Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3:5-6
There is a lot of fear, pain, and wrong thinking rattling around in the narrative of codependents. As you’ve probably figured out, none of the outcomes have fairy-tale endings to them—no matter how good the rationale.
Most of us have heard the saying, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” Codependent people tend to have a couple variations on this theme. They are either frog kissers or frog kickers.
A codependent who is a frog kisser thinks he or she can love their dependent person enough to get them healthy and produce the necessary, spell-breaking change. The kisser is convinced that there is a beautiful prince or princess underneath the dependent’s ugly exterior, and once that addict is rescued, both of their lives will be great.
On the other hand, a frog kicker is one who becomes controlling. Realizing that they’ve kissed the frog enough already and no change has been produced, the kicker determines it is time for a swift kick in the froggy butt. What will the dependent frog do? Like any frog naturally would, he or she will hop. The problem is that froggy will only hop until out of boot range . . . then the movement will stop.
Up until now, the frog hasn’t felt the need to move, so the codependent person feels “responsible” for the frog’s change. The kisser is afraid of what might happen if they don’t save or help take care of the frog. Sure, the kicker cares about the little amphibian. He or she may even spiritualize their own behavior—feeling like they are doing what is best for the frog—but the bottom line is really about the frog kicker, not the frog. Though subtle, what is driving the kicker’s behavior is fear.
Sound familiar? Whether you are a coddling “frog kisser” or tough love “frog kicker,” if you want to steer clear of the lily pond altogether, check your motives before helping out. Otherwise, your efforts could result in a misplaced allocation of mercy. More on that in a future blog.
Wondering how can mercy be misplaced, before my next book comes out? Keep watching here for future blogs. Or, get a copy of The Weight of Leadership: How Codependency and Misplaced Mercy Undermine Life and Ministry when it releases September 2022.