater, but believe who they are presently.
My homelessness ended at the end of 2012, when a close friend at the time took me in. He believed in me. He and another friend told me don’t ever sleep in my car again. I’ve only slept in it about 2 or 3 times since. That was a good upswing. I was rising slowly. I’d ended a destructive relationship. Hit the streets in my city of Pasadena and hustled up two jobs. And now I had a [long term] home. Things were looking up.
But the thing I realize now, that I’d failed to realize then, was that homelessness – in my case- wasn’t a physical ailment.
It was a mental one.
Have you ever read the story of King Solomon in the Bible? The wisest guy in history who ultimately failed because he married foreign women and his heart was pulled away from God… The most interesting part of that story to me has always been the fact that he didn’t notice it. Like- this is THE smartest, most wisest guy ever. From philosophy to science to kingdom rule, he did it all. How could he not know or calculate what his behavior would cost him? And I think it’s because of this one fascinating question…
What do you do when your gifts operate in spite of your trespasses?
That was Solomon’s problem. That was my problem. A lot of people lose the ability to do what they do when they start heading down a wrong path, which then shoots up a red flag that says WRONG WAY! WRONG WAY! But what about when you have no such alarm system? How are you supposed to function when dependence on God is the only way to have a full life? Do you have any idea how frustrating that sounds? When you’re smart, talented, and have a family of people who are the same way? When your friends are also highly skilled and seem to be experiencing successes that you know you’re also capable of? And the only conclusion is- DEPEND ON GOD. Miss me with that.
God won’t shout things at you that you’re already presently aware of, but simply ignoring.
Bit of a time hop here.
Jobs. End of homelessness. Better job. Coming into my own. Trusting God more, but still trying to prove that I can handle myself if He doesn’t come through. Apartment. Girlfriend. Things still getting better. Fiance. Some job issues, but still finding work. Marriage. Honeymoon.
It all came back.
Remember when I said that, for me, homelessness wasn’t necessarily a physical ailment, but a mental one? Well that ailment had followed me into my marriage and dependence on God was still the only remedy. Another poor perspective. Dependence on God is so much more than that, even if I hadn’t realized it yet.
Nevertheless, God was holding me accountable. I knew complete dependence on Him should be my focus, but I was resisting. And He wasn’t shouting or forcing my hand. For lack of a more efficient phrase… He was just letting things play out. You see, this is what happens when God has a better understanding of you than you have of yourself (which is always). He knew that deep down I wanted to let go and depend on Him. I was just scared to. And since that’s what He also wanted to begin with, that meant that our wills were aligned. And He wasn’t backing down.
Just take it as it comes. Don’t let it change you as it goes.
Situations, artistic aspirations, job frustrations, weird people, questionable friends, devastating moments…
Take it as it comes.
Don’t let it change you as it goes.
This is the crux of what dependence on God truly is about. He is The Everything. When you are focused upon The Everything, The Everything influences and impacts everything you do. I can navigate life and let God change [evolve, mature] me through everything I deal with, rather than being changed by the shifts of life itself. Life will screw me up and break me down. God will make me more like Him.
One of the most incredible, dynamic, radical pastors I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing up close is Pastor Darryl Ordell of Hallel Chapel. He’s one of those rare people with a grasp on the center realities of life of which dependence on God is the foremost.
And with his help, I’ve finally made it to the walkway.
When it becomes real.
Christianity isn’t something you do in PLACE of living; it’s something you do beCAUSE you’re alive. Christianity makes a man (or woman) a progressively better version of what he or she is already, because Christ is within.
The journey to dependence is ongoing.
So, even though I’ve finally arrived…
There’s still plenty of road to travel.
And that’s okay… that’s actually a good thing. 🙂