Codependent Cookie Cutter Christian
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
At church, we may see codependent people all around us. Let’s unpack the stereotypes we may lump into a specified cookie cutter shapes of these people we may encounter:
Mally—Mally is over malleable; she will shapeshift, becoming anything for a neighbor in need. I watched a video “You never know how much good you do.” The main character, who we could call Mally says “yes” to every favor she’s asked to do, pushing aside her own needs, and in the end, suffers emotionally. In the end, we’re supposed to feel good because she helped so many people, never mind how bad she felt. This pattern didn’t seem to be an exception in her life: she always would help anyone anyhow. And lose herself in the process. [Mally is Codependent Dependent Passive.]
Matty (Mally’s twin)—Matty fits the Matrix of what she should do, and she doesn’t say what they really thinks. As an attempt to fit within the norm, she stops herself from thinking anywhere outside the parameters of the norm. If the group scrapbooks, she becomes a scrapbooker even if she hates it. If it’s the thing to volunteer in the schools, she joins in—whether or not she wants to. She brings cookies to the new move-in--everybody’s doing it. In church classes, she learns to keep her differing opinions to herself: someone will call her out as incorrect if she does. Soon, Matty believes these are really her opinions—so she can fit in. When a newcomer shares their differing opinion, they learn by the silence around them that they overstepped an unwritten boundary of “fit in.” She feels like a statue, hoping not to offend or defect. And she wonders why those around her can’t figure her out. (She has no definition; ironically, despite the cookie mold, the cookie dough seeps out all over.) [Matty is another form of Codependent Dependent Passive.]
Chieko Okazaki said, “Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” [or have an opinion] is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.”
Marnie—Marnie is a go-getter! People flock to her to know what to do next. She delegates, oh, so well; Relief Society President is a breeze. She feels it her place to set people straight; when someone isn’t doing it right, she steps in no matter how tactless. What she doesn’t understand about herself is that by remaining in ultimate control, she buries the fact that if she weren’t in control; she’d be completely out of control, completely not ok with herself. Not to mention the supposed insufficiencies she draws out of those she “helps” making them not ok either. [Marnie is Codependent Dependent Rescuer.]
Molly—Molly places all her value on her station--(Molly Mormon)—and her good works. How high a church calling can she aspire? How many lists can her name be seen for her volunteering? What kind of recognition can she receive and “humbly” accept? How many correct answers can she answer in Sunday School? (And more “importantly,” how many people look to her for the answers?) [Molly is Codependent Independent Worldly Failure.]
Maggie (Molly’s big sister)—Maggie is magnanimous--she can’t be seen a failure. If she even lets on that her Christianity is seeming a failure, how can she say the gospel is working for her? It’s almost sacrilege to say everything she’s been doing for righteousness isn’t yielding the results she expects. So she plasters a smile on her face, presents her life as roses, and fights against anything that shows she isn’t “making it.” But when all her guard is down, you might find Maggie drowning in her inability to handle life as she’s failing to manage (but certainly can’t let on!). She suffers and holds strong and appears immovable. “What dedication!” everyone exclaims. “She is a strong one,” and they add more responsibility onto her shoulders. But that’s ok. Perhaps the outward success will prove her inner worth. (Until she cracks.) Few are the times we hear women mentioning when they feel a failure, though they offer plenty advice on how to do things “right”! Where is the space to share imperfections? Others may label her a complainer or incompetent if she does share. But where can she be real? [Maggie, like her little sister, is Codependent Independent, Worldly Failure].
Miley—Miley is ever willing to go the second mile—or twenty. She remains submissive to authority no matter what: she doesn’t question what’s asked of her, and she tries to surpass their requests to prove her worth. She stands ultra committed, counting on the authority’s approval as paramount to her feelings of self-worth. And these leaders deliver: they comment on her dedication and faith in her service efforts—and reward her with more. “Keep strong in the ‘faith!’ This will enable you to do more than you can on your own!” [Miley is Codependent Independent, Worldly Success; Workaholism.]
Mary—Mary cleaves unto their spouse no matter what. She covenanted to become one with her husband. In the company of others, he will always be correct because that is “cleaving” (leaving herself behind). Mary assumes becoming one means understanding the thoughts of her husband enough to know what he’s thinking so she can please him. She abandons her own thoughts, assuming if he is doing the same for her, he should also know what she is thinking. In times of miscommunication, because she doesn’t want her husband perceived as “not one with her” or unloved, she will misrepresent herself to let him be the correct one no matter what. What he says is the final say (as head of the house). He is dominant and domineering because he has someone eating out of his hand. And she can’t bite the hand that feeds her, so she continues doing whatever he wants. And loses herself! [Mary is Responsibility Avoidance; Irresponsible and Procrastinating.]
(Note: due to the human tendency for freedom, Mary will continue this façade on the outside, but either seethe on the inside, or numb out to ignore her sense of self—and probably both. She may attempt to be subservient, but inside she will rebel in one way or another.) When she feels there is no way out to extricate herself from this “cleaving,” she swings from anxious to depressed due to not honoring herself.)
Millie—Millie is never to blame for anything that goes wrong. Millie is so sweet. Until you get with her around a table of ladies enjoying their refreshments. Then she becomes a gossiper, throwing vindictive and spiteful barbs against anyone that doesn’t do her bidding. Those who can see through her feel like they’ve been thrown back into the high school cliques system. She isn’t one to be trusted, because ultimately, she doesn’t trust anyone else, including herself. [Millie is a Codependent Relationship Avoidance, the Victim.]
Markell—Markell knows how to shape her cookie differently. She has stopped identifying herself from her experiences, and instead identifies with God’s love. She remembers that though God’s gospel is correct, the church is run by imperfect people. Also, God’s love isn’t conditional on whether or not she does something right or wrong in the church. God’s love remains unconditional no matter what she does. And a different opinion doesn’t mean she’s sinned; it’s just that—an opinion. God knows what Markell, and every other human can become: unconditional lovers. When we or anyone else doesn’t fit the cookie cutter condition correctly, that’s a clue other shapes can and do work. [Markell is Healthy Interdepedency.]
If we love God first, we can be less concerned about what others think. Loving God first means checking in with Him often: “Does this leader or friend speak the truth for me?” “What is the spirit telling me is correct here—am I bold enough to proclaim what the spirit whispers?” “Just because everyone else does it, can I love myself enough to do what honors me best?”
If something doesn’t feel right, search for a second witness through the spirit of truth. I believe the gospel has many levels and interpretations, and to insist on one shows a superficial belief system.
Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph 5:25). The church, and hence, the world are filled with a billion differences. To try to fit “the mold” does a disservice to the Lord as the creator of your uniqueness. We are to love everyone as Christ does, no matter if they are a Mally, Matty, Marnie, Molly, Maggie, Miley, Mary, or Millie.
If you are any of these M women, set your priorities of love, remembering the Two Greats. If any of these M’s drive you crazy by their self-defeating tendencies, know that by becoming a loving person, if you are ok with who you are and that God’s love matters most, I can guarantee you have enough love to let them be however they will be, and it’s ok.
Because God loves and accepts all people, and expects them to love themselves as they love others, there’s no place for a Cookie Cutter Christian.