Unhealthy people who are in survival mode will say and do anything to draw you in and keep you in their version of the world. With their fears, bottomless needs and chaotic lives, your fear will be triggered.
Your reaction will be to step in and rescue them.
This is co-dependence in nutshell.
We have no idea about why the spies told the lies they did to Moses and the people. My guess is they were in survival mode. Can’t you just hear them thinking:
We are slaves, here, not warriors. All we got is a bunch of people who knew nothing but taking orders and building monuments. No one took a class on warfare. We should just go back to Egypt. There at least we knew who the problem was, and if we kept our heads down and made those bricks, he would leave us alone. We are not warriors! We are going to get slaughtered!
At any point did Moses, speaking for God, say that conquering the land would be done in their own strength? God promised to go before the children and drive the people out:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. (Deut. 7:1-2)
God upholds His people because of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:
The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deut. 7:7-9)
Here is God’s promise to His people:
You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. (Deut. 7:17-24)
Why did the spies lie? Fear, pure and simple. Fear will scour your brain, and you forget every single promise God makes to you. Look what happened when the spies’ fear permeated the camp:
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Num. 14:1-4)
Fear has gripped the people to the point of irrationality. They need rescuing, right? That’s why we go into CoDeMo! We hate to see others suffer. We want to fix their problems so they will be happy. Once we sense all is well, we can go back to that uneasy peace that ALL co-dependents all have. We know another chaotic moment is in the near future, but we gladly take the calm before the storm.
Somewhere, long ago, we took it upon ourselves to make others happy. We basked in their approval when things were going well and grew anxious when things started to deteriorate. We wanted to stop the person’s suffering now, ignoring any contribution the person had made to their own woe. We may not have connected the dysfunctional dots at first; we see such people as victims of circumstance.
Right now, that’s exactly how the children of Israel see themselves: victims. Victims of what? Can’t you just hear the whining in their voices? Here we go:
· It’s Moses’ and Aaron’s fault we are in this mess!
· Those nasty people in the Promised Land are so terrifying that we would have rather died than have to face what’s coming!
· It’s God’s fault! We gonna die by all those nasty warriors and all because God brought us here!
· Our wives and kids….oh shudder! Thinking about what will happen to them is awful! !
· Can we make a right-turn? Gather our stuff and our families and hoof it back to Egypt? Yeah, we were slaves, beaten, abused and our boy babies met a watery end, but that’s a whole lot better than facing amped-up warriors with a thirst for blood! Our blood!
· Who pick Moses and Aaron anyway? We didn’t! It’s about time we stood up and got ourselves a kind of leader we like! One that takes danger seriously!
· God said this land is ours! Why are there people in it?
Let’s look at the people’s response to the spies’ lies, and see how this applies to those people who trigger our desire to step in and rescue them:
It’s all about them: The people with Moses and Aaron are focusing only on themselves. Their woe, their pain, their victimhood is the only topic of conversation. They shut out anything that may remove them from the center of the situation. They want to take control away from Moses, despite his excellent leadership in God’s power so far.
Unhealthy people will want your life, friends, family, and God shunted to the side so they will occupy center stage. They want to be in control, no matter what, and you better get on board. They want your eyes to be only on them. They want their focus to be your focus. They present their pain and suffering as being so overwhelming that you will step in and help. And help. And help. And help.
Their belief system is very skewed: The people with Moses and Aaron are emphasizing their victimhood, with all of its pain and suffering.
If you offer unhealthy people a balanced view of their situation, with the good and the bad, they will hand-select only what appeals to their self-centered attitude and will reject everything else. You will feel thwarted by their refusal to see the situation in a balanced way; but you will go along with it, because you want to help them. If that means ignoring your own evaluation of the situation, so be it.
Their emotional reaction is extreme: These people with Moses and Aaron are going off the rails and want everyone to join them, even to the point of wanting new leaders who will agree with them.
Unhealthy people are always in some form of chaos, and want everyone around them to be as well. If you are calm and offering rational responses to their irrational fears, you will feel their wrath, because you are being disloyal to their view of their lives. So you ignore your own emotions and focus only on theirs.
The situation must be fixed right now: Notice the people offer all sorts of ideas and regrets and are unwilling to contemplate a solution. They want to fix the problem now!
For unhealthy people, the emphasis is on right now, and if you are not forthcoming with a solution, then you are deemed useless by them. Because their approval matters to you, you jump in and buy the idea of Now! Now! Now! Even if all that means is Talk! Talk! Talk! At least, you are showing these people you care, even if nothing changes in their lives.
Whew. People like this, whether with Moses and Aaron or with us, are exhausting. Look how Moses and Aaron respond:
Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Num. 14:5-9)
Joshua put the focus back on the Lord, where our focus needs to be. People that trigger our CoDeMo derail our focus on God and direct it to them and their problems. They will listen to you for a short time, waiting for you to take a breath so they can continue talking only about their problems.
With us, fear is rampant on both sides: the people that you are talking to are immersed in it, and you, with your desire to rescue them, are driven by it. But is fear a gift of God? A funny question, and a question that everyone in church would give a holy “No way!” But, in our quiet moments, our fear speaks to us.
As CoDeWo’s, fear says:
· Unhealthy, hurting people are your responsibility—get on this
· You are not doing enough—you must help the hurting sheep
· These people are still struggling—it is your responsibility to change them
· These people think in a way that is confused, deluded or misguided—you must go along with them and try to work in their world to help them
· You see red flags in these people’s lives—in order to help them, you must suppress any misgivings you may have about what they say or do
· You know the Bible wants you to speak the truth in love, but you don’t want to make these people angry and risk their disapproval
· These people are not changing nor are their circumstances—work harder!
· Jesus doesn’t like it when we are not helping people
Others’ fear begets our fear. What does God’s Word say? Quite the opposite! 2 Timothy 1:7 says:
· [F]or God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (ESV)
· “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (HCSB)
· “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (NIV)
The context here is Paul reminding a young pastor, Timothy, of his spiritual heritage and how he is to go forth in boldness, without fear and relying on God for guidance:
I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:5-7)
Let’s apply these loving words to us. Our faith is precious to God. We are precious to God. God has bestowed spiritual gifts on each one of His children, to equip them to serve His people and the lost. God wants us to be bold in Him, serving with His power, steeped in His love, and having the spiritual fruit of self-control.
Look at the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Gal. 5:22-23)
Why would God want us to have the fruit of self-control? Because what we bring to serve Him—our brokenness, our sinful nature and our willful desire--will contradict the ways of the Holy Spirit:
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. (Gal. 5:16-18)
I can hear you saying, “Under the Law of Moses? How does that apply to me?” CoDeMo is a kind of law in our lives. However we were primed to be co-dependent, it is a kind of law that drives our thoughts and our actions. I can remember thinking that I could do life no other way; every need in others required my attention. Every broken person needed my help and I did it all in the name of Jesus. Or so I thought. I wasn’t doing evil. But my sinful nature trumped the self-control that the Spirit was trying to create in me. So, I was following my sinful nature. How so? I was in bondage all those years, because in trying to save others, I was trying to save myself:
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. (Gal. 5:13-15 NLT)
“Wait a minute! But you loved others as you loved yourself! How could that be wrong?” Hold on. I didn’t love myself. I hated myself. I felt like everyone’s endless parade of needs required my attention, and when people did not change, I tried even harder to help them, because I was responsible to do so. I gave of my time, my resources, and my heart. I refused to listen to my husband when he warned me that these people were manipulating me. I grew angry if I couldn’t just run off and help someone, even if it meant leaving my kids and husband to carry on. I was emotionally a wreck from all the rescuing I was doing. I couldn’t give my best to my kids and family. I wish I had really sat down and studied His Word. But I was driven to help others, make excuses for them and take on their lives, because I listened only to my own fear.
Next up, we are going to look at the verses that describe people who are walking according to the flesh and those who are walking after the Spirit. This will help us evaluate unhealthy people before we just jump in and assume they are victims.