Is “self-help” an oxymoron?

For 18 years, my best friend has scoffed at my passion for books in the “self help” category.  Even with no intention of reading a book, she would treat a copy of Think & Grow Rich like a bio-hazard.  Although her distaste has never been fully explained, I always figured it was because of her strong independence.  Isn’t it ironic that the byproduct of many “self help” books is independence?   I used to shake my head at her rejection and marvel at her stubbornness.  But now…I find I’m shaking my head at my own stubbornness and deception. Why? 

I have been dependent on the trinity of Angela (ME, myself and I) instead of the Trinity of God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit).  I am well taught, well practiced and reliant on me for survival, provision and destiny and yet I am suppose to be a child of God, trusting in Him alone as the Creator, Provider, and Sustainer of ALL things.

 I read Think & Grow Rich when I was 14. Soon I was on to Stephen Covey, Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie and the list goes on and on and on…and on.  My goal has always been to get “TO” and everything else inbetween is just failure. 

I believe and act on principles such as:

If you don’t succeed with talent, succeed with effort.

If you aren’t moving towards your goal, you are moving away from it.

You create your destiny.

Anything is possible.

Try. Try. And Try again.

 Although these principles are not BAD, they CAN become IDOLS that foster striving and independence from God.  The tricky part is that it happens to the best of us while we are unaware and convinced these are good, sound and God-given principles. Yet…if you believe in God and the Bible as the inspired Word of God, He teaches us that HE is THE Helper.  He WANTS us to be reliant on Him and to acknowledge and depend on Him for all provision and destiny in our lives.

Help doesn’t come from yourself, it comes from God.

Ps 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.  Deuteronomy 33:26

“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” Ps 54:4

“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.” Ps 146:5

GOD is the Helper. God wants our surrender and acknowledgement of our NEED for Him.

Oh…how wrong I have been. How wrong I was to be so reliant on myself. How I now see that I have been trying to make my own destiny happen. And I thought I was trusting God and relying only on Him. I wasn’t.

Now what do I do? I feel lost.  I thought I was STRONG by being independent and trained myself that dependence=weakness.  And now my world is turned upside down as I realize God is asking me to put down my safety net and to become…dependent.  But I sense, deep within, that without total trust in God…we will always feel discontent: we will always feel like we are missing something in our lives and feel like we are so close yet so far from achieving a purpose.

Have you been on a similar journey? Ever had to surrender everything you once relied on, to God?  Did you ever have to declare complete dependence on Him? How’d that turn out? Would love to hear from you.

-Angela

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