Do you know how they say no prisoner is guilty behind bars? This statement was deduced from the fact that when you ask most convicted felons who’s at fault for their being in prison, most go to blame rather than taking personal responsibility for their situation. My question today is how many of us remain imprisoned to our fallen, sinful, human condition because we’ve blamed others rather than take total responsibility for our lives?
Often we think that if we take personal responsibility, we’ll be diminished. As if somehow we’re lessened by being responsible. Yet the reality is that our taking personal responsibility is both liberating and empowering. Taking responsibility gives us the power and removes the victim label from our souls.
It isn’t that you don’t hold others accountable for what they’ve done, or have to deal with offenses done to your person. But when we own our response to our traumas and abuse, we’re given a measure of freedom to pass through it. There’s a grace present when we take responsibility.
Personal Responsibility All My Fault
Now I’m not promoting the neurotic position, which I’ve often taken. Again, offenses come but I don’t have to absorb the wrongs of another as if they were mine. But what I do know is that I’ve often wrongly responded to my abuse and then reaped a windfall of backlash. Instead of digging in to take my pound of flesh through blame, I can liberate my soul by taking personal responsibility for what I have done.
I’ve been meandering through this topic for the last few weeks. I have discussed how my body will register abuse like a scorecard. I’ve showed that when I resist trauma, I’m more likely to increase the wounding than survive it. I have gone into the peace that can be had when I embrace my story. And beyond that, how God’s sovereignty leads me through life crises so I come to know Him. This is not a journey for the faint of heart but the rewards are immense.
Personal Responsibility the Missing Link
The one missing component is taking responsibility for my sinful responses: Bitterness and hatred over forgiveness, rigid control instead of leaning on God, and sinful, indulgent self-medicating rather than surrender and dependence on the Lord. As an unsaved person, God didn’t expect me to respond differently. A sinner sins! But now that I’ve come into my salvation, I’m given the grace to bear this. I can own it.
Our motivation for this is liberty, growth and relationship with God. When we fail to take responsibility, we carry a weight of guilt that’s unbearable. My taking personal responsibility is part of the untethering of my soul from the traumas and abuses of my past. As long as I blame others, I’m linked to the crises and walk handicapped, no matter how strong and healthy I appear to be.
‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
Jeremiah 31:19 NASB