In college, with the great privilege of parents who found a way to pay for my direct expenses – tuition, room, board, books – I was graced with the independence of daily decision making. Of staying out too late and barely making it to my 8am test. Of eating healthy or not eating at all. But I was still tied to my parents and their overall goals for me (grades, graduation, get-off-the-payroll) and could only stray so far because I was dependent on them and their generous resources. My independence was an illusion of sorts – only went so far before the dependence kicked back in. I was dependently independent.
Marriage for me was the diametric opposite. When I married Jere, I wasn’t dependent on him or my parents or anyone else. I had paid deposits and lived in a really nice place, making that rent payment every month (okay…so I forgot the renter’s insurance). I’d negotiated and bought a car and figured out how to invest in my stock option plan AND save in my 401K. I even had an auto transfer into a savings account that grew faster than I imagined. I decided when to go on vacation, and where – sometimes with friends, and sometimes on my own. I decided where to shop, what to eat, and what kind of books to read. So when we moved into marriage, I wasn’t dependent on him. I was deliciously independent – as was he.
Yup…we were two mid-20’s young professionals that had no need to ask for help from ANYONE, much less each other. Honestly, it was almost counter to our thinking – we both were smart, making money, had the same general goals (or so we assumed). We just kept on, making on our own decisions. Marriage and life progressed, and we did lots of things right – even well. Four outstanding kids that were dreamers and achievers. Successful businesses and loads of extracurriculars to keep us occupied and “happy.” Involved in our church life and community in meaningful ways. 27 years of marriage that looked all good and shiny on the outside…yet was disconnected, dissatisfying and lonely under the veneer. We had it all, yet had nothing, really.
You see we didn’t realize that our independence was both a good thing, and a trap. That independence can be bondage. We didn’t know that in our independence, we had the privilege of choosing dependence. We had the option to lay down our fierce determination of SELF and offer a place of refuge to our life partner. No…we did not have to. We didn’t need to for functioning. But we did need to if we were ever going to have the deep connectedness and spiritual satisfaction that our hearts crave. The intimacy and bonding that is really our highest calling as humans and the odd place in which we find freedom like never before.
This is the story of God. Of Jesus. We don’t have to receive Him. We can know Him, we can even potentially be with Him in eternity. Yet we can fail to receive all He has for us…here, now, on this earth and in this age. The surrender thing – the dependence thing.
Today…Jere and I are independent by experience, by hard work, by reality. And by choice, we’re completely dependent on each other through our surrender to Christ, and to each other. Fully, completely and utterly dependent because we want to be.
Today…we’re gloriously independently dependent.