I’ve spent the last month or two fighting mono. According to the blood tests, I have had this sickness before but I never remember experiencing anything like this in my life. In short, it was horrible.
I remember that all February I struggled with depression, thinking that there was something wrong with me on the inside, with my soul. I tried to eat better but had no appetite. I tried to work better but was too fatigued. I tried to love more but had no emotions. At the same time, I ended up getting bronchitis and after that strep. Even after medicating the strep away, I could barely breathe or swallow. My abdomen was in intense pain from my spleen being enlarged. I was miserable. The doctor put me on bed rest for 6 weeks, stopping me from working, serving, and anything else I do with my life.
I believe that there is something God is trying to teach us in everything that we go through. So what did He teach me? Dependency.
For the last 4-6 weeks, I haven’t been able to do much. There were times I couldn’t get a drink. I couldn’t work and make money to support my family. I was humbled by the serving and giving of friends and family to us in many areas.
I felt pathetic.
The reason I felt pathetic was because I had built my life on independence and on arrogance of what I could do alone. I put my self-worth in what I could accomplish by myself. Before the sickness, I felt like God’s perfect worker — leading teams, teaching classes, holding conferences, and providing for my family. So when all of my ability was taken away from me, I felt utterly worthless.
I loathed dependency. I abhorred the idea of being subject to someone else’s availability or ability. Even more, I hated being dependent upon God, someone I couldn’t see, command, or control. Over and over this verse was resounding in my heart:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
I feel like I’m under a waterfall and those final words are washing over and over me. “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
Dependency. Relying on someone besides myself. That’s where my self-worth should be found: utter dependency on Jesus and what He has done, is doing, and what He will do. Here’s where it strikes a chord with me though: if kingdom things are only done through dependence, then I am only rewarded for my work on earth that I did dependent upon another, whether God or other saints.
I am a huge “quality over quantity” person, which is why I do many things myself, because I feel I can do them better and timelier. But God is more about teamwork. Not that He dislikes excellence, but excellence done in arrogant independence is worthless to Him. The process of working as a team to achieve excellence, the process of improving in dependency, is what pleases His heart.
I’m still working through this lesson and I’m sure there are many bad habits left in my independent nature. I need to keep John 14:4-5 in front of me, as well as this verse:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:3-5)
It’s time for me to stop thinking I am the body and begin to act like I’m just one piece of the body, His body, and become more dependent upon this body that holds me together.