• JGarrison

Codependency is a Counterfeit Christianity

Written 7/5/20

A Piece of My Testimony

In 2012 a counselor told me to read Codependent No More. I reluctantly read 1 chapter and put it away deciding this stuff was just for those in relationships with addicts. That wasn’t me. In 2016 I was in my graduate program taking a course on domestic violence and interpersonal abuse. We learned about codependency, the name Beattie was praised, and I again thought, “I see this in other people!”.

For a season in the summer of 2018 I met with a woman from church who talked a lot about codependency and alluded to me having these behaviors. I hid my offense thinking, “she doesn’t know me, that’s not me”. (eye-roll at self). Later on in February of 2019 I was in Sandy, OR and had some time to spare after a meeting. I immediately thought of going into the Goodwill I had passed by earlier. I went in and went straight to the book sections like I normally do. I picked up a book titled Codependent No More by Melody Beattie (the same book from 2012 just a newer edition). Now that I’m honest with myself I had an impression that this book was for me, but my inner imposter thought, “I’ll buy this to loan out to others”. I put the receipt inside the cover and the book went straight to my bookshelf and stayed.

That summer of 2019 began one of the most painful years of my life. In October 2019 the Lord gave me the word “travail”. In another reflection I will speak on what the Lord taught me about travailing, endurance, and hope. Evenstill, by December 2019 I was desperate for answers and relief. I poured into my journal questions about why I kept experiencing the same patterns with people, how after a decade I was clearly the common denominator, and praying for something to change. I did everything in my power to change, but I knew I needed a transformation from the inside out. Eventually, I decided to get away on a solitude retreat and began asking the Lord how to prepare for this time.

Before the retreat I was speaking with a friend about the book that transformed the way I related to Father God. It’s called Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. I spoke with this friend late into the evening after our Bible Study had ended. I remember coming into my home, picking the worn and tattered but cherished book off my shelf and flipping through it. I placed it on my kitchen table thinking I’ll read from it in the morning and got ready for bed. I hope I never forget what happened next.

That night while sleeping, I woke suddenly and sat up straight in my bed with wide eyes. I heard in my spirit and saw in my imagination, “page 16”. I went right back to bed and when I woke up in the morning I knew I was to look at Abba’s Child. This is what I read:

Abba's Child, page 16, Manning

The funny thing is that I thought the point of reading this page was the second to last paragraph starred and underlined in black. But the moment I got to “defines codependency as” and then, “the imposter is a classic codependent” I knew the Lord was answering my prayer. He is the best counselor.

So on December 28th, 2019 I picked up the book that the Lord had been leading me toward for over 7 years. I finished the book by the end of my retreat and came back deeply raw... but hopeful. For the next 3 or so months I was consuming anything I could on this topic and experiencing breakthrough after breakthrough. Through this time I would write and process out my questions with the Lord. Most of this work was for personal use, but I know I’m not alone so I’d like to share some of that work with you now.

Written February 2020

Codependency is a Counterfeit Christianity

Codependent or Christian?

Codependently Christian or

Christianly codependent?

Codependency** is a counterfeit Christianity

It’s not the truth

It’s not Christ-centered

It’s not loving or compassionate

It’s not honoring

It shows favoritism

It’s prideful and self-seeking

It’s insecure

And it’s the gasoline to the flames of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.

From the outside they may look similar at times, but check the motive and they couldn’t be further from the truth.

**Not only codependency but savior/god/hero complexes, acting out parentalization, people-pleasing, rescuing, fixing, and caretaking all fit too.


Christians see others as....

Made to know and be known by YHWH

Uniquely loved by God.

To be respected, honored, and shown truth in love.

In need of a God-Savior just as much as themselves

Not to be shown favoritism

Codependents see others as...

Projects to help or fix

A source of personal value and validation

Incapable on their own

A distraction from an emptiness or hurt

A source of jealousy, guilt, resentment, or weariness

Persecutors and oppressors

Unable to help themselves or the codependent

An idol to worship “helping others is my purpose”, “I was made to serve”, “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t help”


At the core of codependent is...

Self rescuing another

Self defining the situation as a problem

Self believing the other is unable

Self believing “I have what you need”

Self in fear of feeling useless or alone

Self vasalating from “I’m mad” to “I’m bad”

Self care-taking another who doesn’t subscribe to child or patient

Self trying to soothe fears and pain

Self trying to fill the empty deep inside

Self believing “it’s not love unless I put me last”

Self resistant to receiving

At the core is self.

And yet, codependents don’t fully take responsibility for themselves with all the moods, insecurities, and feelings of victimhood. Only for others. To take care of another is to care for self. The deep roots of shame and insecurity makes it too threatening to say, “I have choices about me to make. I’m responsible for me in this scenario.” Detaching and letting go is foreign and “unloving”.


At the core of Christian is...

Christ known & trusted as Savior, Healer, & Judge

Christ’s love for another

Christ’s compassion to carry the burdens of your brother**

Christ’s example to lay down one’s own life for their friend**

Christ’s forgiveness to love an enemy

Christ’s eyes/mind to view problems in His perspective

Christ’s wisdom to know if & when to help

Christ’s faith to trust another to Him

Christ’s truth of “I’m loved”, “I’m secure”

At the core is Christ.

**“Brother” and “friend” are equals. They are fellow humans who, like you, have strengths and weaknesses. Who desire to be respected and treated with honor.


Codependents don’t deal in truth. Honesty is not their strength. Being aware and honest with needs threatens rejection and abandonment. “But is not speaking up to avoid ‘feeling like a burden’ and ‘doing what needs to be done despite how I feel’ really lying?” Well, if something isn’t the truth, what else is it?

Practicing respectful honesty and “truth in love” (Eph.4:15) allows you to say what you mean and mean what you say. No more cognitive dissonance- which is a type of brain damage- and incongruent behaviors or remarks. No more subtleties and code readings. No more sympathy seekers, guilt-trippers, and stonewallers. No more “they should have known”, or thinking you’re the only one. No more thinking you’re uniquely broken or miserable. No more sense of superiority, badges or merit, or addiction to affirmation. No more identities in The Helper, The Problem Solver, or The Good Listener.

With Christ at the core, we’re able to face our darkest parts, the most shameful memories, the reality of our situations, relationships, and lives. With Christ at the core we are secure and at many times actually feel secure. With Christ at our core, we’re enabled to see and know what’s true. Respectful honesty and truth in love can be a part of our moment to moment reality.

Suggested Resources:

WEBSITE -- Melody Beattie’s (check out her blog) I can usually find her books at Goodwill for cheap! I recommend her Language of Letting Go book for daily reminders/encouragement.

ARTICLE -- Codependency: What is it? By Dr. Russ Rainey thru Focus on the Family

PDF/HANDOUT -- I’ve tried finding the author of this PDF but haven’t had any luck. If you know let me know!

See my other book recommendations & reviews at https://www.makelevelpaths.org/book-reviews

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