Independence and perseverance is a great thing … except when it’s not. So when does an admirable quality lead to a weakness? Read Elizabeth Maddrey’s devotion to find out.
I was born into a strong-willed family. Both of my parents are smart, independent, stubborn, and strong-willed. My grandparents were, too. And my sister and I followed suit. Most of the time, I don’t consider it a bad thing. Being this way helped me get through those awkward junior and senior high years as the nerdy, chunky girl who was the brunt of too many jokes. Those same traits helped me get through college and graduate school – you don’t finish a PhD without a larger-than-average helping of stubbornness.
But it’s not always smooth sailing. When my boyfriend (now my husband) told his parents he was going to propose, my father-in-law-to-be said, “Are you sure? She’s awfully independent.” Thankfully, that independence is something my husband admires in me.
I’ll admit I have a tendency to think I can fix just about anything by myself.
Leaky toilet? Not calling a plumber (or my husband.) I can fix it myself. Button fell off and I’m running late? Find a safety pin. I can fix it myself. Tire goes flat? I can fix it myself. And sure, some of those are good survival skills for any woman to have. If it stops there. I’m not so good at stopping there. That’s where I start to get in trouble.
When my heart hurts because of a broken friendship, my first thought isn’t to pray. I think I can fix it myself. When I’m feeling stuck in a spiritual desert, I don’t immediately turn to the Scriptures. I try to fix it myself. When temptation is knocking at my door, I try to fix it myself.
It’s probably not a surprise that the heroines in my novels share these traits with me. And they too reap the consequences of their own stubbornness. In “Wisdom to Know,” Lydia doesn’t wait for God to bring her His choice of a mate; she pursues her own agenda. When that falls apart, she tries to “fix” the mess by covering it up. The cover-up nearly destroys her. In “Courage to Change,” Allison stubbornly refuses to ask her family for help until a stalker turns truly dangerous.
Like my heroines, my first inclination to “fix it myself” inevitably makes the problem worse. Then, when I’ve turned the divot into a six foot trench, I remember that it’s not always good to be so self-reliant. We were created for relationship with God – and part of that relationship is leaning on Him and asking Him to fix our broken pieces because we’re simply not able. Now that I have small children, I’ve begun to understand a tiny bit of what God must feel when He sees me struggling to fix what’s beyond my ability, knowing that He’d be happy to do it, if I’d just let go and ask for help.
I’m starting to get better about putting the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 into action.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
For me, the most convicting words in there are “lean not on your own understanding.” I want to say, “But God gave me a brain!” And He did. But His is so much better. “But He made me smart.” But He’s so much smarter. My understanding is based on a few short years here on this earth. His understanding is based on eternal perspective and the entirety of His plan.
Lean not on my own understanding. Because compared to Him, I understand very little.
Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity.
Her debut novel, Wisdom to Know, Book One of the ‘Grant Us Grace’ Series, was released in January, 2013. Courage to Change is the second in that series and continues to the story of characters from the first book. She is also the co-author of A is for Airstrip: A Missionary’s Jungle Adventure, a children’s book based on the work of a Wycliffe missionary.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey
Courage to Change by Elizabeth Maddrey (Book Two of the ‘Grant Us Grace’ Series):
Should you be willing to change for love?
When Phil Reid became a Christian and stopped drinking, his hard-partying wife, Brandi, divorced him. Reeling and betrayed, he becomes convinced Christians should never remarry, and resolves to guard his heart.
Allison Vasak has everything in her life under control, except for one thing. Her heart is irresistibly drawn to fellow attorney and coworker, Phil. Though she knows his history and believes that women should not initiate relationships, she longs to make her feelings known.
As Phil and Allison work closely together to help a pregnant teen, both must re-evaluate their convictions. But when Brandi discovers Phil’s new relationship, she decides that though she doesn’t want him, no one else can have him either. Can Phil and Allison’s love weather the chaos Brandi brings into their lives?
Let’s talk about this! Is prayer normally your first choice or must you slam into a few brick walls before you slide to your knees? What’s the difference between independence and God-dependence? And how might the latter look lived out?
Share your thoughts here in the comments or on Facebook at Living by Grace.