The first step is to say out loud: “It’s all my fault.” Properly executed, this should undo everything you learned from Good Will Hunting.
I’ve got opportunity and cause to point fingers. I’ve got people who would back me up. On my blog, with my words, I can make my case as sympathetic and compelling as I want. But it’s probably going to be healthier for me and more helpful for you if I point the finger at myself first.
1. I put too much faith in people.
Part of why my faith life is in a tailspin right now is because I entrusted too much of the stewardship of it to imperfect people. I outsourced my responsibilities to a church, to a community of believers, to some leaders. They were steering really well and I was a happy passenger riding along. But the minute something went wrong, I felt victimized, badly managed, and “done wrong.” (Cue harmonica blues tune here.)
I was fist-shakin’, foot-stompin’ mad and I wanted someone to admit fault. I tried to “file a claim” as if all of these people were a spiritual insurance company. However, it seems that when I went to draw on the policy I thought I had purchased, my claim was refused. The company had no intention of cutting any recompense checks. Responsibility fell solely on me. That’s where it was always supposed to be. So really no one did anything to me as much as I allowed it to be done myself.
“Age ten, I began to understand
That throughout life there would be no end to strugglin’.
But then again, man, what can you comprehend
With no one to trust or on whom I could depend
But here I am
Now stands an adult
I gotta be responsible
And it is my fault
For my present situation
Even though I wasn’t taught on how to handle what I’m facin’
I’m gonna make it happen
Today is now, so now’s become my destination
Waitin’ on the voice of God for where to go and
‘I’ll put my hope in You,’ I’ll say to no man.”
— John Reuben, “Rest Easy“
2. Why spend mine when I can spend yours?
If I’m brutally honest, I’ll admit I’ve never been interested in caring for myself spiritually. Among the many things I insist on having control of, I’ve rarely sought to be captain of my own soul.
As much as I pride myself on being intelligent, I don’t like to read as much as I like to be seen reading. I do not have a burning passion to study the Bible, its contexts, history, and detailed application. I do not have the attention span to spend much more than 30-45 minutes in prayer at a time when I do so at all.
I do not recall any enrapturing moments of intimacy with God where I was caught up in a cloud of glory and shown a life-altering glimpse of Heaven’s green room where I saw Mahalia Jackson gargling hot tea and honey before going on stage to belt out “Here I Am To Worship” before Jesus and his award-show-posse of angels.
I’m simply not that type of guy. Nor have I ever pretended to be. I was really okay with offloading the burden of that maintenance to people who are that type. And though I have an established history of lazybastardry, it’s sink-or-swim now. And I’m not ready to die yet.
3. Get a mop and get to work.
Once, I was really hurt by a perceived slight. As was typical for the time, I found the offender, and I let them have it with both barrels. Their response was to apologize for the way I felt, but still to assure me I had entirely misunderstood the situation. They were pleading “not guilty” of the crime I had charged them with and not budging on it.
I felt so sandbagged. It was as if hoodlums had vandalized my corner store in a smash-and-grab and gotten away scot-free. I couldn’t prove guilt, I couldn’t seek justice. All I could do was get a mop and start cleaning up the mess.
“But that’s not fair! I didn’t do it! I shouldn’t have to take responsibility for it!”
It’s not fair at all. But only children expect fairness. It burns me that some reckless criminal escaped unpunished. And yet I can sit and wait forever, but no one else is coming to take responsibility for a mess left on my property. Whether I created it or not, the mess is mine.
If my desire to pursue, prosecute, serve justice, and get revenge is the strongest, then I’ll hold on to this until I find someone who would pay for it. But that quest could last forever, or worse, the blame could land on the back of some other innocent person. But if it’s more important for me to move on and get back to normal, then I’ll let it be just another “thing” that happens in a day so that tomorrow we can get back to business as usual.
“I too have been hurt by those who claimed to show the way
It was crazy their two faces like night and day
But you don’t stop believing ’cause you’ve once been burned
In everything there’s a lesson learned.”
— Out of Eden, “If You Really Knew“