Who doesn’t want to be Miss Independent? Many of us attribute ourselves with being self-sustaining. It encompasses an aversion to failure, complete control, self-reliance and ‘freedom’. Everywhere we look, this idea is reinforced. I wonder though, if Miss Independent may be missing something big. As Christian women living to bring glory to God in all that we do, can this idea stand simultaneously with a total dependence on God?
For me, it proved difficult. Last year, the Holy Spirit saw it fit to begin the process of ridding me of some of the ways that I viewed myself and life in general. It wasn’t fun. Independence was definitely one of the ideas He brought to the forefront. He used one of the many blogs that I often read to do so. I’ve never really been a fan of describing myself as an independent woman, it’s just not my thing. However as the writer outlined how independence has manifested in her life, I couldn’t help but think “Wow, whether I say it or not, that’s exactly me!”
So I’m going to do my best to paraphrase some of the areas that independence shows up as it relates to me and you can prayerfully consider how it’s been manifested in your life as well.
Trusting God- Being independent and self-reliant creates this dynamic where I want to constantly “help” God. Like, “Lord I know you are doing all these things behind the scenes but I can’t see them, so maybe I should step in and nudge it along.” After all I know myself well and I know what works for me. But how can I say I trust God fully if I don’t completely see that His ways and thoughts are far higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9)? Even if things don’t look like how I want them to in the moment, I’m shown daily that He does not need my help. The only thing He asks is that I relinquish all control to him. This involves a deliberate decision every day to subject my thoughts, dreams, ideas, emotions and body to the Holy Spirit. That’s hard. But He has asked for our total obedience, He will handle the outcome.
Submitting to Authority- Inherent in the idea of being an independent woman, is the “I’m the boss of me” mentality. As much as I don’t want to admit it, if I’ve made up my mind about something and another person’s suggestion doesn’t align with what I’ve already decided, I will stubbornly hold on to my idea. I realize that this is steeped in pride and the Holy Spirit always intervenes and reminds me of 1 Peter 5:5-6. Thinking this way short changed me from experiencing relationships the way God intends because this thought process focuses solely on self. So now, I catch myself a lot quicker when I have these stubborn moments because the Holy Spirit will just not let me be otherwise.
Being Offended Easily- A while back, I read John Bevere’s book, “Bait of Satan” and it talks about how offense is a tool the devil often uses to derail Christians (and oh my, if you haven’t read that book please check it out). So when I saw this idea of how independence makes it easy to fall into offense, it resonated with me. Think about it; self is the center of independence, therefore if I’m fixated on self, I think that my perception and interpretations are always right. I might assume that the other person is wrong and has intended ill will towards me, when that might not even necessarily be the case. But regardless of the intention, hasn’t the Bible instructed me in Proverbs 19:11 that it is in our honor and glory to overlook an offense? This has been my biggest revelation and I’m constantly asking God to make me a woman who does not harbor resentment because Lord knows I need the help of the Holy Spirit with this one. Now this does not mean that I will not get offended, (trust me I find ample opportunities from when I leave my house to when I get to my job in Manhattan). However it’s a call to not stay so focused on the superiority of self to the point of staying offended, but instead trusting that 1) we may not have all the pieces of the story 2) Jesus is the best defense attorney.
This is just a snapshot of how independence manifests itself. It’s by no means an exhaustive list. I just pray that we test all things and always align ourselves to how God has designed us as women to be, instead of wearing these labels that the world has come up with.
Kelechi Ibelegbu is a participant of the second Rise cohort.