Reflection: It’s Not My Fault!


“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”

Proverbs 19:3 NLT

When we find ourselves in trouble, we often have a long list of people we blame.

We fault the people who have hurt us.

We fault the people who didn’t jump in to save us.

We fault God for allowing it to happen.

One emphasis of recovery programs is taking responsibility for our own actions.

We may be exiting toxic relationships.

We may have been mistreated by other people.

But there were, in most cases, decisions we made that put us in the situations we ended up in.

  1. We chose to ignore the red flags and enter that relationship.
  2. We chose to hire that person based on talent and overlook issues of character.
  3. We chose to build friendships with people who demanded we not grow, or conform to their limiting or distorted worldview. We expected they would change.
  4. We chose to get involved with someone who had a history of mistreating their sweethearts. We expected we would be different.
  5. We chose to do business with someone who didn’t keep their word and swindled their customers. We expected we would be different.
  6. We chose to work for people who mistreated their staff, or in corporate cultures that demanded sleazy favors as the price of advancement. We made excuses for those leaders or cultures as they devoured our colleagues one by one.  We expected we would be different.

That said, toxicity and self-sabotage can easily co-exist.

I took several jobs in my teens and twenties where I saw my own bad work habits become problems. I also at times saw that I was working with lunatics. Better habits might have allowed me to bypass chaos. Instead, I brought trouble on myself because I didn’t know how to deal with people.

Ministry involves dealing with people. A colleague of mine used to argue that God had established a living curriculum of “special souls” arranged to teach every willing servant key lessons. He said we’ve all dealt with the same problem people. Maybe some of us have been the problem people. And until we master the lesson and individual presents, we don’t move to the next.

Until you know how to handle a bully, you will find them everywhere. The same is true of con artists, manipulators, instigators, sycophants, insecure leaders, bitter surrogates, entitled customers and a host of other poison personalities.

It's not unlike a video game: you have to beat the boss to advance to the next level

When I was 13, I played a lot of Nintendo. And I spent a minute flummoxed by King Hippo in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out before figuring out how to defeat him. Until you learned his moves, he was unbeatable. Once you did, he was easy to overcome.

But that had no consequences, whatsoever, except extra game time.

The problem is that a lot of us in life fight King Hippo, learn how to beat him, and then:

  1. Go back to fighting him, with the wrong approach.
  2. Find other King Hippos, despite knowing that they don’t help us.
  3. Think we have endless time to spend.
  4. Blame other people for our King Hippo fighting lifestyle.

Some of us need to recognize we are more than Queen Hippo. We are more than Little Mac.

Until we accept that, we may end up stuck in an endless fight.

Here are some relationship questions to answer:

  1. Why am I choosing to be loyal to people disloyal to me?
  2. Why do I keep investing in charisma over character?
  3. Why do I try to protect people from the consequences of choices they are happily making?
  4. Why am I breaking myself trying to preserve something other people don’t want preserved?
  5. Why do I ignore the principles of success, and still expect to win?
  6. Why am I not developing and using my gifts in ways that add value to the world?
  7. Why do I keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result?
  8. Why do I blame God for my choices?

Our anger at people may make some sense. After all, despite our poor judgment, and lousy choices, they may have manipulated us and gained our trust under false pretenses. They may have exploited our vulnerabilities for their own gain. And the results may have been injurious. But God is not a liar. He has nothing but the best intent for me. And the problems I end up inevitably involve ignoring his leading and going my own way. So why be mad when ignore the GPS, and my own stubborn moves lead me to a dead end? Why blame God when I took four left turns and ended up in the same place I started?

Today is a good day to try something new.

And today is a good day to own the choices we make in trying it.

(Photo Credit: Liza Sumner)


Reflection: Embracing Change

Are our definitions of normal limiting us? How can we improve our responses to change?

Reflection: Free Yourself

Are your own choices imprisoning you?

Reflection: Living in the Light

Can we live authentically and leave the performances behind?