I have always prided myself on being a very driven, independent girl. A thread of sheer stubbornness has always further “enhanced” these character traits. I always took care of my needs and “to-do” list on my own, by choice. I was independent enough that trying to get everything done with someone else was harder than staying in my own little world and being solely responsible for checking off each task.

I flew out to Nashville. It didn’t register to me at the time that would mean depending on others for a ride to run my errands, grab groceries, or go to Starbucks (thank you, allowance money!). Both of the guys on the immersion brought their cars and are ever willing to take me anywhere, I know I just have to ask. Roadblock: that requires me to get over my strong independence and depend on another. What is it about asking someone to take me somewhere that absolutely eats me alive? I think it plays into the “I can do absolutely everything for myself” mentality that has become more and more prevalent these past few years. Or, maybe it falls into feeling helpless, as if I could not do something for myself, even if I tried. However, I have realized that although it is hard for me to ask, most of the refugees and immigrants I am working with do not even have the opportunity to ask someone to go somewhere. They have to try to navigate a whole new world, including a gathering of systems: economic, social, and religious. Now, that is a struggle.

I realize how much I take for granted that a car has my name on it at home. Dependency is not easy. But, not even having someone to depend on, where no one speaks your language, is far beyond my naïve, stubborn tendencies.  From the novel When Helping Hurts, a poor person from Moldova described being impoverished in this way, “We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us. We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of.” The people groups I am working with HAVE to be overwhelmingly dependent on others to get through each day. I cannot help but think that this dependency furthers a sense of helplessness and poverty of being.

Just as much as I enjoy being able to help others when they need it the most, I need to be able to accept that in return. I am blessed to have so many willing people around me, including the guys, who would happily, and do, help me out.  Peter Jennings once said, “There’s no such thing as an independent person.” I previously would have disagreed with this statement. I am now realizing that this is true and that you do not want to strive to be a completely independent person. You can think of yourself as completely independent, but in the end, you really do need that love and support of a greater community. We help one another because we care. Our ability to do so is a beautiful thing. I cannot view it as a one way street, intent on me being able to provide help, but never graciously accepting it when I need it. Having someone beside you only ends up serving your situation. For every time in my past that I have turned away help, I now am looking to meet my stubbornness at full force with a smile and excitement to be able to share these moments of need and companionship with other people.

One thought on “Dependency

  1. Olivia, great thoughts on a very pervasive issue for modern Westerners! I couldn’t help but notice the person quoted lamenting two things at once: his/her utter dependence “on everyone” while no one seemed to depend upon them in return. I’m wondering what might be a more healthy, human, and deeply biblical ideal: “Interdependence” perhaps?

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