The words he needed to hear would not be easy to say or receive. I know. I had heard them before myself. He wanted to get to a certain point in his life. When I asked what was keeping him from getting there I heard the all too common litany of excuses:
- I’m too busy taking care of everyone else.
- I don’t have enough money to get out of debt.
- I try to study but my house is too loud.
- No one is there to help me even though I’m helping everyone else.
Ever been there? Stuck somewhere on the road of life but the reason you’re stuck is “out there”? That’s when I said what I knew I needed to say but fought against the urge not to say because it would make the air in the room quickly uncomfortable.
I said, “You know, here’s what I’m hearing you say. All the reasons you’re giving for why you can’t get to where you want to be is someone else’s fault.”
As soon as the words came out of my mouth his eyes went to the floor and—credit to him—he said, “Yeah, you’re right. I am responsible for my life, aren’t I?”
Those are six words every person should say every morning: I am responsible for my life. Sure, some have been dealt a tougher hand than others. But whether your parents failed to give you everything you needed or influential people in your life didn’t give you a hand, you are the only one that is responsible for the life you have been given to live.
Jesus came upon a man by a pool one day who had been lame for thirty-eight years. The people believed that when the water started moving it was because an angel stirred it and whoever went in first would be healed.
Jesus asks the man a strange question. “Do you want to be healed?” And the man gave him an equally strange answer. “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
- “I have no one to put me into the pool.” Excuse.
- “While I am going…” Wait a minute. You had no one to put you in! How are you going?! Victim.
- “…another steps down before me.” Blame.
If I had been Jesus in that situation I would have said “In thirty-eight years you could have rolled yourself to the edge of the pool, balanced on your side, and plopped in yourself.” (Maybe that’s why I’m not Jesus.)
On second thought Jesus’ question isn’t so strange. If the man gets healed he has to give up his excuses. He has to put his tin cup away and get a job. He has to manage his own life instead of depending on others who have been giving him handouts all these years. (Understand, when his friends told him they’d drop by to pick him up, they really picked him up!)
So Jesus wants him to make sure he wants to be healed. And he wants you to be healed too. We all need some help along the way: some counsel, a loan, or maybe a helping hand. But the people around us are only responsible to us, not for us.
My friend left with a game plan for taking responsibility for his life. And you can too. If you want to change your life and start walking again start with these six words every morning:
I am responsible for my life.
Question: What area in your life are you blaming others or circumstances for? What can you do today to start taking responsibility for that area?