It is with great pleasure that I get to share this next story with you. It is one that has stood the test of time in our family. Not only have my husband and I managed to stay married for 23 years, but we dated for 3 years before that and were friends for 3 years before THAT. This story dates back to the “friend” stage and takes place at a youth group Pictionary Party. Blake (my present-day husband) and I were partners on a Pictionary team. We lost…badly. But here was my dear “husband’s” conclusion: It was entirely my fault. His reasoning? Because I couldn’t guess ( what his “brilliantly drawn” pictures were) and I couldn’t draw (how should he be expected to figure out my chicken-scratch drawings?). This illustration of BLAME comes up frequently in our home. I saw a t-shirt once that I thought he needed, based on this very story. It said, “I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you.”
We all feel the need to place blame somewhere, don’t we? I have been blaming everything that requires “remembering” on Chemo Brain for the past 5 months. While it’s unclear if this is a real condition or not, many who have undergone chemo claim it to be true. But here’s the sad reality of my situation: the kind of chemo I had with Leukemia and the way it was administered ( in the hospital for 6 days rather than on-going for a long period of time) does not really give people Chemo Brain. My doctor said I might feel foggy for a bit but that should soon pass and I will be as good as new. I tried to argue that I really believed it was a real thing and I indeed had it and that I was pretty sure it is contagious because my mom has it too! I NEED to be able to blame my lack of mental sharpness on something.
I give my husband a hard time for the Pictionary story, but its humor, and horror, lies in the fact that our human nature makes every one of us inclined to place blame on someone or something. We blame our bad behavior on bad parenting, our affair on our spouse’s inattentiveness, our weight gain on a stressful work environment, our kid’s rebellion on the Youth Pastor’s lack of mentoring, our spiritual slump on our church, our addiction on what happened to us as a child, our loneliness on our insensitive friends, our discontentment with life on, well, everyone and everything. Blaming is not too far removed from shaming. Shaming is about guilt. About holding someone captive and regularly reminding them that they are a hostage.
In every situation, determining fault is a way of distracting ourselves from the parts of our lives that we actually have power to control or change. It’s impossible to live with peace and serenity in our hearts when we spend our spiritual energy placing blame. I read a great quote regarding this in one of my readings: “Today I accept that each life has its share of conflict. It is not my job to document every such incident. Instead of wringing my hands and pointing my finger, I can consider the possibility that everything is happening exactly as it should. Sometimes blame is just an excuse to keep busy so that I don’t have to feel the discomfort of my powerlessness.” We are powerless over other people, places and things. But with God’s help, we are NOT powerless over our RESPONSE to other people, places and things. There are many players in the game of life and it is never any one person’s fault that we are experiencing something bad. The sooner we own our own behavior and understand that the only person we can actually do anything about is ourselves, the sooner we’ll be able to play a rational game of Pictionary.