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DIY Gone Too Far

Aug 5 2013
God didn’t create us to do it all ourselves.

We like to do everything ourselves.

From the moment we take our first steps, teetering out of our parents' arms, we spend our lives seeking after independence. At each point, the goal is to do things on our own.

While this quest for independence is more pronounced in our teenage and college years, we also see it creeping up into our lives at nearly every milestone, first as we move out, get married, and begin starting a family, then again as we retire.

As Americans, we have always loved the achievement of independence and the vision of the self-made man. We want financial independence, energy independence, independent movies, and indie rock. It's no wonder our culture has become obsessed with do-it-yourself movement. DIY has taken over, as people across the country proudly do everything from crafting décor and canning jams to coding programs and repairing homes.

With this belief, there's an expectation that we can do it ourselves, or at least learn to. Countless blogs and websites like WikiHow provide tutorials on "how to do anything." A whole industry of books is dedicated to helping us navigate through life. From books on financial planning to dating, Christians can find every answer they need for how to live the good life with a few clicks and page turns.

Even faced with the tough task of welcoming a baby into this world seems a little more manageable when a library of books offer to tell you how to do it. When my twins were born I buried my nose in every sleep-training book recommended, while my very helpful mom, who raised four well-slept children, sat on the couch next to me holding my crying, sleepless baby. Trained by our culture to boldly do-it-myself, I studied the counsel of people who didn't know me or my babies, instead of asking my own mother. That was wrong.

For all the talk about the importance of mentors in the lives of the next generation, many of us younger folk tend to gravitate toward people our own age, both in social settings and the church. We don't purposefully ignore or dismiss the wealth of wisdom offered by those who have gone before us, but our instinct has become to do it ourselves. Learn it. Struggle through it.

Or, in a moment of crisis, we turn to our peers. It's called the "Rehoboam syndrome." Rather than listen to his father's advisors, Rehoboam looked to the advice of his peers instead, and paid for it (1 Kings 12). Let's face it; it is much easier, and more comfortable, to lean on ourselves and our friends rather than our parents or parents' friends. Why would we need to seek out the advice of those older than us when we could just post a question on Facebook or Twitter and get immediate answers from all the other moms, brides-to-be, students, or wives who are right in the thick of it with us? We all commiserate about our problems with the latest book in hand that promises to give us all the answers we need when maybe, just maybe, there is an older, wiser man or woman in our church who can not only give us answers, but hold our hands and tell us everything is going to work out just fine.

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