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Taking Personal Responsibility

11/ 08/2020 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies. Since becoming an adult, I have learned that one of my most difficult lessons was being responsible for my own actions. There have been times in my life where I have done wrong or unproductive things and justified it because of what I believed was a wrong done to me by someone else. It is so easy to blame someone else for how we choose to behave…for doing something dumb or harmful or vengeful. Personal accountability, personal responsibility, is one of our greatest challenges as spiritual beings with human bodies. And as I look around at other peoples’ behavior, I believe I am not alone in this challenge. People cheat on their taxes and justify it by saying that the government is taking too much of what they make. People cut off other drivers on the freeway and justify it because they are in a hurry and their agenda is more important than anyone else’s. People are disloyal to their partners because they believe their needs are not being met. People drink excessively or engage in other self-destructive behaviors because they think they are being worked too hard on their jobs, that life is too tough. If there is a problem there is someone to blame, and there is almost an unlimited amount of finger pointing and blame casting going on around the world, at all levels of society. It is easy to engage the drama - to feel the energy and emotion of attributing our life challenges to others. Standing on our soap box and shouting about the violations we have endured is seen as our only means of action at times. We will talk to anyone who will listen, and even to those who don’t want to listen. We know people like this, all of us, and these folks are often difficult to be around. But our Bible verse is pretty straight forward: we will be held accountable for what we have done, good or bad, while we have these bodies. It is not dependent upon the circumstances. The conditions that we find ourselves in will not play a part. We often have no control over our circumstances, but still, we will be held responsible for our actions. Period. Regardless of what has happened to us, good or bad, we choose our actions; we choose how to move forward from here. No one is moving our body but us. And it is not only our actions that we alone are responsible for – it is also for our thoughts, words, attitudes, and motives. In Psalm 39:1 we read: “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will curb my tongue when the ungodly are around me.” In Ecclesiastes 10:20: "Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom..." This is where the ‘big boys and girls’ play, in this arena of self-accountability and responsibility. This is where the folks with a high Spiritual IQ dwell. It is the ‘coming home’ to God. As I attempt to develop the awareness of Spirit within me and allow the Christ to express…it is not good enough to do good. For instance: My goal each Sunday is to present ideas that will bring you to a closer relationship with Spirit. I try to sing a song in a way that opens your heart to God’s Presence and help you experience your ‘childship’ with God. But suppose I were to deliver a talk that opened your hearts to the Presence of God and sang a song that inspired you to move to a new level of consciousness, and yet my motive was to hear your kind words of praise, your applause, your accolades after the service because I selfishly wanted my ego stroked. On the outside, I may do something good and even beneficial for others, but my motives can totally occlude God’s Grace and favor because it was all for the ego. I will answer to God for my motives, as will we all. The most Christly, saintly, and spiritual people live in the realms of angels, totally surrounded by the Presence of God. Beyond just doing good - every deed, word, thought, attitude, and motive is divinely infused with Spirit’s love. We are held accountable for our actions and words. Piece of cake. Anyone can learn to control their bodies and words so that we are not hurting someone. “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It is the bottom rung of civility; it the basic minimum requirement for getting along on this planet. Yet responsibility doesn’t rest there. It moves to our thoughts. Whoa! That is exponentially more difficult; and then our attitudes and motives…. Nearly impossible to keep under control at all times. But this is where the Christ is calling us – to this higher plane of living, thinking, and being; to a higher level of God-awareness and consciousness. Why is it so hard to move in the direction we are being called? Let me ask you a question? What do the plots of Star Wars and Doctor Zhivago have in common? What about Hansel and Gretel and The Godfather? It really makes no difference what stories you choose, there is a commonality to them. Every story that mankind has created has a victim, a persecutor, and a rescuer. It is called the Drama Triangle. It was brought to light in 1968 by Stephen Karpman, a psychiatrist for a VA hospital in Palo Alto, CA. We cannot read a meaningful story without these three elements. The Bible is filled with these elements, as are all the books written prior to the Bible and since. Our minds have been so conditioned to this drama that we create it in our own lives. It has become part of our collective conscious, and it is entirely man-made. This is partly what is holding us down. When we are in an argument with our spouse or friend, or anyone for that matter, what character – persecutor, victim, or rescuer – are we fighting to be? We are invariably trying to be the victim. “Well, if only you wouldn’t talk to me in that condescending tone of voice, maybe I would pay more attention to you.” We are desperately trying to prove that we are the victim in this situation and the other person is the persecutor. “It is all your fault that my life is in shambles; that I am emotionally stunted, that I have a stutter, that I don’t like people, that I am alone, that I have anxiety attacks, that I eat too much, that I have no friends…” And the list goes on and on and on. We want to own that victim position. And of course, once we do, what do we want next? To be rescued. Preferably, we want to be rescued by the same person who was persecuting us. We want them to suddenly see clearly the error of their ways and say, “You are right, and I am so sorry for how I have behaved, and for what I said. Please forgive me. I’ve been so unthinking and insensitive; only thinking of myself. What can I ever do to make it up to you?” These are the words and attitude we want to hear from them. If the persecutor does not become the rescuer, the victim will look for safety and salvation in someone else. Another man or woman comes along, genuinely offers some support or kind words, and suddenly has become the hero, and a new relationship ensues. We can feel the lure of the drama of this simple story as I relate it.

The drama triangle is strong in our minds and we are emotionally looking for a rescuer. When we play the part of a victim, every person we meet is looked upon as a potential persecutor or rescuer – are they going to hurt me or save me? When we are the victim, we are at our weakest spiritually as well as our most vulnerable emotionally because we are living and reacting from our fears… fear of being hurt, or rejected, or abandoned. When we get to know someone as a casual acquaintance, a business association, or romantically at an emotional level, we are concerned with whether or not this person will accept us, approve of us, and appreciate us, or will they criticize us, judge us, and betray us. It has become how we expect to live out our life, in this manmade concoction of drama. God is calling us to step outside the drama, and become responsible for ourselves. When we face a challenge, instead of asking, “Who is to blame,” Christ is inviting us to ask, “How can I make this situation better?” In Spirit, there is no Drama Triangle. It is part of the meaning behind Satan trying to tempt Jesus, and Christ says, “Get behind me Satan!” “Let the drama fall away,” says the Christ, “There is only the good of God.” Suppose we were arguing with our spouse again, and this time instead of thinking of the next scalding remark and fighting for the role of victim, we were to think, “What can I say to show this person that I truly do love them? Beyond the obvious ego demands from my entanglement in the Drama Triangle, what result do I ultimately want and what will best bring about that result? How can I make things better right now?” Just by hearing those words, can you feel the drama drain out of the situation? The emotional energy changes from antagonistic to amicable. This is a difficult new set of processes to implement because of the power of the collective unconscious drama that inculcates our lower egos. It is not easy, and it is the ‘high road’, the way of Spirit. The next time we want to blame someone for something, let us take personal responsibility for the situation. We may not have done anything to contribute to the circumstances, but what can we do to make it better? That question, by taking responsibility, pretty much dissolves the drama and points us in a more productive direction.

There is always something that we can be personally responsible for – if nothing else it is our emotional response to a situation. “How can I react right now that will either help the situation or at least reduce the difficulty and conflict for all concerned?” As Victor Frankl taught, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." He also taught, "The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance." If nothing else, we can examine our motives for what we are doing and saying. Can I change my attitude right now to one that is more loving, understanding, and other-oriented? As we take personal responsibility for the challenges in our lives, the drama and energy wanes, allowing us to make more spiritually grounded decisions about our behaviors, words, thoughts, attitudes, and motives. When we take responsibility for our actions we become more charitable. When we take responsibility for our words, we become more civil. When we take responsibility for our thoughts we become more considerate. When we take responsibility for our attitudes, we become more peaceful. And when we take responsibility for our motives, we become more loving. This is part of the reason that we respect Veterans: They stepped up, took personal responsibility, and put it all on the line for us... for others. It is not easy, and we are told in Ecclesiastes 12:14: God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. Nothing we do, or think, or feel is hidden from God, and the consequences of our actions are swift. We immediately feel the pain of regret when we do something that we know is hurtful. That is God’s judgment. When we continue abusing our bodies, they deteriorate. That is part of God’s judgment. Our guilt and shame are part of God’s judgment. It is my prayer that we recognize that still small voice nudging us, and acknowledge that Spirit is guiding us toward a more loving, peaceful, and joyful existence here on earth. I pray that we will step up and take personal responsibility for where we are currently, what we are currently thinking, how we are currently responding, and raise our Spiritual IQ so that we can move forward with God, and follow the call that is leading us toward the love and joy and peace of Spirit.



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