For Throwback Thursday….
I listened to this podcast more than once and got much out of it so I wanted to share it with you!
Think about this phrase for a moment, “My response is MY responsibility”. This is a very powerful phrase!
There is the story of a time during WWII Nazi Regime rule. A Christian French man who had been harboring Jews had been captured. German soldiers brought him before an SS Soldier known as “The Torturer”. Surprisingly to those around him, the French man was at peace and it shone through his eyes and his face.
The SS officer was not impressed! Taking it as insolence, he yelled, “Get that smirk off your face!”
Others who had entered into his presence were terrified and showed it.
The SS soldier once again looked at the French man and screamed, “Don’t you know who I am??!!”
“Yes, I do,” said the French man, “You are called ‘The Torturer’ and you have the power to have me tortured. You also have the power to condemn me to death” There was a pause. “But you do not have the power to get me to hate you.”
This story shows so clearly the control we have to be free from sinful attitudes and responses within ourselves even under the most trying circumstances! Other people cannot control our inner world.
My Response is my Responsibility – this phrase can change our lives!
People may be able to control us physically but they cannot control our thoughts! People can treat us unkindly but they cannot control our spirit!
I can rule my own inner responses – this is a God-given right. No one can make me hate them.
Even the Gestapo, as worldly powerful as they seemed to be, could not rule over the French man’s inner realm.
How does a person get to the point where they are no longer ruled by other’s treatment of them?
We begin by realizing My response is my responsibility!
We don’t need to mope or pout. We don’t need to give the silent treatment or let the rage build inside of us until it comes out of our mouths like a faucet – remember it is your responsibility to control your inner thoughts, those nasty habits that have gotten so out of hand. Time to look them square in the eye and say – I don’t have to listen to you….I don’t have to respond this way!!
If we let others control how we respond, then they are the master of our emotions. If they are mean and unjust, we will be unhappy. What we are saying, then, is that we are a hopeless and helpless emotional victim to the moods and attitudes of others around us!
When we are around uncaring and mean-spirited people, there is no hope for us. We are at the whim of these negative people and we will have a rotten day!
This does not have to be our reality!
Are you frustrated with your husband? Do you blame him for your unhappiness? Do you say to yourself, “If he loved me properly, I would in turn respect him and all would be well?”
That is making your husband “Lord” of your emotions and happiness.
That kind of power should not be given to another human being.
If this is how we think, then when our husband treats us imperfectly (and he will, as he is an imperfect human being) then we are moody and grumpy; we snap at him, we let that black cloud settle over us. We resort to resentment and anger and depression.
Because our husband, whom we have given power to rule over our inner spirit, lets us down, we are depressed. He is responsible for our happiness!
Ok, so let’s step back….. are we saying we shouldn’t be affected at all by what other people say and do?
Let’s take an analogy. A doctor taps our knee with a little hammer and our leg involuntarily kicks out. This is known as a “knee-jerk” reaction, right?
What about road rage? When someone cuts us off, we emotionally get angry…. but are we saying that we cannot help ourselves when we cuss at the person, try to cut him off in return or other such offensive actions?
Though we have involuntary emotions, that, yes, are acceptable, there are some that cross the line….and we usually know when and what those emotions are.
If our anger is not righteous indignation, if it is unrighteous, and if it has become a habit because we have given into those emotions throughout our life, then this is wrong and needs to be turned around.
Each person tends to blame their own bitterness, harshness and contempt on the other person. We claim it is involuntary; the other person caused the anger…..
Please hear a simple and profound truth….people do not CAUSE us to be who we are, they REVEAL who we are. Ouch. My response is my responsibility. The Nazi did not cause the Frenchman to react in kindness; he revealed the kindness within him.
How many times through the day is our inner person revealed: Those times when the kids are tugging on our skirt and we snap at them “What do you want AGAIN!” Little Jill spills her milk and we look at her and say through gritted teeth, “You are the most careless child I have ever met!” Hubby comes home tired and sees no dinner being fixed and complains (maybe unjustifiably) and we yell at him and give him the silent treatment the rest of the night.
These dear ones don’t CAUSE our anger, they reveal it. We do not HAVE to react this way….no, we don’t.
In each of these instances, we blame Johnny, Jill and our hubby. We say to ourselves, “I would never blow my stack if everyone behaves! Life stinks!”
We choose to live under the delusion that life experiences cause us to be upset and angry. Although we would never voice that we are a victim, this is how we sometimes live.
Living this way, in victim mode, changes the nursery rhyme:
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Humpty Dumpty was pushed.”
Let’s just blame humanity. I would be happy if it wasn’t for people! Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
We have unrealistic expectations and requirements that everyone else around us (and especially hubby, since he is a grown human being) needs to meet! He must…..be perfect. 😛
We want to assign blame; there is something inside of us that wants to justify our bad behavior.
As Emerson points out, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent. The serpent didn’t have anyone to blame because he didn’t have a leg to stand on! 😀
Our Lord says these things come from the heart of man. It is something within us that cause us to react in these unedifying ways. I have evil thoughts because I have chosen to think bad things. I have a hateful reaction because it is in my heart. I slander because it is in my heart to bad mouth people and the list goes on….
Our response is not another’s responsibility.
This message is challenging.
It is hard to face up to.
These challenges may be small, everyday things, but it can also be huge struggles and sufferings like the French man.
We do have freedom to respond with dignity.
Can I do this when my blood is boiling? Can I choose not to react angrily?
This idea of blaming someone else of my bad attitudes is inappropriate. This doesn’t mean that bad behavior is to be sanctioned. This doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t have to deal with their issues. They do. But that’s a different matter than my response to him. This is what we are talking about here.
We must not think that if we respond with dignity and love, that we are letting the other person off the hook. We have to come to the point that we realize that we can speak what is true and NECESSARY. But we do so in a kind, loving and respectful way. This empowers us.
If we become uncorked, it does not help us to govern the situation. Your husband will eventually close his spirit if you are continually “letting him have it”! He will not want to be around you. You will have no credibility with him.
You may win a battle here and there by coming unglued and blaming everyone, but eventually you lose the war. This is a painful reality.
Let’s begin to react properly. But we need to give ourselves some grace. This is a process. We may know it, but our application of it will not be perfect.
Like the French man, in a concentration camp who made it through….. He observed and came to these conclusions:
Our purpose as humans is not to seek power or pleasure but to seek purpose. No situation has the power to control us.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves!
Everything can be taken from a man except one thing, to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances.
Between unloving or disrespectful behavior and my response, there is a space. In that space is that power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.
The one thing another can’t take away from me is the freedom to choose how to respond to what someone does to me.
Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, the freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
Our great freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.
The French man’s story really leaves the rest of us without excuse at some level. How in the world can I come uncorked when the person cuts me off in the road, or hubby is angry?
I do have a choice. Like the French man I can change my responses.
Remember, My Response is My Responsibility! Will I take this to heart?
Treasury of Novenas contains over 40 popular Novenas specifically arranged in accord with the Liturgical Year on the Feasts of Jesus, Mary, and many favorite Saints. By acclaimed author Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D., this book has a rich, gold-stamped brown Dura-Lux cover and is an excellent collection of Novenas for private devotion.