It’s a tough pill to swallow, but most of us have only one person to blame for the tough times we go through: Ourselves. As Zig Ziglar reminds us, when we point a finger of blame, there are three fingers pointed right back at us.
My wife and I had ministered to a woman I’ll call “Peggy” who was coming out of a lesbian relationship. The poor lady had been “given” by her mother to an older man from ages 9 to 12. Later, her mom married the man herself. At 43, Peggy’s “ex” had just filed a restraining order against her and that’s when we met and took her into our home. Her “ex” was later evicted herself. The landlord allowed Peggy inside to collect her belongings and she was shocked to find the place virtually empty.
Peggy was flabbergasted that anyone could be so cruel to another person. “Just when I was finally getting my life together, all of a sudden I have nothing again!” she bawled.
How quick we are to blame the other guy. We ask aloud, “But I’m a nice person. Why would anyone treat ME that way?”
After my own divorce, after my spouse not only cheated but had that man’s baby before divorcing me, the best decision I ever came to, with God’s help, is that the whole thing was MY fault. I owned up to that truth and grew up as a result. People only have the power over us that we give them.
Over the years, many who’ve heard my testimony have asked, “How could that have been YOUR fault?” Let me explain: Life is cyclical, NOT linear. We don’t live from event to un-related event. No, it’s a ever-ending cycle of reaping and sowing. When I think back at the many opportunities with which God presented Himself all my life… when I consider my lifestyle in college where I met my first wife… when I look back at how I missed the opportunity to be a true spiritual leader in my own home…when I recall what a poor nurturer of my own marriage I was and how many soul-ties I created with other women in the workplace – no sexual affairs, just so much sharing I had nothing left for my wife after work… when I took all into account that which took place BEFORE her affair, it became quite easy to accept blame and, subsequently, easier to forgive her and move FORWARD in my relationship with God.
“Father, forgive her, she didn’t know what she was doing” became an easy prayer to pray. “Father, give me the grace to forgive her” became NECESSARY if I were ever to grow in my faith.
Sure, I accepted blame. I accepted my responsibility. Just as importantly, I FORGAVE myself. I didn’t know what I was doing either. The ways that seemed right to me led to my own destruction. I saw my desperate need for a Savior and recognized I already had one! In the early stages of any offense, it’s natural to play the blame game.
“They did this!”
“Woe is me!”
“Shame on them!”
Too often, I see people whose countenance reflects one who is as hurt today as the day they were offended, even if it were decades ago. When I saw Peggy on a Friday, crying from the freshly inflicted pain, her countenance looked EXACTLY the same when she knocked on our door asking for counsel two days later…and might have remained that way decades later as she chose to distrust everybody she met and opened herself up to additional pain including drugs, alcohol, more lesbian relationships, in an effort to fill that void only Jesus can fill. Instead, we prayed, she cried and her countenance and attitude had completely changed by the time we said ‘good-night.’
Forgiveness is critical to the success of the Christian walk. Owning up to the true reasons why things are the way they are ranks high on that list. Though Peggy couldn’t see it at first, the more we peeled back the onion skins, far beyond the first day she met this other woman, it became clearer and clearer that she had rejected Jesus repeatedly in favor of her own lordship over her own life, all the while referring to herself as a Christian.
How about you? Is it time for YOU to allow Jesus to be Lord of YOUR past so you can move forward with His Kingdom agenda in your future? Start TODAY!
Michael Tummillo is a Workplace Chaplain, Founder of The Church @ Work (TCAW). He is an author, a speaker, a Christian whose mission is to Train and Equip the Body of Christ worldwide via online ministry. He has written nearly 1000 articles since 1999, intended to provoke the thinking Christian to greater things.