How ironic! Here it is Thursday morning, and my goal was to post to my blog on Wednesdays. And my topic…running late and the resulting blame game it invites me to play! I just love how God meets me right where I am.
So that being said, the post I’ve painstakingly worked on for the last two weeks about placing blame has become a chapter in my book rather than a blog post.
I’ll do my best to summarize here:
“It’s your fault I’m…[fill in the blank].”
If I’ve heard it once from the mouths of my babes, I’ve heard it a thousand times. This finger-pointing mentality almost seems a natural way in which children interact with their world. Doing so takes the focus off of oneself and his/her responsibility in the situation and shines the light in another direction. Unfortunately, some of us never grow out of it.
Ah, responsibilities! I love that word. I’m no Latin expert—matter of fact, I’ve never taken Latin or Greek—but when I look at the word “responsibility,” I see two things: Response and Ability!
I always joke that with each child we added to my family, my lateness time grew by approximately five minutes per child. Meaning that if I tell you I’ll see you at 3:00, it’ll be closer to 3:20. I’m not proud of it, but I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t seen a trend. Seems like a great excuse, doesn’t it. Blame the kids? But the truth is that I lost my ability to respond appropriately to all my motherly demands. It took me a long time to learn that we could probably take some action steps to change the situation by prepping better, starting earlier to get out the door and leaving enough leeway in our schedule to arrive on time. I would need to take responsibility for this action, and well, that’s hard to do!
In my experience, this holds true in how we choose to live our life. As I referenced in my last post, I’ve had some really bad stuff happen to me. I do not blame anyone for the choices I ended up making in life as a result. How could I? I made them. But that didn’t stop me from trying. I thought for sure it was the way to go. Yes, I’ve been hurt, abandoned and betrayed. I harbored feelings of resentment and bitterness to all of those in my life that had hurt me, and with each new event, the list grew longer. My heart became wounded and full of anger. In turn, I searched the landscape for an easy target in which to land my blame. I grew gifted in doing this, not only with the big things, but also the little things like running late. I pointed a proud finger in every direction…but ceased to acknowledge the three pointing back at me and the role I played in how I chose to respond.
There is a great parable in the book of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 3-5 (NIV):
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
But…but…but…I know, if you are busy mom and the kids ran out the door this morning in a frenzy leaving you with a mess to clean up, it seems justified to blame the kids. After all, mine left out their cereal bowls this morning, tossed towels on the floor in the bathroom and didn’t put their laundry away so now I have to do it for them which will cause me distraction from posting my blog, writing my novel, sitting down to tea this afternoon…But wait, must I do those things for them? I think not. If I do, then they will never learn to take responsibility for themselves and be accountable for their own messes. Who better to help them learn accountability than a parent?
When I was walking around for years in a fog of righteousness acting and thinking I was somehow better than someone else because I wasn’t doing the things they were doing, I missed the opportunity to live a healthy, joy-filled life. Instead, I was just avoiding the reality that I was not behaving very well. I felt pretty crappy about myself and chose behaviors that were not only irresponsible but harmful to myself and others.
Then I discovered God’s love for me. My heavenly Father brought me to a place where I needed to re-learn my ability to respond. He taught me how to pour out forgiveness and compassion on others just as He did for me. He allotted me a huge measure of grace and forgave me for my years of irresponsibility which included being hurtful with my words and harboring bitterness for my pains. What kind of a person would I be if I didn’t acknowledge the pain and hurt in others that might be causing them to mistreat me. God put in me a seed of compassion and helped me to shift my focus on the millions of tiny ways He saw me through those hard times. I needed a little accountability from Him to learn how to respond differently to life. Little by little, He helped me clean up my messes, not by doing it for me, but by lovingly teaching me that I was just as vulnerable as the next guy to cause hurts.
In closing, I hope your take-away for today is not, “I need to clamp down on my kids tonight.” While that is sometimes necessary too, be sure your actions are truly done out of love. If you jump right into trying to point out the flecks in others, you will miss the opportunity to remove that plank or flaw from your life. It wasn’t until God lovingly walked me through the healing process that I wanted to change. I needed to learn a new ability to respond to the things that have happened to me in this world. Receive His love and forgiveness; then pay it forward. The road is hard at first, but it’s worth the effort.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to find someone or some circumstance to blame for this late post, but what good what it do? Besides, the reality of the situation is that I’m the only one responsible for taking action to sit, write and click send.