There is something that every human avoids like the plague and that is taking responsibility. I have had clients get up and walk out of my office when we get to the point of taking responsibility. (granted we were dealing with anger!) I believe I am the expert of blaming some one else for my decisions or lack of decisions. This gets us into all kinds of trouble in our relationships, jobs, community; you name it. There are many elements of responsibility but what I'm finding is that when I know that I'm loved and will be loved after epic screw ups, I am then free to own what I've done.
At a very young age we innately know how to blame others. My 2 year old before her sister was born colored on the wall and said that Kate had done it. I couldn't help but laugh, yet in the same sense she started very young at what we all eventually become very good at; blaming people who are not to blame or can't be blamed. I am the only one in control of my actions, thoughts and feelings. Now every behavior I do has some sort of benefit to it or else I'll stop doing that behavior. There is a lot of benefit in not taking responsibility. It justifies my anger, guilt, fears, choices, thoughts, feelings the list goes on and on. Responsibility takes owning what I've done and dealing well with the ramifications of my actions. It also takes listening to the people I've hurt and making a choice to change course of action.
Now I think that the before mentioned has be stated a lot and can be generally accepted. The difference I'm finding is that when love is involved, it frees me not only to take full responsibility but also reason to work through the consequences of my actions. 1 Corinthians 13 is a good description of love.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
In 1 John 4:15- 18 the author says that "God is love".
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
I often have my clients do and exercise where they insert "God" into the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 every where it says "love" and really get a new emotional concept of God. When we know how loved we are and who it is that is loving us, we are free to take responsibility for whatever we've done, said or thought. The good news is that when I take responsibility I don't have to keep beating myself up for it. I confess it (agree that its not who I really am, as a child of God) and move forward in love.
I've seen this reality work itself out in so many relationships and they are great opportunities for us to express this. As I invite Christ (love) into my marriage, my parenting, my work environment, my church, to live in me, through me, as me, then I am free to take responsibility for how I treat those other people. This reality is true in all areas of my mental health as well. As I invite Christ (love) into my anger, addictions, depression, anxiety, worry, fear, doubt, then I begin to recognize the root of the things that brought me to that place and the freedom to own it and allow Christ to heal it.
This is only the preface on this topic, but the challenge is then to receive love, take responsibility, then give love so that others can become free as they begin to own their choices, actions, thoughts and feelings.