Thursday, 14 August 2008

Beholden to no one?

I think many of us like to feel that we are "beholden to no one". If someone pays for my coffee I feel uneasy and think, "I must remember to return the favour". (I have such a bad memory, however, I don't suppose I always do remember. But at the time, I feel uncomfortable).

I like to be independent. I've always been like that. I love my friends but I don't phone them up all the time and I don't live in their pockets. A hundred years ago when I still went to discos, I never understood why girls had to go with their pals to the toilets - I was quite happy to go on my own. I like to socialise but I like my space too. I would rather do without something than ask someone else for it. I feel guilty if someone buys me something or does something I can't repay.

I reckon that an independent spirit is quite natural and quite common, and not entirely a Bad Thing. However, as I reflect on it, I realise that I am in fact quite inclined to try to carry my independent, beholden-to-no-one attitude into my faith where it is completely out of place and inappropriate.

The Christian faith declares us to be morally and spiritually bankrupt and without hope of earning our way into heaven. Our only hope is to bring our bankruptcy, our debt, to Jesus and get Him to pay it all off for us. I do believe that. I've believed it since I first understood it in 1979. But my independent beholden-to-no-one attitude keeps kicking in so that I rebel and back off from full submission to God. I put myself back in the driving seat, back on the throne (I'm mixing all my metaphors spectacularly in this post, thanks to tiredness plus a glass of wine).

I try and run the show myself, but it's not because I don't love God. I do love Him. I just don't want to be a burden to Him. Huh? And doh! How silly that sounds. How silly that IS. I'm going to be a lot less of a burden if I let Him take charge, if I stop working on the basis of my own so-called wisdom which has got me into many a scrape.

I would be so hurt if my kids didn't let me parent them. I'd be so hurt if they said they didn't need me. And it would be a lot more work and a much greater burden for me, clearing up after all their mistakes. The job I'm called to, the vocation, is way beyond my human capabilities. Some aspects of it I actually enjoy a lot. Some less so. But on my own I can't do anything for those guys. Not really. Not compared to what God can do.

Now that I come to think about it, I tell you what I want, what I really really want (sorry, went all Spice Girls for a moment there)... what I want is to be TOTALLY and UTTERLY beholden to God. I want to see what He wants to do for our prisoners, and what He could do if Mrs Independent here stopped getting in the road.


Mr. Nighttime said...

"If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank." - Woody Allen

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I hear you. I used to struggle so much thinking I had to get my act together before I came to God. It still crops up now and then. It's so hard for us to admit we are totally and utterly beholden to God.

dawn klinge said...

That was so good! I have this same problem and I know it affects my relationship with God sometimes...I don't want to be so independent that I can't put my trust in God.

thailandchani said...

I think once we "get it" that we are all one, the weighing, measuring and score-keeping become less important. Macho independence is a product of the culture rather than our human nature which is to live interdependently.

Independence is an illusion. None of us can be truly independent. If so, we'd need to grow our own food, hunt our own meat, make our own clothes with cotton we process ourselves. That's the logical extrapolation of complete independence.

Nice blog, btw. I'll be back. I like reading about redemption. :)


AnneDroid said...

"None of us can be truly independent. If so, we'd need to grow our own food, hunt our own meat, make our own clothes with cotton we process ourselves."

Ha ha, yes, you're so right. I'd be so rubbish at true independence. I need Tesco to do my hunter-gathering for me.

Welcome here, btw.

Dawn and Ruth, it's good you understand.

Mr N, a great quote!