A guest post by a single sister in Christ (who calls herself “Happy Wife”), I appreciate her willingness to share what she has been learning in a recent fiery trial of her own:
noun ˌin-də-ˈpen-dən(t)s : freedom from outside control or support : the state of being independent
I remember dancing to the soul/rap female group Salt N Pepa’s song “Independent” as a young girl. They were cool, defiant and “strong” females. I wanted to be them. The chorus of the song “Independent” is:
“Woman and I am independent
I make my own money so don’t tell me how to spend it
‘Cuz you need me and I don’t need you
So listen close boy, to my independent funk”
Destiny’s Child’s theme song for the movie Charlie’s Angels movie starts with the line: “Question: Tell me what you think about me, I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings.”
I danced and sung these lyrics repeatedly and subtly allowed them to take root in my spirit and heart. That’s the power of music! Being independent was one of my mostly highly prized attributes because it represented freedom, self-reliance, avoidance of failure, control and security. Surely those are all good things?!?
God has really been dealing with my independent spirit brick by brick this year as I’ve pulled closer to Him. FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT I am not saying God doesn’t love me or call me to be unique or myself! I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and he loves me as I am and is working on me to become my “real” self. But being “me “is very different from being “independent”.
Much to my shock I am learning that independence is not a fruit of the Spirit!!! In fact Galatians 5:19 lists “selfish ambition” as an act of the flesh. All my reference points in my journey to be “independent” were wrong – I was claiming words from songs and movies and people and bad experiences rather than finding my identity ONLY in the handbook of the God who created me. A spirit of independence (or self-sufficiency) is a sin.
See, everytime we accept a lie, we partner with Satan to assume a lifestyle, thought pattern, and identity that is not our godly inheritance. Jesus died to clear us from this heavy weight of sin. He says “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18) and delegates that authority to us when we come to Christ. So Satan has no authority over us unless we come into agreement with him. Satan says “put your hand up, you independent woman” and we head to the dance floor claiming it over our lives. We need to get better at learning who we are!
Here are some examples of how independence/self-sufficiency has manifested itself in my life and how I am learning to counter it:
- Being independent makes me less dependent on God. That is really the worst of all the manifestations and a huge barrier preventing me from stepping into the life God has for me. When I am independent I get to make my own decisions. But I am supposed to live my life totally dependent on God and in His presence and subject my spirit, will, thoughts, emotions, body to His Spirit! It is only by depending on Him that we truly experience any kind of freedom and joy.
Counter attack: Jesus says “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” – this is an excellent picture of dependency (John 15:5)
- Being independent makes it hard to trust God. Because I cannot see what He is doing and I am not sure if He will get it right, I panic and try to help Him out with my “helpful” suggestions because I am self-sufficient and I know what’s best for me. YIKES. This was such an ugly revelation to me. My fundamental error was failing to understand (deeply in my heart) that God is good. If He is good, then I can fully trust Him even if I cannot see!
Counter attack: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34). Amazing promise! Also “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)
- Being independent makes it hard to obey God. Rather than obeying God I would try to use my brain to justify my disobedience (i.e. “sorry God this verse doesn’t apply to me because I am special/important/don’t need it/already got it covered”). So I go around in circles or I go off -track only to return back to first base. Failing to obey only leads to delay of God’s promises.
Counter attack: “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10). We really need to learn to obey first and fast even if we don’t get it (especially when we don’t get it!!) Otherwise you will end up coming to where He needs you to be in a pile of vomit (i.e. the hard way). Like Jonah. Reality check!
- Being independent requires me to strive and work hard which leads to me to fatigue – physically, spiritually and emotionally. And being tired is a very easy way to slip into sin – being snappy, being impatient (huge!), squashing our joy, not showing love etc. We need to live from His overflow (not from our strength) which we obtain only when we are resting in Him.
Counter attack: “There remains then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:8).
- Being independent requires me to control all my fears! I really thought I was in control of everything but I realize now that I never actually controlled anything: I just had the illusion of control. Control helped me manage my fears independent of God but I kept dropping the ball. I cannot deal with my fears on my own – it is impossible.
Counter attack: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:4-5). I love that we become radiant!! Control only makes you look stiff faced, angry, and stressed!
- It is hard to love and be vulnerable if I am independent. I can never really give myself fully in the way that real love requires because my love is an intellectual expression (I need to justify that I am worthy to receive the love) and my plan B is always at the back of my mind (because independence is also about self-protection so I always need a plan B – this is conditional love!). That not only affects how I love others it affects how I love God! So although I may intellectually understand the height, depth, length and width of God’s love, if that does not sink from my head into my heart to totally “wreck” me so that I yield myself fully to God, it is of little use.
Counter attack: “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16) – he loved extravagantly first when we were unlovable. That’s the “wrecking ball” kind of love we are to imitate! Also “Love… is not self-seeking…” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
- Being independent makes it hard to receive spiritual gifts. I had a personal fear and misunderstanding about the gift of tongues which took a while to get over. But my last hurdle was my intellectual rationale – I didn’t understand and I “decided” I didn’t need it or that I had to “earn it”. It is only when I gave up my “right” to understand the why and how of this gift and stopped striving to earn it that I was able to receive it. Spiritual gifts are gifts – all we need to do is receive them in our spirits and in our hearts. But to do that we have to switch off the spirit of independence that tries to justify, rationalize, and intellectualize gifts.
Counter attack: “But God choose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God choose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27) and “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit [i.e. not by my intellect that is flesh]” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Tough truth!
- Independence makes it hard to submit because I am the boss of me and I think I know what’s best for me. So, although I hear another person’s plan/idea/request, I’ve already got my mind made up with my “better” plan. This is so ugly when you see it in practice. We are short changed if we really think throwing our hands up like independent women gives us the freedom and love that God promises in relationships (especially marriage). Independence undermines the framework for marriage by giving me a “veto right” that gives me power initially (which feels good) while slowly but surely eroding the very foundations of the relationship. Independence comes at the expense of peace and intimacy.
Counter attack: “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God… Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman” (1 Corinthians 11:3 and 11) – that’s the order of submission according to His word and God desires that we are dependent on each other too!
- Independence makes it difficult to mature spiritually. If I am secure in what I think I know and what I have achieved, it is difficult for me to accept that there is more to learn (which is stubborn and arrogant!). When we remain spiritually weak we limit the power and authority God has bestowed on us AND we cannot be used effectively to bless, heal, help, honor, love etc people God has put in our lives. That person is waiting for you to grow up! (No pressure lolol!). I’ve learnt to keep increasing my capacity and maintain a desperate hunger to grow in the things of God. To do that I had to drop my independence and take on humility.
Counter attack: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6) and “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10)
- Independence makes it easy to fall into the spirt of offence. In my independence I am really self-focused – my primarily default position is to protect me. It’s easy to become offended when I don’t know all the facts (because I take only my own thoughts/interpretations into account) or because I think of myself more highly than others (my protection at the expense of reconciliation). This is especially huge when we are “offended” by God – because we didn’t get something we prayed for or expected. An independent spirit can be offended enough to walk away from God!
Counter attack: “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble [i.e. cause offence]” Psalm 119:165 and “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways – declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8) and “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11)
We partner with a lie and we empower the liar when we accept to be independent as the world encourages. I pray that we will search God’s Word and be sensitive to His Spirit for our true identities as women, daughters, and princesses of the Most High God.