I love PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. A friend posted on Facebook this morning that it was “National Blame Someone Else Day”. Evidently it falls on the first Friday the 13th of each year. My first thought when I read it was “Isn’t that every day?”
Excuses, excuses, excuses! We all have them. Almost always they put the fault for something that we did on someone else. Maybe your “excuse” has some merit. Maybe it is true. But generally you are somewhat culpable yourself. Generally you hold some responsibility.
There was a watershed moment in my life when I was in my early 20s. I hit a car in a parking deck at work. I didn’t hit it hard, but I did leave a mark. I decided that parking place wasn’t for me, and moved my car. But then I had a decision to make. Remember this is before the day of cameras in parking garages. Not a soul was around. My car was fine. No one would ever know. But yeah….I knew I had to ‘fess up. I went back to the car and left a note. I wrote a full confession, apologized, and left my contact information. I heard nothing all day. I was on pins and needles. Late the next day I get a call from the person I hit. They didn’t care about the damage to the car at all. They refused to let me pay for it. They just wanted to make sure I knew they got the note, and thank me for being honest. Not only was that a great lesson to me in personal responsibility and developing character, but what an example that person whose car I hit was to me about how to treat others. That incident was a personal “line in the sand to me”. It was the moment I swore as an adult, who knew what I was doing, to make an effort to live a life of honesty and integrity. To be an honest person, you have to make the decision to even be honest when it is embarrassing, uncomfortable, expensive, time consuming, or whether anyone will ever know about it or not. It was a big decision for that 20-something, who would have just rather run away and pretend it never happened!
Taking personal responsibility is the secret of living a good and happy life. It’s the secret ingredient…..the usual answer to the question of “So what should I do?”
I often point out to people that the first thing that is required in the Christian faith is the confession that you are a sinner. You…no one else. You can’t follow that with “….but I had bad parents” or “….but I’m not as bad as Kim” or “…but everyone is, right?” Nope….your heart has to recognize that you….alone….without distractions… without anyone else in the equation…..fall short of the mark of perfection. God knows we can’t truly acknowledge him if we don’t have a proper view of ourselves. We have to take responsibility for that sin before it can be forgiven.
We normally can find someone else to blame for much of what goes wrong in our lives. We are misunderstood, we are overlooked, we are unlucky. People are against us, circumstances are against us, fate is against us. But even if all that is true, if we wallow at that place, what does it do but keep us spinning our wheels? To move ahead, to a good place, we need to take responsibility and do what we need to do.
What are you responsible for? The choices you have made in your life….and the lot you have been given.
You have children? You are responsible for giving them a good childhood and for providing for and raising them to adulthood, as productive members of society. That comes before your personal comfort, before your convenience, before your grudge with their other parent. You purchase something? You are responsible for paying for it, even if it means you work extra jobs and eliminate luxuries. You have a job? You are responsible for giving a proper day’s work to your employer, whether all conditions are to your liking or not. You have a family or live in a community? You are responsible for helping meet the needs of those who can’t meet them themselves.
Being a responsible adult is hard. I think we all probably have days when we want to run away from reality and go back to the blissful days of childhood (or for me college…..maximum freedom, little responsibility.) It’s easy to see why we would all rather celebrate “National Blame Someone Else Day”. I believe, though, that for ultimate happiness we need to blame ourselves. We can’t create a change in anyone else, but when we take responsibility for ourselves and our actions, we can start on a path where we can make things happen. Good things. Things that will take the load off, instead of continuing to weigh us down with burdens. I love personal responsibility, because it is the key to a joyful life, a free life. And while that sounds like a paradox, somehow it isn’t.