I love the part in The Fox and the Hound movie when the fox says that he is independent, and the young dog says that he is too. And then they decide that they will be independent together. This is the basis for a really healthy friendship, and I believe it is what we long for in our relationships with others.
We have a strong and healthy desire to be completely ourselves, to decide and discover who we are, and what we will choose to do. Independence is defined as “freedom from outside control or support.” We want to live in freedom, while at the same time being able to feel closely connected to someone else; to love, understand and unite with them, and not lose our sense of self.
It is really interesting to me to observe the coupling of connection and independence in young children. Babies depend on their parents for almost everything. This dependence create a tight bond. As children grow and begin to walk, get things for themselves, and discover who they are, they make choices and are quick to express themselves with powerful words like “No”, “I want”, and “mine!” This shift in the parent and child relationship happens in just two short years. It can be hard, and sometimes frustrating, but it’s really very useful. As growing children we can learn that it is safe to be loved and to need others but at the same time adventure away from them to discover life for ourselves. It is a clear physical picture of dependence transforming into independence.
It is respectful to let children grow up, become themselves, and live their own life. I imagine that parents need to let go, while also staying connected in unconditionally loving and supportive ways. This doesn’t mean you agree with everything, or stop sharing your thoughts and perspective, but you let go of being their leader, and trust them. And you do some good praying.
We have left our parents and begun a new adventure where we are the adults. Good job. So how dependent are we allowed to be now? Who are we allowed to run to when we get hurt, or call when we are lost? Are we meant to become so fiercely independent that we don’t need anyone anymore? That would be very isolating and disconnecting. I believe that we are meant to move away from leaning on our parents and other people and turn to the Lord, becoming dependent on Him and going to Him for support.
There are so many truths from the Lords Word that help me live a happier life. This quote reminds me to put my trust in the Lord alone. “My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth” (Psalms 121:2). When I go to the Lord first I can create a connection with Him that is more solid than anything I could have with another human being. When I grow this solid connection with Him, I can then move into healthier relationships with others.
Putting the Lord first and leaning on Him can be as simple as pausing, and breathing, when I am in need. In that space I can whisper, “Lord I need help. Thank you for always being with me.” This simple act can give way to finding help from others that is mature and positive. It helps me begin to relax my panicking heart, and stops me from projecting my worry and neediness onto others. I am depending on the Lord, not on the person, and so they do not need to take on any of my trouble.
It is really useful and positive to belong to a group of people who support each other and share respect. It nurtures our spirit so much when we talk to someone who really understands. It is excellent to help others and be helped. When we reach out to friends, family and even our parents in an non-anxious hopeful way, it is clear that we are not using or forcing them. The Lord is always reminding us to put our trust in Him, not in the world or in others, this is because He know it will make us really happy.
Another relationship that I want to share about is the marriage between men and women. I believe there can be a healthy interdependence in marriage unlike any other relationship. Marriage has a unique way of letting two people dance so very close together. So much so, that they are like one. And because of this closeness the rhythm of the relationship is tested daily. Each partner needs to understand that the more they are individually in step with the Lord, who is in them and helping them choose the motions that align with His will, the more beautiful the dance becomes. The marriage relationship can be an amazing medium for which the Lord can bring usefulness and blessings into this world, and our life.
Growing up, I always loved the idea of being married, and a part of me was very idealistic. When I became a young adult and fell in love, I had a limited understanding of what made up a healthy relationship, but I knew I wanted one. I had a lot of hopes and expectations. In the early years of marriage. I believed that my new husband Jason and I could depend on each other, and that we were beginning to share one soul, one life, and one way. I had learned some of the Truths from the Writings that speak about marriage; ideas that are important and powerful, but I just didn’t know how to live them yet.
I didn’t understand that what was going to bring me closer with my husband, myself, and all the wonderful things I dreamed and wanted for my marriage, was working with the Lord, and following His commandments. Plain and simple. Only recently did begin to realize that this is something no one else can do for me. I can not depend on another person, not even the one person I wanted to share my whole life with. I had to work independently with the Lord.
Regeneration is deep and difficult spiritual work, but it has the best rewards. It is the personal continual practice of repentance, where natural surface habits need to be changed, and then the Lord makes deep shifts within us. It takes praying, and surrendering, and admitting things we did that were unkind, and selfish. It was not as dreamy and lovely as I had thought.
My marriage was growing inside me, and it’s richness depended on this work, not on my husband, or our love. Discovering this in a new way was actually a relief for me, because I had thought that when Jason died my marriage had gone with him. Part of me had understood that spiritual growth was intertwined and dependent on the other person. But If my love, happiness, and spiritual growth depended on him, and depended on us doing life together as one, I was stuck. I felt lost.
This past summer when my brother in law and new sister in law were married, a realization woke up inside me. I watched them come together in marriage as two complete individuals who had strong relationships with the Lord, and it was so healthy. I learned more clearly that my spiritual life does not depend on anyone but me and the Lord. I felt like I was handed my love for marriage back, and I was freed from my misunderstanding about marriage. I also noticed that I felt afraid. I was afraid because I could no longer lean on hopelessness anymore. I had to start being accountable for all of my internal progress. I could not blame the laziness or inactivity of my soul on the loss of my husband. Beyond the fear I felt a revival.
I still believe that having a spouse to walk though life with can be a total bonus on our personal walk with the Lord. I love marriage and know that the Lord can bless them. But it is important to learn how to stop leaning on your spouse in a dependent way. Friendship in marriage can be a joy, and a gift. Two independent people being independent together.
If any of our relationships look and feels difficult, we can only work on ourselves, and we can make the connection better. It is hard because the baby toddler in us wants to blame the other person, and claim that we can’t make any progress if they are so slow, selfish, non-spiritual or disconnected. The independent wonderful part of us says, I can still live well, my happiness does not depend on you, I love you.
There are so many human connections, and the hope is that the Lord will be there in between each relationship, uniting and growing our understanding and love for one another.
This is my favorite quote from the writings. It speaks about the connected relationship that the Lord has with us, and it just amazes me. I draw new insight out of these truths every time I hear them.
“The more closely we are connected to the Lord, the more distinctly we appear to ourself to be our own person, and yet the more clearly we recognize that we are the Lord’s.” Divine Providence 42