recovery in Christ when life is broken

How To Know If You Are Codependent (according to The Giving Tree)


Giving Tree


The world has long loved The Giving Tree. It was read to me as a child and, now, as a new parent, we received copies (plural) to read to our little boy. I sat in his nursery one night and pulled it from the shelf. But instead of a great story, it read more like a great warning–this is because it is a picture-perfect depiction of the (difficult to define, but easy to observe) struggle we call “codependency.”

Allow me to explain (and destroy a childhood memory of yours)…CLICK HERE for a reading of The Giving Tree by author Shel Silverstein.

Boy meets Tree. Boy swings on Tree = “And the tree was happy.” Teenager wants money + Tree gives apples to sell = “And the tree was happy.” Young man wants a house + Tree gives branches = “And the tree was happy.” Middle-aged man wants a boat + Tree gives trunk = “And the tree was happy.” Old man returns + Tree states it has nothing left to give + Tree offers to be sat on = “And the tree was happy.”

 A few sad observations:

  • The boy only comes around when he wants something. He doesn’t want the tree; he wants what the tree has to offer him. In time, it’s clear: he’s a taker of the tree; not a lover of the tree.
  • The tree is only happy when the boy is around. And the tree can only keep the boy around by giving itself away, to it’s own loss of dignity and eventually destruction.
  • Ironically, the tree calls the male figure “boy” throughout the entirety of the story–which is fitting giving the boyish, lustful, selfishness nature and total disregard for another (even though it is a talking tree, which should probably be cut down for being creepy).
  • In the end, both tree and boy have searched in vain for love in each other and not found it, and yet still with a nasty, old man sitting upon it, that old victimized codependent voice says “And the tree was happy.” Happy being used and abused and manipulated right until it’s a worthless old stump only good for another’s rump.
  • The Giving Tree is no longer a living tree.


A Christian might say, “But aren’t we called to give?” And “Aren’t we called to forgive seventy times seven?” Yes, and we are also called not to have idols (1 John 5:21). To give yourself away to another to earn/keep a person’s love, to lose yourself in another, to become so enmeshed you are no longer whole in Christ alone, is to idol-ize a person and become codependent. Codependent relationships can be defined as: a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.1

So if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wait a second…this all sounds so familiar. I give and give and get nothing in return.” “Why won’t [fill in the blank] love me when all I do is give and forgive them when they hurt me?” Perhaps you, like the tree, are desperately struggling with codependency: giving away yourself to make another happy, because your happiness is dependent on their happiness. But their happiness from what you gave them is fleeting and they always want more of you. And your happiness from them being happy is fleeting and you always want more of them. It’s relationship addiction. It’s codependency. It’s sin that leads to death. They are a parasite and you are a willing host. Sound harsh? It’s much harsher to live it to the bitter end. But…there’s hope.


ONLY Jesus can fill that person's void and your void. Only Jesus can provide eternal satisfaction and joy. Which is why Paul by the Holy Spirit wrote in Acts 17:28, “In God we live and move and have our being.” Not in a lover or any other, but God alone through His son, Jesus Christ–who died for your sins and rose from the dead. Be whole in Christ. People are finding freedom, healing and new healthy patterns through recovery in Christ. Listen to Nancy's story of recovery in Christ from codependency!

So here’s your new memory verse, fellow codependent (aren’t we all at some level?!):

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)


For more information, check out Codependency in the Struggles section of our website.


How To Stop Worrying And Living In Fear

Worry is one of our most destructive human habits. We worry about what people think of us, what will happen tomorrow, health, finances, spouses, children, and jobs. Some of us worry about what’s going to happen the next day, and some of us worry about what’s going to happen in the next year. Many of us can be consumed by worry.

Often, what we worry about isn’t even a reality, but really only a “What if?” Worrying about an endless number of what-if’s that will likely never happen will rob you of joy, peace and the energy you need for today. How would your life change at all—even for a week—if you didn’t worry?

God has a lot to say about worry. The Bible tells us over 300 times not to worry, fear or be anxious! In Matthew 6:27, Jesus points out the futility of worry: “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Clearly, God doesn’t want us to live this way, but how can we stop? God gives the answer in Philippians 4:6-8:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and [appeal] with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

When we are anxious, we focus our attention on ourselves, our capabilities, and our own plans rather than on God, his capabilities and his plans. God is in control—even when it doesn’t feel like it or circumstances don’t make sense to us. He wants us to trust him for the future and live in the present. He loves us, has plans for us, and he knows how we can have peace through difficulties. He want us to focus on things that reflect His goodness. So give thanks, ask God for help, and focus on his goodness in order to trust Him even when circumstances are difficult.



By God’s strength, your life doesn’t have to be filled with worry, anxiety or fear.


“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)


Next time you start to worry, stress or fear, turn to God, give thanks and ask him for help. Read what the Bible says about anxiety and seek godly counsel. 


Dear God, thank you for loving me and helping me. Today, I’m worrying about ___________. Will you help me? Direct my next steps with this situation. If I worry again, please remind me to pray and to make another thankful request to you. Amen.


recovery in Christ when life is broken.