Miss Independent

Dennis Forleo
October 20th, 2021
Girl standing alone

Everything in life has an opposite: light and dark, good and evil, yin and yang. For many of these pairs of opposites, one cannot exist without the other. We could never understand light without knowing what it’s like to have darkness. We could never understand joy without having experienced sadness. However, many pairs of opposites exist, not in opposition with each other, but rather they exist in harmony, attempting to balance each other out. One of these such pairs is dependence and independence. 

We live in a culture that glorifies independence. And in many ways that’s a really good thing. But if we only strive for independence, we can end up making life a lot more difficult for ourselves and the people we love. In contrast, being too dependent on others can lead to us holding ourselves back and hurting people around us as well. There are a lot of ways in which we have a good understanding of when to be independent. But many people have a tendency to try and be independent when they should rely on others, and vice versa. Many people look to others for things they should handle themselves. 

When it comes to the daily functions of life, independence is a must. We have to be able to take care of things like personal hygiene, daily chores, and work tasks on our own. It’s particularly in the day-to-day tasks that independence truly shines. However, when external change is involved, many people have a tendency to fall back on others to make changes happen. This is never more true than when it comes to political change. Often times, when people want to see a policy change, they push for it on a national level, where they tend to have the least control. People look to federal representatives to make changes happen without even attempting to make the change on a local level. They become dependent on their representatives to make the changes for them. 

If we want to see change happen in our lives, we can’t wait around and hope that someone will make the changes we want to see. We can’t have the mentality that someone else will make it happen. At the same time, we need to get rid of the mindset that change has to occur on a larger scale. Even small changes make an impact. So whether it’s in your family, at work, or in your local community, if there is a change you want to take place, we must be independent and stand for ourselves. That’s the only way change will ever take place. 

Although independence is a must for external change, too often people attempt to create internal change by the same means, and it doesn’t quite work the same way. Our culture has a really toxic mentality about dependence. From a young age, kids are taught that they have to be able to handle the world on their own. If not, they’re told they have no chance at being successful. In many ways, this is true. We can’t wait around for handouts or for someone to carry us to a happy life. But this lesson is often taken too far. It results in a lot of people trying to deal with internal issues on their own. And with small things that’s okay, but when it comes to things like major life challenges and mental health issues, the worst thing we can do for ourselves is to try and manage it all alone. 

If we want to create internal change in our lives, we need to rely both on God and on the people closest to us. Our friends and family want to be there for us when we are struggling. And I promise you that whether you want them to or not, they know when we’re not okay. By trying to deal with internal issues independently, we often shut those people out, which only makes things more difficult for us and more painful for them. Our friends and family want to help, and can often lighten that load for us. A good friend of mine once said that “More often than not, other people’s burdens are lighter than our own.” This isn’t to say that our problems are bigger than everyone else’s, but rather that it’s easier to help carry someone else’s cross than to try and carry our own by ourselves. So if we have the chance, let someone else help lighten your load, so that you can find a way to deal with it together. 

More important than relying on our friends, however, is the need to lean on God. Matthew 11:29-30 says “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Lately I’ve been trying to develop the habit of surrendering my struggles to God. It’s been incredible how much of a difference it makes. There are so many things that I’ve been praying for for years, and I’ve honestly felt like nothing had changed. But then I realized I had been asking for things the worst way possible.

I’d spent years asking God to tell me how to fix everything, and suddenly I realized how prideful that really was. I wasn’t actually giving my problems to God and trusting Him to fix them. Instead I was asking Him to tell me how to do it all myself. I wasn’t really leaning on Him. I started changing the way I asked for His help. Instead, I began surrendering my problems completely to Him, telling God to do with them what He wanted because I certainly can’t fix them myself. The changes started flooding in and I was able to grow a lot more at a much quicker pace. I’d like to encourage you to ask yourself if you’re truly surrendering your problems to God, or if you’re still trying to fix them yourself. If we are going to ask God to help us grow and change, we need to make sure we get out of the way so He can actually work in us.

While being independent is certainly important, we need to keep it in balance with depending on God and the people around us. And most importantly, we need to know which trait to use and when. If we strive to be too dependent, we block people out who love us and just want to help. But if we let others do everything for us, we can never see changes take place in our communities, or achieve any kind of real success. Both need to be applied throughout our lives. And when we learn how to keep them in balance, our loads become easier and our world becomes a better place. 

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