Save for a few precious moments, I have gone through the majority of my life feeling somewhat removed from God. I never really felt that God was a reliable source of comfort and friendship for me, so I turned elsewhere. Most of the time it was other people. That never worked out well, either. For several years, I had off-and-on issues with codependency and love obsessions. It took a whole lot of time, effort, and growth to begin using my own soul as my primary life force. I am proud of my newfound independence.
Additionally, I have grown up in the public school system, in a markedly diverse and liberal area. I’ve been taught to congratulate and reward myself for achievements. Critical thinking and self-reliance have been emphasized as some of the most important life skills one could ever develop.
So naturally, with these experiences, I cannot help but feel queasy when I hear people attribute their personal growth and achievements primarily to God. It makes no sense to me. Giving God all the glory and credit takes out all the hard work they put into their success–their hours, their tears, their brainpower. Their main refutation is that “God made it all possible.” But did he? God was not the one who directly put in all that hard work. They made it happen. Their inner strength and willpower made it possible. (I must also add that God can’t even be proven. The inner psyche, however, can.)
Giving God all the credit could lead to a lack of belief in oneself. I grew up thinking that “believe in yourself” was a sick, secular platitude uttered only by lost heathens. God was the only one to be believed in. Having no faith in oneself is dangerous. What happens if God decides to go silent–as he often does? What happens if someone drifts far from God? They are left feeling helpless. Even if they believe God will always be there, they won’t always feel like it. But they’ll always be there for themselves. They can look in the mirror and see their reflection. Isn’t their physical presence far more reliable than a theoretical, invisible deity who supposedly lives inside them?
Even worse is the advice to “constantly dwell on God.” I have heard Christians say that they can’t get him out of their heads. To me, that’s just as bad as being obsessed with a significant other (see almost every love song known to man). Nothing should be constantly dwelled upon. That leads to codependency and obsession. The mind is designed to wander. Thoughts are supposed to have variety. Trying to train oneself to think only on one thing is unnatural and probably unhealthy. And I cannot be convinced that a codependency on God is a good thing. Codependency by definition is destructive. It steals, depletes, and sucks life.
It’s relevant for me to add that one cannot completely rely on oneself, either. Humans were made for each other. We need relationships to survive. That is why a healthy support system consists of ourselves, several people, and, if one chooses, a higher power. No one thing or one person should be someone’s “everything.”
I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to believe in God, or that it’s unhealthy to trust in a higher power. Faith can be–and has been–a lifesaver to some. But it’s sad to see somebody completely overlook their own abilities and achievements for a god. It’s not normal for somebody to obsess over one thing or rely on one person. We are mixtures, containing many complex parts. So is life. Discover and utilize that beautiful variety.