Ashlie Miller: Beyond Independence

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2024

By Ashlie Miller

When did the idea of dependency become a weakness? Having several dependents looks good on tax forms. Having multiple children in public will get you lots of looks. But being dependent marks you as “weak.”

Besides, who can you depend on today anymore? Aren’t most of us self-obsessed, entitled consumers anyway? I am of a jaded generation with many cynical observations.

It is easy to slip into that mindset. Many churches sit empty or near decline because of this perception. We assume that churches are filled with hypocrites that are self-centered. And some are. Some. But there is also a community unmatched by anything outside of Christ.

I am regularly astounded upon meeting other Christians while on vacation or connecting with neighbors who are also like-minded and our ability to communicate on a level that is unlike any other relationship. We sense that we are more than passing strangers. There is a bond that connects us that is unexplainable and deeply relatable.

My husband and pastor often says as he looks out on the church congregation, “The answer to your prayers may be sitting in the seat next to you.” I bear witness to it on many occasions. Ladies in my discipleship groups needing direction, a job or answers for their health share their concerns. God answers their prayers through the counsel of those around them, sometimes with actual provisions. The family suffering grief, job loss or prolonged illness and disease sees the church family rally around them with prayers, encouragement and offers of tangible help.

It can be hard for me to admit when I need to depend on someone — trust issues, past hurts and pride. Yet, when I share my needs, concerns and doubts with those in the faith, I am blown away by how God meets me there. It may be with a young lady who has yet to experience anything on the path I have walked down, sitting across from me with wide eyes filled with hope, listening with empathy and ready to remind me with verses she has read and fills her with promise. Sometimes, an older lady senses the season I am in, perhaps recalling her own time in that season, and gives me that knowing look, a hug and a whisper. Other times, a text appears on my phone: “I am sending you a meal this week. I heard your hubby is traveling, and the week is pretty overwhelming.” Very often, the words from my pastor behind the pulpit, whom I have seen preach to himself or live the message in our home, encourage me.

Friend, lay aside your preconceived notions that you must independently figure it all out. Even with Jesus as your guide, He regularly uses others to provide our needs materially and emotionally. And He wants to use you to help provide the needs of others. We were not meant to be an island, maybe more like an isthmus.

Ashlie Miller and her husband, Chad, are recipients and givers of grace among their church family at Mission Bible Church in Charlotte.

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