Psychologists define codependency as an inordinate and unhealthy compulsion to rescue and take care of people, and when you allow another person’s problems to control how you think, feel, and act. This can occur with spouses, family members, and friends.
Enabling goes hand in hand with codependency. Enabling is defined as reacting to a person in such a way as to shield them from natural consequences of their behavior.
- Making excuses for the behavior
- Bailing them out of trouble (debt, court fees, DUI’s, providing jobs)
- Blaming others for their behaviors, such as parents, or employers.
- Protection from natural consequences.
- Taking care of the dependent person, as with money, housing, car, etc.
Can a Christian be codependent? Yes, God expects us to practice self-control, not to take on the responsibility of others and try to control them. Codependents always put each other first before they take of themselves. Sounds like “Christian teaching?” As Christians, we are taught to put others ahead of ourselves. But what happens when this becomes out of balance, and we are meeting the demands and expectations of everyone and stepping in to be the “Holy Spirit” in others’ lives? One result, is that God takes second place to people.
Codependents rely on each other for emotional and physical needs rather than taking care of themselves. They also lack faith and trust in God to provide for their needs, and become dependent on others taking care of them. As a result, manipulation occurs to get their needs meet. We can easily fall into the trap of rescuing the “needy,” but we need to take every need and concern to Christ first. What if God is trying to do something in that person’s life that you are trying to rescue, and you get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s work in their life? Not every need that comes our way is ours to tackle.
Some traits that you may be acting in codependent ways:
- Fear people more than God; You are a people pleaser.
- Do not want to disappoint anyone, and you feel guilty when you do or you are not able to help.
- Have trouble making your own choices.
- Lack boundaries and have difficulty saying, “No.”
- Over responsible for others.
- Worry about how others may respond to your feelings and opinions.
- Are afraid of being hurt and rejected by others.
- Are very sensitive to how others feel, and can even feel the way they do.
- Judge everything you say or do as, “not good enough.”
- Are extremely loyal, but to a fault; remaining in unhealthy situations too long.
- Do not perceive yourself as valuable or worthy.
Solutions to Christian codependency:
- Self-worth comes from Jesus Christ, and not the work or service that is performed.
- Learn to set healthy boundaries and limits, and not allow others to compromise those boundaries.
- Learn balanced living by taking care of yourself, and allowing others to be in charge of their own lives.
- Intervene in the lives of others after praying first, and being directed by God, not by others manipulation or by your feelings and emotions.
- Let others take responsibility for their own lives. Do not react to others pressure, perceived needs, or out of guilt and fear.
Additional resources on Christian Codependency can be found at: www.christiancodependence.com