In the “She kicked over my bucket” blog, I mentioned a few times that I “let” my friend do some unkind things to me. At the time, I never would have admitted that I had had any responsibility in what had happened to me in the aftermath emotionally or spiritually. I definitely blamed her and took the posture that I had been hurt, that I was the victim and that it wasn’t fair. Then, I read a book entitled The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews that changed my thinking.
The main character in the book meets historical figures and receives gifts from them in the form of seven decisions that will help him get out of the slump that he has found himself in. The first gift in determining personal success is the responsible decision, which declares, “I accept responsibility for my past. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. I am responsible for my success. The buck stops here.”
This decision irritated me because it didn’t allow me to take comfort in blame or in feeling sorry for myself. Passing the buck only weakened my power to change my thinking and actions. And, having a pity party only decreased any chance I had of future success. I was being challenged to take responsibility for where I was at, and that was a hard pill to swallow.
The dictionary defines responsibility as “being accountable for something.” When my kids experience conflict or hurt, my husband and I are trying to teach them that, “It isn’t what they did to you that is important, it is your response that counts.” So then, the question becomes, “What am I accountable for?” I don’t get to complain and say, “but… they did ‘such and such’ to me!”
Responsibility is also defined as “a thing that one is required to do as part of a job or role.” I have several roles in life. I’m a follower of Jesus the Messiah. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a friend. God and the people around me expect me to do what is required of me, to make the right, healthy choices. My roles demand that I think and act with maturity and reliability. There is no luxury in letting things get worse over time.
Responsibility additionally possess an element of control. Though I didn’t have any control over what my friend did to me, I had full control of my choices thereafter. Control means “the power to influence or determine the behavior or supervise the running of.” I certainly have the power to direct my own behavior, thoughts and attitudes, but in order to do these things effectively, I first had to accept responsibility for where I was.
One of the first steps in the healing process for me was to look the annoying truth in the face and accept it: the buck did stop here, and it was my responsibility to do something to change the things I didn’t like about my life. When I realized that my choices were what caused me to be on a path that I didn’t like, I could then make the choices that would lead me to a place I did like. And…. I like the place I am in today.
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