The Stupidity of My Self-Sufficiency

Beth Demme Blog 2 Comments

When my daughter was a toddler, one of my her favorite refrains was “I do it my big-self, Mommy.” It was a phrase that simultaneously made me happy (so proud!) and terrified (she’s not ready!).

If you’ve spent any time around the preschool scene, you know toddlers can go from clingy to independent in an instant. It’s fun to watch them as they gain confidence in exploring the world. It’s also heartwarming to be the one who provides the security of a hug when their confidence falters.

What isn’t fun or heartwarming is that moment you sense danger but your toddler takes action before you can. That flash of time when they pull away and tumble down the last step or move toward the electrical outlet with super-human speed.

Sometimes a toddler’s self-sufficiency gets her into trouble.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s like this with me and God.

I’m the self-sufficient toddler. I burst out on my own, full of confidence and ready for adventure. I fail to pause and check in with the much more experienced grown-up who loves me. When it all goes wrong, I throw a tantrum or crumple in a heap.

But I’m not a toddler. I’m an adult, thank-you-very-much. I should know better, right?

The thing is, self-sufficiency isn’t all bad. I just take it too far sometimes.

There are plenty of things I can, and should, do for myself.

God created me to be a capable human being. He’s given me a strong mind AND opposable thumbs!

The problem is I sometimes sacrifice my relationship with God by saying, “Hey God, I do it my big-self!” I don’t always consciously choose this, I just move through my day without thinking about how to engage God.

Whether I forget to rely on God or stubbornly choose not to, the result is the same — I deny myself the opportunity to Live Loved.

The thing is, I know God is reliable.

At my 8th Grade Confirmation, my pastor gave me 1 Peter 5:7 as my guiding verse: “Cast all your anxieties on God because he cares for you.” This verse provided solace to me a few months later when my oldest brother died unexpectedly. I have cast my anxieties on God many, many times since then.

I understand why Proverbs says “those who trust in their own wits are fools” (Proverbs 28:26 NRSV) and “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight” (Proverbs 3:5).

My own life experience has shown me that God’s ways really are better than my own.

It seems like knowing this should make me smarter than a toddler.

But instead, I’m like a toddler who says, “Thanks for the thumbs, God, now I can do anything! I think I’ll stick this one in the electrical outlet and see what happens.”

My thumbs are useful unless I’m using them to get electrocuted.

When I don’t rely on God my capabilities become stumbling blocks in my life. My self-sufficiency builds a wall between me and God and prevents me from living loved.

Instead of going that route, I’m better off when I use my free-will to choose God. Life is better—I am better—when I travel through life in love with God and being loved by God.

How about you? Are you a stubbornly independent toddler? How do you use your gifts without allowing them to separate you from God? Tell me about it in the comments, in an email, or on Facebook. As always, I love hearing from you!

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