Is life happening to you, or are you living your life? This is a fundamental question for many of us to face. We live in an age where people tend to blame everybody else for all that is wrong with themselves and give credit to themselves for everything that is good. I see it everywhere.
“I’m like this because of my parents.”
“We’d work better together if he would just…”
“You don’t understand what’s happened to me.”
“I can’t help it! _________ did this to me.”
And my personal least favorite: “This is just the way I am.” Which is to say I am screwed up and completely unwilling to change, regardless of how dysfunctional my behavior is or how disruptive it is to anybody else.
There are some realities we need to face. Life is hard. People will always have expectations of us and put pressure on us to be something that serves them best. Sometimes, people will do terrible things to us. It’s part of the broken world we live in.
But we get a choice. And that choice starts with a belief about who we are and if we are powerful or powerless. Will I define my life or will it define me?
The way I see it, there are two circles: The victim circle and the freedom circle.
In the victim circle, life happens to me. My circumstances, relationships, and the actions of others press in on me, and I get smaller and smaller as the pressure closes in on me. My focus is on ME and how things impact ME. My life becomes defined by things out of my control, and I am a product of my environment. I am left with no choice but to react to whatever life throws my direction.
I once had someone come talk to me about his relationship with his spouse who was stuck in the victim circle. He told me “She is like this, which means I can’t do the things I want to do or be the kind of person I want to be!” If we’re honest, all of us have our moments where everything is somebody else’s fault and we start to think we’re powerless. In this case, he was a humble and hungry man, and within 3 minutes, he realized that he was thinking like a victim and turning his wife into his enemy rather than thinking about how he could love and influence his wife. Then he stepped into the freedom circle, and both of their lives got better.
In the freedom circle, I realize that I am a powerful person who has the ability to impact the world and shape my life. We were never meant to make life all about us and how things impact us. My focus is on the impact I can make rather than how things impact me. This taps into what it is to be a human being created in the the image of God! He created Adam and Eve, and said “Rule over the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky, and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” We were created to shape our environment and to use what God has given us to IMPACT our world.
There are limitations, of course, but to a large extent, we are free to make choices and to shape our life. We get to determine who we become, who we impact, who impacts us and what is most important to us. I get to sit with Jesus and determine what is true about me, what voices I want to listen to, what I am capable of and how I want to use what He was given me to be an agent of freedom and change in my world.
So, are you happy with the life you’ve created? If not, are you willing to walk in freedom and take control of your life? Next blog, I’ll talk about what it means to take control in a healthy way without being controlling!