Clarity eludes me most of the time. 1 Corinthians 13:12 describes this dilemma perfectly.” We don’t see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines brightly. We’ll see it all then; see it as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly, just as he knows us”. (The Message)
Promised Land Living launched me on a journey of deepening understanding of how the lie, “I am responsible” had taken over more ground in my life than I suspected. I already understood that I took on too much responsibility for the work in any group that I was involved in (family, work, and church.) In fact, what began with the desire to live a responsible, productive life turned into a consuming negative force in my life. The more skilled I became at taking responsibility in areas such as relationships, household duties, and mediating conflicts, I found I could add even more of these tasks. My well-intentioned responsibility took a toll on my health and well-being and robbed others of growth opportunities. What is becoming clearer to me after PLL are the subtle ways that I still live with this false sense of responsibility.
Currently, my household includes teen and young adult children as well as my mother who has dementia. It is a daily challenge to allow others to take on tasks which I could perform more efficiently. In an attempt to keep the household running smoothly, I’m tempted to rob others of their opportunity to contribute. If I do too much for my children, they will not learn the life skills required to become successful adults. At the other end of the age spectrum, if I limit my mom’s responsibilities, it will contribute to a more rapid decline and rob her of enjoyment and a sense of independence.
In further unpacking of my false sense of responsibility, I am confronted with the question, “Is it possible to be responsible for another person’s happiness?” Of course not. However, this knowledge does not keep me from attempting this impossible feat over and over again. I have learned that anger is a red flag for me, indicating that there is a problem. It is especially true that I get angry when I am taking on responsibility for something that is not mine. Let me provide an illustration. I already mentioned that my mother is living with us. Despite her limitations, she still desires to live an active and engaged life. One example of her spunk is that she enjoys fitness classes attended by women who are decades younger. Because she is easily bored, she often accompanies me while running errands to add variety to her daily routine. One day, however, we decided she should stay home because she would not enjoy the errands I had on my plate for that day. When I returned, she greeted me with, “Hello busy lady.” I asked how she was doing, and she said, “Not busy.” While preparing dinner a little later, I noticed that I was banging pots and pans in anger. I asked myself, “What am I feeling responsible for?” I realized that I was plagued with a false sense of responsibility for my mom’s happiness!
Please don’t misunderstand. I want my mother to be happy, but I am not responsible for her happiness. As I become more aware of this tendency and “catch myself in the act”, I find I am able to set better boundaries and enjoy life and my relationships more. Proverbs 4:18 is one of my favorite verses because it speaks of gaining clarity while on the journey. My personal journey toward the Promised Land has been one of increasing awareness of my internal dynamics. “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day”. (NIV) While I gain clarity and freedom to help me balance my work and relationship responsibilities, I am becoming aware of other areas in my life where the lie “I am responsible” has permeated. Isn’t that what growth is all about? Taking more ground as we journey toward the Promised Land. Stay with me as I share more about my journey toward freedom from a false sense of responsibility.
Rhonda is a certified life coach and owner of Transformed Lives! Coaching. She brings years of experience as a social worker and ministry director to her coaching practice. Rhonda relocated to the Triangle in 2010 after being a lifelong Mid-Westerner. Adjusting to her new life with her husband of 30 years, 3 young adult children and live-in mother has its challenges. She brings a compassionate approach to helping clients achieve lasting change through life’s transitions. Her focus is on self-awareness, recognizing inner barriers, understanding personality types (our own and other’s) and developing Biblical spiritual practices to sustain growth and development. You may contact Rhonda at [email protected].