People treat us bad, things go wrong, life is not working out like we want…this is where the excuses begin and life ends.
At the outset, this sounds harsh, but stay with me–there is redemption. When we are mistreated there is an emotional response that begins within us. Justice starts to cry out and demands to shine through like the noon day sun. However, justice is often blocked out by the clouds of unfairness. In every moment of everyday we are involved in the reconstruction of what is just, right, and fair, because the world is broken. We often find ourselves on the receiving end of injustice which makes the issue that much more real and important. What this dynamic creates for each of us mere mortals is a vacuum that sucks in and steals our forward progress. If we thought we could improve or be happy, we were wrong, because ________________ happened and now we must spend our time recovering from the emotional fallout that results from guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, and sorrow. The disappointments of life are the landmines that take our legs out from underneath us and too often cripple us from living in the fullness of what God has designed us for. The truth is that justice fails. It fails big time. For some people it is enough for them to end their own life. For others, it keeps them oppressed under the crushing despair and cycle of addiction and self harm. Those who should be held responsible are not. And we are doomed to live under the unyielding misery that comes with a lack of accountability…right?!
Just when it seems that injustice has won the day, there is a savior that flanks it–spears it–and moves forward like a champion. That hero is OWNERSHIP.
When we get beat down it is because we are too busy fighting injustice; we cannot help ourselves from trying to defeat it. But all the time we are fighting one injustice another one jumps on our backs. Then another one punches us in the gut. Even if we got one victory, the onslaught never ceases. How can one defeat the cunning and ever so accurate jabs of injustice? The simple answer is OWNERSHIP. You may ask, “How can I take ownership of something that I did not do?” or “Why should I be responsible for the bad behavior of someone else? Isn’t this akin to being a whipping post or a doormat?”
Those are reasonable questions. Why this seems so counter intuitive is because injustice is like a magician who uses smoke and mirrors to distract its opponent from what is really going on; keeping the victim’s eyes fixed on the distraction, or the illusion. The problem with seeking justice in our daily lives, in our every problem, is that it does nothing to address the emotional wound that was delivered. Someone was punished, someone got what they deserved, the truth was told–but we are still hurting. ______________ still happened! These evil magicians, once their tricks are discovered, only leave us feeling bad. We do not feel refreshed and recharged. At best it was a wash; we wish we never would have seen it or have gone through it and hope to forget about it. It’s like a murderer getting sent to the electric chair for a crime he did commit. There is satisfaction that justice was served, but the victim’s family would give anything for the whole thing to have never happened. Which brings us back around to how we can take ownership during times of injustice.
The answer: Stop trying to figure out why you are right. Stop trying to defend yourself. Stop trying to demonstrate that someone else is wrong.
If your default response to pain in your life was to accept it, the pits of injustice would no longer be an issue. You could keep moving forward with your own life, your own goals, and your own dreams because there would be nothing stopping you. When you accept everything that happens in your life with your eyes wide open you will begin to see that there are many things that you brought on yourself. There are many things that you should be responsible for that you are desperately seeking to hide from. And then there are things that just plain suck and you were completely a victim of.
At any rate, you take OWNERSHIP of your feelings, of your behaviors–even the ones that you feel justified for AFTER you were clearly wronged by someone else. When you can do that and not blame someone else for your actions, even if it seems justified, you will exit the fight with injustice and start living for what really matters–your destiny. What happened to you that was wrong was a distraction. But choose not to be distracted. Learn from it. Accept it. Grant forgiveness where you can–this allows you to let go of the fight. Every fight that you step out of means that you are able to move faster down your path.
To go back and address the concern of being a doormat and a whipping post; this is a misconception. Now you can be those things, but taking ownership does not entail taking responsibility for what SOMEONE ELSE did. Ownership is taking FULL RESPONSIBILITY for what YOU did, and more importantly, what you will do. There will be a day of reckoning, a day when justice will be served. God Almighty will sort out every wrong doing, we need not worry about that. Taking ownership does not let other people off the hook. This is where we often stay our whole lives. We won’t take responsibility for ourselves because there is something that someone else has done that we are waiting for them to take responsibility for or otherwise be punished for. This will destroy our destiny. This will kill every ounce of purpose and forward movement that we have. They will get theirs in the end. Forgiving someone does not remove accountability of their actions. They will pay. Or God will forgive. But that is above our pay grade. In this life we cannot control those things. But if we want to live with joy and a sense of peace, we have to put to death our compulsion to judge others. We have much to be forgiven for ourselves.
It happened. Whatever it was, it happened. Sometimes you had a part to play in why it happened and other times you did not. You cannot change it. You cannot improve it–not in the historical sense. It is what it is and you feel the way you feel. Do not be afraid to take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for every thing that originated from you–even if those actions were influenced by whatever another person did. Own your response. Learn to be one cares more about listening to others than convincing them why you have the right to be inconsolable. In the end, you did what you did and you could have done it differently, good or bad–know the difference. They did what they did. If we take responsibility now, in the day of accountability, where God judges every person for every thought and deed, there will be no surprises, no regrets, and no excuses.