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Posts Tagged ‘blame’

head in the sandHow often do we blame someone else for our situation? In the extreme, it’s a victim mentality, but in small doses, it’s a type of laziness. If it’s not my fault, I don’t have to do anything about it. I also call it a “head in the sand” approach to life.

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, the one who troubles Israel?”
Elijah answered, “I haven’t troubled Israel; you and your father’s house have! You did as much when you deserted the Lord’s commands and followed the Baals. [I Kings 18: 17-18, CEB]

A young friend of mine demonstrated the extent to which blame can be stretched. Apparently, he had checked out a video game from the library and lost it or misplaced it or loaned it to someone else (I don’t really know the details). Since I work at the library, I know how these things work: a series of emails or texts or phone calls go out to the patron alerting them to a potential fine. At some point, the item is coded as lost and the patron’s cost jumps from a fine to a full replacement cost of the item (this takes several we reached my friend for his lost video game. He was livid at the cost: $75! And the next statement? It’s all that librarian’s fault for making me get a library card. His anger justified because it wasn’t his fault. He’s not the first library user to blame staff for fines and fees.

A more egregious example happened to my own daughter, who we adopted at fifteen and assumed she was an orphan since we had death certificates on both of her parents. Instead, it turned out the birth mother had hit the skids and lost all of her identity papers and did not surface again until some two years after our teen was adopted. And of all things, it was on Russian Facebook that they found one another. But instead of joy of discovery, the mother blamed our daughter for her losses and literally said, “If you hadn’t left, none of this would have happened.”

blameThese stories sound outrageous but are we any better? Am I? How many times have I kicked a chair after I ran into it or cursed a tree limb that connected with my head or bad talked the bank when my check bounced? And of course, while driving, it’s always the other guy!

The first step in changing the rules of the blame game is to identify the moment. If I can catch myself (that means close my mouth before the words come out), I might even be able to stem off the worst of it. And only then do I have even a hair’s breath of chance to figure out why I am passing the buck. Am I afraid of how I will be perceived by others? Do I feel that taking responsibility will diminish me? Does it make me feel better to shift the blame to another person?

In and of itself, the word “blame” has a negative connotation. It carries accusation and condemnation. Just the word alone feels like a burden. And I’m thinking that’s the problem. Instead of shifting the blame, it may be that the paradoxical Christian thing would be to simply accept responsibility (when true) and give God a chance to work with the truth.

Taking responsibility when we err is no fun, but its merits outweigh the negatives in the long run. It’s part of the learning curve and character building. I am not encouraging anyone to become a scapegoat or to become a martyr, taking the weight of guilt when it’s not ours to take. But when our own mistakes and choices bring consequences, then we must confess that truth to ourselves first and thereby invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to bear it and eventually change.

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Adam said it was the woman’s fault for giving him the fruit (and maybe a little bit God’s fault for giving the woman in the first place). Eve blamed the Serpent who deceived her. Interesting, though, the Serpent is silent.

Genesis 3:11b-13
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

I’m assuming the Serpent knew what was up from the beginning. He expected retribution. He had counted the cost. So, however he might have looked in the garden, the Serpent was ever changed, and most interesting, for whatever reason, the relationship between the Serpent and woman would be one of enmity. I find that fascinating. The implication is that the relationship could have been something else had everything gone the other way. But what?

What was the Serpent’s true nature? In the same way that Jesus brought Judas Iscariot into his sphere of influence, so did God bring the Serpent into the garden. There was opportunity for them to choose differently, to want something else, to be reached.

We are quick in this culture to lay blame as well. This week is election week. All media outlets from news programs to Facebook are afire with political mumbo-jumbo. And usually, it’s one side finding fault with the other, somehow thinking if enough aspersions are thrown out there, their own missteps will be ignored.

In reality, we have all eaten the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and as a result, we spend far too much time looking at “not-God” instead of looking for what is good and right. The ancient aphorism speaks well here: Know Thyself. It’s so important to remember that our eyes are corrupted.

Open my eyes to see like you, to understand with Godly wisdom, to bring grace into every situation and conversation, to clearly bring myself to the situation. As a follower of Christ, I bring God to every table, to every discussion, to every contemplation. That’s part of the covenant I made.

I must accept blame for the part I play in my world.

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