I was raised within the Christian tradition and sometimes I get angry at how Christianity is sometimes used as an excuse for personal inactivity. In my work as a therapist, I have noticed how a few clients have resorted to using God as their get-out-of-jail card and I find it disappointing. Someone is experiencing difficulty at home or at work –then it has to be “God’s will”. We might wish that it is really an act of God but usually the underlying and often unrealized motive is just avoiding taking and facing responsibility for what went wrong in our lives. It’s an easy quick fix.
Are You Hiding in the Garden?
You can apply this Band-Aid plaster to shield yourself from exposing your own wound. It’s much simpler to apportion responsibility to an almighty power. You don’t have to question yourself and your own actions. You could say this kind of behavior mimics that of Adam when he hid from God after eating the apple in the Garden of Eden. Martin Buber expands on this behavior saying:
“Adam hides himself to avoid rendering accounts, escape responsibility for his way of living. Every man hides for this purpose, for every man is Adam and finds himself in Adam’s situation. To escape responsibility for his life, he turns existence into a system of hideouts.”
While every situation is not as heavy a burden as Adam’s, this tendency of “hiding” is often used to escape the responsibilities in our lives.
What Are You Waiting for?
The Bible does say that all lives belong to God (Ezekiel 18:4) but it never said that the responsibility of our lives is not with us (Galatians 6:5). Many people are just waiting for God to drive their inner lives. They focus on God’s grace as the solution and not their own hard work.
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Human beings naturally choose the path of least resistance and find it much easier to say that God has better plans waiting in the wings for them than face the reality of their current situation. Instead, it would be more conducive to investigate what went wrong in your life and try to find ways to fix it. If you can’t solve the problem that happened in the past you can take note of what actions are required to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. It can be scary to stand behind every choice you make because it means taking “ownership” of your actions and the resulting consequences.
“There is no such things as a wrong choice, it can only be wrong in retrospect when we attempt to assign responsibility for our decision elsewhere, we may appear vindicated, but we are drenched with guilt and doubt.” Satre
What Is God’s Plan for You?
I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t trust God with our lives. My opinion is that it is vital to find out what plans God has for us, we should not be passive participants in the steps to our own redemption. You have a say in your life and we have received these God-given gifts for a reason. I believe God wants me to be an active participant and not sit back and wait for everything to just happen for us. I had a professor who always used to say:
“There is only one way to peace, and it is to say over and over “This is me.” To do so is immensely courageous because it is to face one’s self.”
To truly face Christ is to face what we have done and haven’t done. Are you holding any shame around your life actions to date? You need to engage in self-reflection in order to answer this question. God doesn’t have to answer it, but rather you who is required to answer to him otherwise we are just hiding away from him like Adam did in the Garden of Eden.
Accepting Your Part
Those who outsource their choices to God, as well as the responsibility for the consequences, are essentially operating in “bad faith”. In my therapy session, I try to encourage acceptance of one’s part in a situation. If you can do that then you can be part of finding the solution to the dire circumstances in your life. Often times it lies within the intensity of feeling that ones is coming into. This also helps us to find different behaviors that better serve us in the future. There is a definite appeal to laying everything at God’s feet because it lets us off the hook.
It is terrifying to accept your part in the failures of your life. But when we look inwards and take responsibility for all of our actions it is like being birthed into a new self, in a new world with a new worldview. We can now see the world through the personal lens of how we impact it not the other way around.
“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Looking for Excuses
Your life situation is not due to someone else’s fault or “God’s will” –you and only you are responsible for your life. If you can embrace this concept you will definitely welcome more joy and ease in your life especially when the going gets tough. It’s easy to find excuses for every problem you’ve ever had. You can spin a story that gives you a get out jail free card. You know those tired old excuses you use every time to when you have engaged in bad behavior? You have used them so many times they start to sound rehearsed. Excuse be gone!
Be vigilant about your actions and the excuses you use to explain them away otherwise you could find difficulties at home and at work. Rather cultivate the habit of habit positive thinking. In every uncomfortable situation ask yourself, “am I blame shifting?”. When you embrace that you are responsible for the choices you make you hold more control of your self and your future.
When disastrous life events happen, you can always choose how to react to them. Challenges and trail are always opportunities to learn and grow as a human being. You are in the driving seat. You’re in charge. You are charting the course of your own life. What we do in life, matters.
You matter, your thoughts matter, your choices matter.
“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” – Dr. Wayne W Dyer