Personal Responsibility & the Dangers of Magical Thinking

by Denise

We reap exactly what we sow.

Self-pity, victimization, and fault-finding in others ultimately deceives us into thinking that someone or something else is in control of our lives. We cannot control what other people do. We cannot even control what other people do to us. But we are always, 100% responsible for how we respond to people and events in our lives.

No one is responsible for my life but myself. No one is responsible for what ultimately becomes of me but myself. I will give an account to God for what I have done here, which only reinforces the fact that I’m the responsible party, not Him.

He will strengthen, help, guide, direct, comfort…all manner of good things. But it is for me to run with it. He will strengthen me, but I must exercise that strength. He will give me wisdom, but I still must figure the problem out.

God does not magically fix our lives.

The fact of the matter is that as much as we judge ourselves to be “good people,” we still do things that are wrong, unkind, or just generally unwise. And when we do, we are sowing bad seeds in our lives that will sprout up in one way or another–in conflict, stress, confusion, and the like.

So, if something is wrong in my life, the question should not be, “O Lord, why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this.” But rather, “What do I need to do to make the best of this situation? And is there anything that I can do in the future to avoid this?”

Certain things like illness may be completely beyond our control. Many times the vicissitudes of life will put us in really hard situations. But still, as cliche as it sounds, attitude is absolutely everything. What becomes of you in that circumstance and what type of person you are on the other end is wholly what you choose to make it.

I put “the dangers of magical thinking” in the title because I see magical thinking popping up in the following ways:

  • –waiting for God to suddenly change everything (different than His provision for specific needs)
  • –waiting for one’s ship to come in
  • –thinking that having faith alleviates one of the responsibility of fixing one’s own character
  • –thinking that one can have a good life without obtaining the wisdom necessary to build a good life

I believe that a lot of times in life, when things don’t work out as we hoped–a friendship or relationship crumbles, career path is unsatisfying, etc. it’s not necessarily because we intentionally did something wrong to deserve it. But more often than not, it’s that at the time we didn’t see or understand something that either would have prompted us to choose differently, or would have enabled us to better handle the situation. Sometimes, we saw the bad seeds in those situations from the beginning, but we didn’t understand their significance or we unwisely chose to overlook them. And what started off as a little bad seed grew into a sprawling, overbearing weed-bush that’s taking over our garden.

Because none of us is born all-knowing and all-wise, we have to expect that we will make mistakes, that we’ll find ourselves failing in certain situations at times. But the point is to own one’s responsibility in the matter, ask forgiveness if that is required, or just learn what not to do next time and chart a better course for the future.