Be a Responsibility Thinker
"The man said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'"1
I'd had a busy weekend and had barely arrived home late one Sunday night when my telephone rang. "Is it convenient for you to talk now?" an all too familiar voice asked.
"I'm afraid it's not," I replied. "I'm exhausted and need to get to bed." Can you call me in the morning?"
But the man didn't stop talking. He began to pour out a tale of doom and gloom. He'd already called me several times and once again was telling me how badly his parents were treating him. He blamed them for all his problems—even though he was a grown man.
Finally I interrupted and said, "Peter, what your parents have done may be terrible, but as long as you keep blaming them or anybody else for your reactions and the difficulties you are having, you will never get better. I know you want them to change, but you can't do that. If you try to, chances are they will only get madder at you. The only person anyone of us can ever change is our self—and as we change, those around us are almost forced to change (not always for the best however). Some people don't want us to change because they want someone to "beat up on" as it were, or gripe about, or to pamper or parent them, or whatever. However, now that we are adults let us never forget that parents or others only do negative things to us if we allow them to.
Admittedly, Peter's case was somewhat extreme, but it does illustrate a very common relationship problem. In a more subtle but just as real way, this is seen in a friend's marriage which is in trouble and the husband writes and asks me to pray for his wife. "She really needs prayer for her problem," he says, but says nothing about his problems!
Ever since Adam and Eve, people have been avoiding personal responsibility and blaming someone else for their problems. So, if I could impart to all people only one truth that has the power to transform their life, it would be this: You are responsible for your reactions, your over-reactions, for what you feel, for what you think, and for what you do. Always in all ways!
True, we weren't responsible for our upbringing and many things that happened to us in the past, but as adults we are now totally responsible for what we do about resolving our past, for what we do about our problems, to our reaction to them, and for what we become and for what we do with our life.
As I often say, God will give us wisdom, guidance and direction if we truly want it, but he won't do for us what we can and need to do for ourselves. If he did, he would be keeping us over-dependent and immature.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me always to be honest with myself and with you, quit blaming others for my responses and my problems, and always be personally responsible for both my actions and reactions in all situations. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Genesis 3:12-13 (NIV).