My kids are like most kids.
They eat, play, learn, and so on and so forth.
They play together for five minutes, then end up fighting for twenty. We spend another ten minutes helping them resolve the issue that started the fighting. It’s usually something like, “He looked at me wrong!” or “She stole my Barbie!”.
On and on and on.
This is normal, right?
After all, I lived in a paradise of peace growing up and never fought with my brothers. We treated each other with the utmost of dignity, respect and love. There were never any punches thrown in our family of four brothers. Never. Never any fights. Or disagreements. (/sarcasm)
One of my children (who will remain unnamed for their protection), has entered into conversations like the following recently:
Dad: “Why did you punch your sister?”
Child: “She made faces at me”
Dad: “They only have one face!” (I learned this one from Evelyn…genius!)
Dad: “So is it right for you to punch her?”
Child: “She started it!”
Dad: “That’s not what I asked.”
Child: “What did you say?”
Dad: “Is it right for you to punch her?”
Child: “She made me! It’s her fault!”
Dad: “So she grabbed your hand and punched herself with your hand?”
Dad: “So then it’s your fault!”
Child: “Noooo! She made me do it!”
All kidding aside…well, I wasn’t really kidding. The above story has been played out multiple times.
It reminded me of the fact that all around me, I see people blaming others for their lack of personal responsibility.
There is always an excuse.
“I grew up poor.”
“I didn’t have a dad.”
“I didn’t get into the right school.”
“I was abused.”
“I was bullied.”
“I was subjected to racism.”
Let me be very clear about something: All of the above situations are very real.
As a youth pastor for eleven years and now as a senior pastor of a church, I have seen the negative effects of many of those things I mentioned above. I have sat in meetings with people while they shared the incredible amount of pain that they have experienced in their lives. I have cried with people and prayed with people.
But that does not remove the responsibility from me for the actions I take. Or you from the actions you take.
I am solely responsible for my choices.
I cannot determine what actions might be taken against me. I CAN determine how I respond to them.
Remember this: the father that some blame for having left the home evaded his own responsibility. The person that made the racist comment is responsible for their comment. The abuser is wholly responsible for their abuse.
So, if they are responsible for their actions, it follows that we are responsible for our actions.
I’m teaching this to my kids.
Let’s all learn this lesson, too.
It’s better that way.