One Word: Dependence

A few weeks ago, I ate dinner with some of my students on the campus they live on, about a 20-minute walk from my campus.  When we finished dinner, they said, “Miss Anna, we will walk with you.”  Often I manage to dissuade my students when they ask this question, but tonight they were walking to class, so we could actually walk in the same direction.  You see, walking with my students is a bit awkward.  They walk slowly. Really slow. Often they want to link arms, or in this particular instance, they wanted to hold hands for the entirety of the walk.  And these particular students really struggle with their English, so the walk is made in almost complete silence.

As we walked, holding hands, slowly and silently, I was squelching the urge to break free, when one of my students turned her face up to mine and said in a most earnest voice, “We like walking with you, Miss Anna.”

These simple words pierced my heart.  I wonder how often people are begging for someone to just walk with them, but I’m too busy, too distracted, too focused to simply walk with them.  I wonder how often the Father asks me, “just walk with me.” But I put it off, I don’t want to have to slow down, to deal with the awkwardness, to wait to see the direction that He’s walking.

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I wasn’t sure what word to choose when I first read the Velvet Ashes post about one word. But as I thought of one word for 2014, the Father kept bringing the word dependence to my mind. I have to say I initially wanted to reject the word in favor of interdependence.  You see dependence means that I need someone or something else for support, whereas interdependence seemed to give me more of a role.  And while I do think we need to rely on one another, I realize my biggest problem is often letting myself need others, letting myself fully depend on my Creator, who doesn’t need me.  And also there are times when others may need me, but it may seem that is not a mutually dependent relationship–and I don’t depend on the Father to give me grace, energy and love in those times…instead I depend upon my own strength. 

There is a beautiful Zimbabwe saying, “I am because we are.” It is understand our individual identity is deeply rooted in community.  That we need each other.  Sometimes needing each other is awkward.  Sometimes it means that we must walk at an uncomfortably slow pace, take a route that doesn’t seem the most efficient—or even hold hands.  But as we learn what it means to walk with others, we often begin to see more of who we are truly called to be.

So this year, as I think of the word dependence for 2014, it’s a bit scary.  Because let’s face it, I don’t always like to need something beyond myself. Often I’m tempted to run ahead on my own. But I am reminded I am here today because of the many people who have walked with me, and because of a Father who always walks with me.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Cor. 12: 9

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9 thoughts on “One Word: Dependence

  1. That is a great word for the year! I like how you tied in the story of your students with it. It is neat how you formed a parallel of that story to your walk with God.

    • Thanks, Anna! I appreciate the encouragement! And I was encouraged and challenged by your post about satisfaction. I’m glad we can connect through Velvet Ashes and look forward to hearing more about your journey!

  2. Sam and I just read your latest post together. My mom used to tell me when I was in my early twenties that I was too independent. She was talking about me in relation to friends and guys but your story brought me back to her advice. Oh, Sam says the pot stickers look really good in an earlier story!

  3. I really liked the story and how you wrote it :). When you get back, you should write a novel about your adventures in China! I really like how you use the word relating it to God. It really teaches a very good lesson. Thanks for telling us this story!!

  4. Thanks for reading, Aunt Linda, Sam and Olivia! I think it is easy to pride ourselves on independence and miss out on the value (and challenges) of dependence. Tell Sam, the potstickers are really good. You should come visit and try them. And Olivia, we’ll see about the book 🙂

  5. I love your hand holding story and your one word. I saw a huge shift in two of my dearest Chinese relationship when I needed them. It was at a time when I had nothing to offer. I needed them to care for me, and it took our friendships to a whole new (and sweeter) level. Like you said, I like interdependence. The needy state of dependance is harder, but it’s there we find grace!

  6. I could relate to your walk as the women here in Africa walk much slower and I feel like I am always having to stop and wait. I have found that waiting on the Lord is part of depending.

  7. Pingback: Fears and Far Away | Anna in China

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