Chapter 3: Lies Women Believe About Themselves
Day 2: Accepting Responsibility
Lie #9: “I can’t help the way I am.”
Among those who have a genuine relationship with Christ, this lie is particularly devastating. It causes hopelessness, discouragement, and places us in extreme bondage.
Unfortunately, those who do not have a right relationship with God use this lie to justify their sin and, while it ends up in the same, if not worse, degree of bondage, they are blind to it as they attempt to find freedom through a lie.
The problem with believing that we can’t help the way we are is that it makes us victims – of our circumstances, our family histories, or other people in our lives. Victim status in the world translates to freedom.
- “It’s okay – you can’t help the way you are, it’s your parents’ fault. They did things to you that make you act like that.”
- “If that person hadn’t provoked you, you wouldn’t have acted that way; it’s not your fault.”
- “You can’t help your addiction, it runs in your family.”
These lies are designed to make us feel better – but in reality, they make us feel worse. We are quick to take them as truth and are now justified in containing our wrong and destructive behavior, which in turn hurts us, in which we find a way to blame someone else, which perpetuates the problem, and the more we act out, the more we blame, the worse we feel, the more we act out… and the cycle continues until we finally take personal responsibility and decide to change.
But even then, we struggle because when we’ve been told our whole lives that what we do and who we are is a result of chance, a result of circumstances, relationships, our past, or our family histories, we feel hopeless to change our wrong and destructive behavior.
But let’s look a little deeper – even more than the common-sense problem with the victim status, there’s a much deeper problem when we look at the word of God. According to scriptures, there are no victims in Heaven. In order for us to experience salvation, we must first take responsibility before God and repent of our sin – which is what we do, not what someone else makes us do, and comes from what is in us, not what is around us.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, we read:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Are not many of the things on that list identified as things we can’t help? We have been given countless excuses: born that way, chemical imbalance, abuse, provocation. But clearly, God does not accept our excuses. We must be made new, transformed into the image of Christ. And change is impossible apart from personal responsibility. I can’t change the things I can’t help: I can’t change my skin color or eye color. I can change the way that I talk, the things I talk about, and why I talk about them. In the same way, God does not keep us out of Heaven and send us to Hell for things we cannot help such as our hair color or shoe size.
Even in the garden of Eden we see the natural inclination to blame-shift. When God came to hold Adam and Eve accountable, God asked Adam what he did. Adam, instead of admitting his own choices, pointed out Eve’s problem. But God didn’t ask Adam what Eve did, He asked what Adam did. Eve answered God the same way – “the serpent made me do it.”
Our first response when trouble comes upon is to find someone to blame; to protect ourselves and our image, to avoid the pain and humiliation of admitting our wrong. But we’re only putting off the inevitable and in the meantime, worsening the consequences. Freedom is not found in avoiding personal responsibility, but in accepting and welcoming the opportunity to own up to our own choices, knowing that it’s only through personal responsibility that we can change. Freedom is not found in building up our pride, but in staying humble and therefore, being teachable .
No one can make you sin.
No circumstance can make you sin.
No family traits can make you sin.
Each person makes their own choices in life. The fact that you may be more vulnerable to certain sin does not mean that you have to commit that sin.
Why is it that changing people/places/things doesn’t work for change? Because the problem is in us, and we can’t escape ourselves. Your problems can’t be solved by switching jobs, switching neighborhoods, or switching boyfriends. Your problems can only be solved by taking personal responsibility before God so that He can begin to change you and set you free from yourself. To be honest before God, to say “I did this, and I hate that I did this. It was my fault and only my fault. This is what’s in me, and I don’t want it in me anymore.” When you own up to reality and stop living in fantasy, God can take control of the situation and He can begin to change you. And don’t be surprised when God doesn’t change your circumstances or relationships but instead changes you. That’s the whole point.
The reality of the importance of personal responsibility is AWESOME news if you really want freedom, really want to change, and to honor God. To be set free from your circumstances, your family history, your own history, and the relationships that have controlled you.
But it’s bad news is if you want to continue as you are, avoid the pain of change, and keep hoping that if there’s someone or something to blame, you can escape. But you can’t. God will hold you accountable for what you do, not what someone else does to you.
So the question that remains is this: do you really want to be free?
Your actions follow your beliefs – if you believe that you can’t change, that you’re destined to be this way, you will never change. But if you choose to believe God when he says you can be a new creation, that he will set you free and you will never the same, that you don’t have to be your family tree, that you don’t have to respond in anger, that you don’t have to be defined by your past, then you will be able to begin to walk in freedom.
Grace: the power God gives to do what God says.
Even when people provoke you, God’s grace will help you to be faithful to love and give to those people.
Even if the last 5 generations of your family were controlled and destroyed by depression, God’s grace will help you to have peace and joy and overcome the depression.
Even if you have been addicted for 20 years and everyone has told you it’s an imbalance, you can never fully break free of it, and you’ll always be one step away, God’s grace will set you free and give you a new identity.
That’s the beauty of Grace; God not only calls to obedient, but He gives us His own power to do it! THAT’S freedom! Rather than having to be hopelessly controlled by others in a victim state, we can instead surrender to the Power of the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience, even when it’s hard, and then experience the freedom and satisfaction that comes with obedience to Christ.
No matter what you struggle with, who or what you try to blame, decide that you’re done being controlled by anything other than Christ. Surrender it to Him. Take responsibility. Let your freedom begin.
Points to remember:
- No one can make you sin.
- We are each responsible for our own attitudes, choices and behavior.
- God does not accept excuses for sin.
- Actions always follow beliefs.
- Personal responsibility begins freedom; removing responsibility brings bondage and hopelessness.
- God’s grace is enough to obey in any and all situations.
- You Don’t Have To Be Your Family Tree
- Sacrificial Love
- Thinking About Thoughts
- Do You Want To Be Free?
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.