08 Nov Responsibility Fuels Healthy Dependence
College is a season in life when you have the most independence and the least responsibility.
Over the past three and a half years, I’ve found that statement to be entirely true. I would suggest that you could replace the word “independence” with “energy” and keep the same validity.
During my freshman year of college, I stayed incredibly “busy”. In between midnight Cook Out runs, intramural sports, campus ministries, camping out for football tickets, and trying to become best friends with three thousand new people, I barely had time to sleep.
Later, in my sophomore and junior years, the shenanigans settled a bit, and I decided to put more time towards developing my friendships. While I am beyond thankful for these friendships, I began to notice a pattern in the way many girlfriends and I spent our time. Over time, hanging out began to look like sitting around, scrolling through social media, pausing only when we had reached a picture on Instagram that would give us something new to chat about. Our aimless chatter would spiral into gossip, complaints, and comparison.
In the course of a few minutes, the conversation would escalate from “Look who posted a picture together—I didn’t even know they were dating!” to “How is she going on these awesome dates and yet here I sit alone in this apartment? This is unfair.”
“Our aimless chatter would spiral into gossip, complaints, and comparison.”
Embarrassingly, that’s where the conversation would land. These conversations became like clockwork, pointing out others’ beautiful lives on social media—beautiful outfits, homes, vacations, jobs, friends, and relationships and then comparing them to our own, fueling discontent with our words. With little real responsibility and plenty of opportunity, I found myself spending hours in ankle-deep, self-focused conversations that fed frustration and discontent.
It wasn’t until someone pointed it out to me that I realized these conversations were partially a product of where I’d chosen to invest my time and energy. Since it only took a fraction of energy to go to class, study, and be involved in a few other activities, there was an excess overflowing, with no clear channel or destination.
“These conversations became like clockwork, pointing out others’ beautiful lives on social media—beautiful outfits, homes, vacations, jobs, friends, and relationships and then comparing them to our own, fueling discontent with our words.”
Having more energy than responsibility creates opportunity for that energy to be corrupted because the excess will likely, without gentle guidance, not be directed toward anything productive or fruitful.
This leftover energy often restlessly stirs up self-focused thoughts and conflicting emotions, which give fuel to our prone-to-wander hearts.
“Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.”—2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
Paul noticed trends of excess energy and idleness among the people in the early church. This idleness produced meddling, and his response was to tell them to go to work instead.
“Having more responsibility than energy allows us to work hard in a way that requires dependence on God for strength and perseverance.”
My natural bent after recognizing this imbalance was to find a balance in energy and responsibility instead. However, putting more on my plate, but only enough for me to handle, leaves me striving to manage on my own; little faith is required in a polished, balanced life.
However, there is a third option. After spending a summer working a little more than full-time, managing a load of responsibility I’d never experienced before, I realized the difference. After each week, my energy would be low, too low for gossip or meddling to be attractive to me, too low to feel like I was in control and succeeding at the tasks in front of me. For the first time, I woke up each morning having to ask God for strength to move in the day ahead. And at the end of the day, I sought rest and refuge in Him, not out of my own righteous inclination, but because I was just tired. I couldn’t rely on my own abilities.
Having more responsibility than energy allows us to work hard in a way that requires dependence on God for strength and perseverance. As we begin to see our weaknesses and need for Him in light of His power and glory, we will move and grow toward Him.
What are you responsible for in this season, and how much energy do you have left over? Where are you investing your energy?
Audrey is a Clemson student and big fan of warm weather, fall hikes, and anything sweet. You will most likely find her sipping on coffee, laughing off her awkward moments, and spending time with her family and friends. Audrey attends our Powdersville campus.