Saturday, May 14, 2005

DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND ‘’CHRISTIAN PRIDE’’ Part 4

Along with the fear of losing control, many defensive maneuvers come into play: the selective forgetting, simple denial, outright lies and fantasy, vulnerable make-believe lives. The great paradox of course is that at the very core of vanity or pride, is fear. The fear of losing control of one’s life is also a generalized anxiety about losing control to others by growing to need them. We might, heaven forbid, come to depend on others who might influence us willy-nilly. Once really needed they could grow cold and abusive, become rejective and finally just go away. Note how fiercely loss and separation are guarded against; it is not death per se that is feared most; in the face of need fear, or fear of needing, it is the fear of losing control over death! In cases of depression, for one example among many, dying on one’s own terms is often preferable-- one then controls by making it happen-- rather than all the waiting in darkness, not knowing the manner, day or hour. In situations where much anxiety and suspiciousness are precipitated, the control efforts may extend to (counter) attacks on the lives of others. Another aspect of the same paradox is that some of those who are actually deeply fearful of dependency, but schooled perhaps in a very negative early environment, may take on a quite spurious over-dependent role, but are curiously unable to allow certain others to really meet their needs; those “rescuers” are always seen to fall short, and disappoint the self-appointed victim in some way. Here the victim is the true controller. Can we really be independent? To shed some light on the control issue there are many instances when the actual state of affairs is revealed in startling ways. When a self-styled sufficient- unto-one’s self , “independent” person becomes baffled by everyday external forces threatening to take away some control, even momentarily, say in traffic or the confines of an aircraft journey, what may erupt, often surprising even the “independent” reactor, is violent rage -- sometimes with equally violent intent. Why? “Because that so-and-so turned in front of me! I have been robbed of my freedom, to move where and when I might wish-- without that one I would never react this way-- , (or) those others are responsible for what I’m doing, I hold them accountable, they will pay for it if I have to take it out of their hides.” This behavior would tend to suggest that the speaker’s well-being , and even sense of sanity depends entirely on the actions of those unimportant others. It thus seems that keeping our apparently inescapable dependency needs out of conscious awareness can lead to rude awakenings, some times with impulses to fight or destroy something, in order to reinstate a sense of having control.

Getting along in this world, (and the next) probably requires that some form of workable interdependency be in place, but obviously excessive anxiety about it may lead to tensions surrounding some relationships, especially those involving closeness. One such effect is a withdrawal towards a lonely, secret inner life, and to the loss of true security, companionship and belongingness-- essentially rejection of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; The deeper loss is that this fear of dependency, of relinquishing self-control, “ I did it my way-- I’m really an independent type”, extends often to the unwillingness to depend entirely on God the Father. It is true that the Lord expects us to be self-reliant to some degree, but even this is attained only through His Grace and strength.

How are we to understand Christ’s words, “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”? (Mark 10:15). Among other qualities a little child is relatively dependent-- a condition suitable for acceptance by the Lord Almighty. The tendency to understand these words as a reference to purity and innocence exclusively runs head-on into the many dismaying reports of violent and criminal behavior among children and youths. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Prov. 20:11. Calvinist enough?).

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

So, not just submission, but also the dependency of a child is required. I am comforted by reading Isaiah 46:3-4, "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all of the remnant of the house of Isreal, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I AM He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you."
I take this to heart since I have been grafted into this remnant.