When I was a little girl, I loved reading books about heroes and bad guys. Disney movies about princesses and villains were my favorite to watch. The evil queen gets put in her place or the cruel stepmother gets a dose of her own evil actions. I loved seeing evil go down.
When I would read the stories in my books, or watch the story play out on screen, I always imagined myself as the hero or princess.
I liked to think of myself as someone that would always do the right thing and save the world. I enjoyed thinking I was the hero. Not once did I ever think of myself as the villain. Although, as an adult they are my favorite characters, I never thought the evil queen and I would one day have something in common.
If we’re being honest, it’s easier to think we are the hero and everyone else is the villain.
What if we are the villain in the story?
A few years ago, I had a rough encounter with a woman at my church. She accused me of some harsh things and was very aggressive. After our encounter one early Sunday morning, I left church, fuming.
The confusion and anger inside of me was so intense, I got physically sick to my stomach. It takes a lot for me to get that bothered and I didn’t know what to do.
That evening, I shared the details of the encounter with my husband and I was able to process what happened in a more calm and less accusatory way.
He reminded me of something that I was already used to implementing in my life, but in this situation, I chose to ignore it because of pride. I was reminded of two questions that I started asking myself some time ago. Two questions that keep me humble when I think everyone else is the problem.
“Is there any truth to this?” and “Am I the one that needs to be checked?”
These questions aren’t meant to be an excuse for someone’s negligent behavior, but they’re meant to help me think outside of my own feelings at that moment. Feelings that might have me thinking the world is against me.
Honestly, because I was quick to be offended, I didn’t think this lady deserved for me to stop and ask these questions. I felt she was 100% in the wrong. The thing was, although her approach was very juvenile, some of the things she said were...true. That was a hard pill to swallow.
I thought I was the sweet-tempered princess in this situation, holding onto the offense like it was a handsome prince.
I felt like I needed someone to save me from the evil villain, but the reality was, I needed to be rescued from my own poor actions. I needed to be checked because I was the villain in this story.
Although not meaning to, at one point I hurt this woman's feelings. There was a time when I was careless with my response to her, and it affected her greatly. And although it’s not my job to manage anyone else’s feelings, I was however, responsible for being aware of my own actions.
You see, sometimes we live our life thinking we are the princess or the hero, when we are the villain in the story.
We were the ones who were full of pride and selfishness. Dare I say a little narcissistic? We were the gossiping tongue that caused division in the friendship, and it caught up with us. We were the know-it-all and ended up struggling in our relationship because no one wanted to deal with our self-centeredness or constant negative talk.
Maybe it was a story we created in our mind that led to an assumption about someone that wasn’t true. And instead of thinking the best of that person, we made the poor choice to be judgmental and petty.
We hold other people accountable for things we have zero boundaries in and then make it all about how toxic the other person is.
When we fool ourselves into thinking we are always the hero, blame-shifting becomes part of our life. If we never stop to see that our own unresolved issues have left us bitter, sarcastic, and maybe even a tyrant to the people around us, then everyone else will always be the problem.
Now, I am not saying that we are always to blame, but to never take responsibility for anything, really is a dangerous mentality to have.
We cannot be so delusional that we fail to see how we could have played a part in the story. When we put ourselves on a pedestal, thinking everyone else is the problem, we become more villain-like than Christ-like. We die a slow death.
Asking the questions, “Is there any truth to this?” and “Am I the one that needs to be checked?”, isn’t about putting ourselves down and letting the other person “off the hook”, but about taking inventory of our own life, not everyone else’s. It’s about asking ourselves, “Do I need to grow here? Do I need to look at my own actions at this moment and not the actions of others?”
Blame-shifting has been happening since the beginning of time. In Genesis we learn about Eve and how she ate from the tree that God told her not to eat from. Instead of taking responsibility, she blamed the serpent for her disobedience. And when Adam, her husband, ate the same fruit and was confronted by God, he didn’t take responsibility, but blamed Eve. We have been doing this for years, but we don’t have to.
When we take responsibility for our behavior, we can grow in the areas that hold us back. We experience freedom when we no longer make excuses.
My friend, the Lord wants us to grow into the people of God we are meant to be. We get there by taking responsibility. We get there by accepting we are imperfect people that need to submit our thoughts and actions to a perfect God.
Many villains lose or are destroyed by the hero in the story. The great thing about submitting our lives to Jesus, is even though we sometimes behave like the villain, he doesn’t destroy us, but rebuilds us.
Jesus is the real hero in our story.
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