Freedom Connection

Freedom Keys – Taking Responsibility for Your Life

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Sep 13

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One key on a key ringIn this series of Freedom Keys, I have written about our relationship with God and relationship with others.  Both of these are critical to a life of freedom.

Another [tweet_dis]important key is taking responsibility for our own actions[/tweet_dis].  There are many things for which we must trust God, and also things we can gain from being in relationship with others.  However, we must not forget the key of self-responsibility.  And let me be clear that self-responsibility is not the same as self-dependence.

In brief, self-responsibility is taking ownership of your life, your words and your actions.  Self-dependence is trusting in your own strength rather than looking to God as your source and the One in whom you depend.

We each have a responsibility to take ownership of our lives.  We can either live life:

  • Drifting from one thing to the next, believing we are a victim of life’s circumstances or being a victim of someone’s abuse.

or

  • We can take ownership of our life and our decisions, making us victorious.

Taking responsibility for our own life does not remove God or other people from the equation.  Remember that God does not force Himself on us, but He willingly responds to our invitation, which requires action on our part.  Other people are not responsible for our attitudes, actions and choices.  We cannot control or change other people or undo things they have done to us.  But we are responsible for controlling our own choices and responses.

The first critical point is that we must deal with the hurt and pain that we suffered at the hands of other people.  Many of us have experienced things such as abuse, rape, neglect, or abandonment, even in our childhood. Bad things do happen to innocent people, even children.  It is good to recognize and acknowledge these negative events for the horrors and wrong doing that they are and to be honest with how they have left an imprint on your life.

However, to stop there can leave you still struggling with the idea that you are a victim and with the belief that you cannot move past your pain.

A necessary part of your healing and freedom comes as you honestly acknowledge the pain you have felt as a result of events of your past, even from childhood.  Then you can truly seek the healing you need. Often this process requires the help of a counselor.  Healing is rarely, if ever, a quick or easy process.  And it is a process.

It is important to give the time and effort necessary to find healing and wholeness.  Often our human tendency is to try to put a band-aide on our pain and hope it goes away.  However, this “quick fix” is often only superficial or a cover up for deeper wounds.

In reality, thorough healing comes when we take the time to cleanse the wound, properly care for it and allow it to truly heal.  I will address this in more detail in a future Freedom Key article.  Complete healing will allow you to become a victor instead of the victim.  This journey of healing requires you to be honest with yourself and to take responsibility for your life.

Another critical point is that [tweet_dis]we must take responsibility for our actions[/tweet_dis].  In my own journey, as an adult, I made decisions for which I was very responsible.  I sinned against God and hurt others very deeply.

A comedian from the 1970’s, Flip Wilson, is known for repeatedly saying, “The Devil made me do it!”  Yes, in fact, the Devil does tempt us, but he does not make us do anything.  God gave each of us a free will.  Blaming others for our own poor attitudes, choices and actions began in the beginning of history, in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned for the first time.  God questioned Adam and he blamed Eve, then Eve blamed the serpent.  Isn’t that so consistent with our human tendency?  God asked Adam and Eve, “What did you do?”  He wants us to be honest and admit our actions.  We are to confess them in repentance to God and also to others when that is appropriate.  True repentance is an admission of wrong with an honest desire to change.  This key is very important whether you have come from a background of addiction or not.

If you have been in a lifestyle of addiction, there is no doubt you have wounded other people by your actions.  If you are married, without question you have caused deep, deep pain for your spouse.  Whether you are married or single, your choices have caused pain to those around you.  Let me ask you, who have you wounded?  Your friends and relatives?  Other sexual partners and their families?  Have you visited prostitutes or watched pornography?  Prostitution and pornography are not victimless, harmless activities.  If you have participated in these acts, you have participated in the degradation of other human beings and also added to the huge and growing devastation of sex trafficking.  Our actions have far reaching consequences.

These statements are not intended to bring you shame or hopelessness, but to bring truth and understanding of how you can move toward a healthy lifestyle of freedom.  That lifestyle comes as you become responsible for your decisions, move past the previous bad choices and begin to make healthy decisions in the future.  It is possible for you to have a healthy future – a healthy mindset, making good decisions and having fulfilling and loving relationships.

Take responsibility by recognizing and admitting the pain you have caused and make amends to the best of your ability.  In addition to making amends, allow those around you time to heal.  Just as it takes time for you to heal, their healing will take time also.  If you have a spouse who has been hurt by your addiction, there is no “quick fix”.  The pain a spouse experiences can be excruciating.  Realize that there is a difference between forgiveness and trust.  Forgiveness is a choice, trust takes time to rebuild; you must prove yourself trustworthy.  This will take time, effort and patience.  I have published a series of blog posts that address the hurt and healing of the spouse of a sex addict.

We all have sinned.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  As we each deal with the sin in our lives, there is great value in taking inventory of our lives and allowing God to point out any area where we have not taken responsibility.  This is true whether you come from a past of addiction or not.

When I think of taking responsibility for one’s actions, I am reminded of David, King of Israel.  You may have heard the story of David and Bathsheba.  David was a king, chosen by God, who had achieved many accomplishments.  There came a day when David was faced with temptation and he did not keep His eyes on God.  Instead, he committed adultery with Bathsheba, who was married to another man.  And he did not stop there, which often happens with sin.  To cover up his sin, he ordered Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to be killed.  This just added to David’s sin and ultimately, did not cover anything up.  God sent a prophet named Nathan to confront David concerning his sin.  David’s response to Nathan was, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

The life of [tweet_dis]David shows us both sides to living (or not living) a life of responsibility[/tweet_dis].  At first, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he did not take responsibility for his own sinful actions.  So what happened?  He kept on sinning.  He committed another sin to cover up the first sin.  That pattern is not unusual and may even sound familiar.

After God sent Nathan to confront David, David finally took responsibility for his own actions.  He sincerely repented and became a great King of Israel.  David’s repentance was authentic.  It was not just empty, meaningless words.  It came with a change of heart and actions.

In review, how can you accept responsibility and live in freedom?

  • Own your choices and mistakes.  Honestly admit what you have done.
  • Repent.  Ask God to forgive you and to help you change your attitudes and actions.
  • Receive God’s forgiveness and healing.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Forgive others, even those who abused you or failed you as a child.
  • Make amends with those you have harmed, asking them to forgive you (when appropriate).
  • Rebuild trust in relationships.  This is a process and takes time.  Be patient.
  • Don’t blame others for what is your responsibility.
  • Continue to pursue a lifestyle of freedom in Christ, at all costs.

This article does not address in depth when an apology and asking for forgiveness is appropriate and when it is not.  There are times when an apology and asking for forgiveness would cause more harm to the individuals involved.  There are other times when asking for forgiveness is very appropriate and much needed.  If there is any question in your mind concerning making amends for a past offense, first ask God about it.  But if you are still doubtful about what to do, talk to a mentor or professional about your personal situation.

Taking ownership of your life on a daily basis will:

  • Release you from the pain of your past.
  • Help you to consider the consequences of your decisions before you make them.
  • Not make excuses or blame others when you are responsible.
  • Admit to yourself and to God when you do wrong.  He will help you change.
  • Make amends with others.
  • Seek God each day and look to Him for wisdom and strength.

Taking responsibility for your life will not be the easiest thing you have ever done.  However it is one of the valuable keys that will lead you to a life of freedom.

Scripture:  Psalm 51:10-12

David prayed a beautiful and sincere prayer of repentance recorded in Psalms 51.  This is a prayer that I often pray when I recognize sin in my own heart.  I also use my own words to communicate my heart to God.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

(You can read about King David in the books of 1 & 2 Samuel in the Bible, as well as in many of the Psalms which David wrote.)

A Prayer:  Dear God, I see that I have not taken responsibility for my own life.  I have convinced myself that I am victim rather than doing what is necessary to admit my wrong doing.  I now realize this is my responsibility.  I ask you to help me to rise to the occasion and to become the man/woman You have created me to be.  I ask You to forgive me for neglecting my responsibility and I ask for Your strength and Your wisdom to help me on this new endeavor.  I can do this only with Your help.  I truly want to be the victorious person that You have created me to be, and no longer live feeling like a helpless victim of trauma and abuse.  I trust You to guide me in this healing journey.

God, I also choose to take responsibility for my decisions as an adult.  I have made wrong choices, I have sinned, and I have hurt many people.  I repent and ask your forgiveness.  I ask You to lead me to make amends as necessary.

This isn’t only about my past, God, but also about my present life and my future.  I ask for You to help me to take responsibility for myself daily.  This does not mean doing it on my own, without Your help, but I cannot do this on my own, so I choose to trust You. I invite You into every decision.  I choose to partner, to co-labor with You, through my time here on earth.  I also ask You, God, to help me to recognize, admit and deal with the mistakes and sins that I commit.  Then, please give me the wisdom and strength to do what is necessary to make amends.

I thank You for Your love, Your power, Your healing and Your willingness to be involved in every part of my life.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray.  Amen.

(I encourage you to talk to Him in your own words.  Share your heart with Him.  He loves you and desires to hear what is in your heart and on your mind.)


 

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