It started at the age of two. I was called stubborn, hard-headed, later on a rebel. One of my earliest memories is of my grandad’s best friend rubbing the top of my head and giving me the nickname “brickhead.” That one has stuck with me, with no offense taken! I’ve always thought of myself as an extremist. Someone who was strong-willed. A self-sufficient person. A certified perfectionist. And being a self-sufficient person is mostly great—until it’s not. Here’s how I learned how solving all my own problems may not be the best goal after all.
I was always a friendly person and friends with all kinds of people. But in my teens, I started feeling that I had done some pretty bad things in my life, and some really bad things had happened to me. I remember growing up around Christians thinking they were perfect, but I was far from perfect. My view of God was that He could never love me since I wasn’t a church-goer. I decided if that was what He wanted, then it was too bad because Christianity wasn’t for me. I didn’t trust Christians because of what I saw in churches, family, and friends. I saw many Christians as prideful, so I fought back with my own pride in myself and who I was. My spiritual pride was in myself. I was proud of my own spirituality—in that I had rejected Christianity, making myself better than “them.” My self-sufficiency was born.
Fast-forward a few years. My husband, Trevor, and I were living the dream. When I met my him, we were both successful business owners. Later on he was the VP of one of the top-10 fastest growing companies in Dallas. We had the big money, big houses, big cars, big parties, big vacations, and big pride. You get the picture. My husband was a money/success seeker. Oh, and I was an alcoholic. Something was missing, but we didn’t know what. We’d figure it out, though. I certainly didn’t need any help! We decided to move from Texas to Oklahoma.
As it turned out, I was beginning to see the end of my self-sufficiency. Four months after our move, I had a choice: Get help with my drinking or lose my husband and 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The loves of my life. My pride in myself was a sickness for me. C.S. Lewis puts it like this: “For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.”
This brickhead was starting to soften. I went to AA. I was staying sober. At the same time, a friend invited us to Life.Church. Trevor said yes. I said no. (Okay, maybe still mostly a brickhead!) But three months later, I said yes. My husband and I became followers of Christ in 2004.
Is this where the happy ending came in? Well, not yet. Two months later, we lost everything. Every large and small material item you can think of, the business, all of our money, cars, furniture. We didn’t have groceries to feed our family. We didn’t understand why. We thought we were doing everything right. We were soaking up everything we could to know God personally. We were on fire for God! But it turned out this brickhead still had more to learn about how to place myself in a position to lean on God instead of myself. God was using our hardship to teach me. I’ve found it’s only through our weakness that God can and will work in our lives for His good. He will never barge in. He knocks on the door of our hearts. And waits for us to answer.
So, where was I still going wrong? I hadn’t let others into my life. I needed their support, but I didn’t have a clue how to receive it. I was still saying “no” to God a lot. I prefer to make my own way in life. But, like I said, God won’t barge into your life. He was waiting for my “yes.” And when I did let Him in, He changed my anger, resentment, and pride into peace, confidence in who He made me, and humility at break-neck speed! It seems the more you say yes to God, the faster He moves in your life. Here’s what God showed me about how to break through my constant need to be self-sufficient.
If you’re a little overly self-sufficient, try doing what I did.
- I said yes to attending church.
- I said yes to joining a Life.Group.
- I even said yes to joining a women’s Bible study!
- I said yes to meeting with a mentor.
- I said yes to serving in kids’ ministry at church.
- I said yes to praying and reading my Bible.
- I tried to say yes to everything I felt God ask of me.
As many years have passed, I now get to serve alongside my husband in ministry. I know, crazy. My life has changed completely. I have the opportunity to share my stories with many people and in return I have been able to hear people share their stories with me. It is truly a blessing! I’ve seen the mountaintops and the many valleys. It is in those valleys that God helps me remove another layer of spiritual pride, and that allows so much more love in. He has done—and undone—so much for me!
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24 ESV