“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself—and be lenient to everybody else.”
— Henry Ward Beecher
Life is a paradoxical phenomenon of existence; the obvious things that promise much often deliver little, and they distract us from the hidden things that provide real meaning.
One of these paradoxes involves responsibility...
At accord with our willingness to lead responsible lives resides an almost direct relationship with happy contentment. The less we expect of others, the happier we can be. The more we can see ourselves as vital actors within our lives, the more control we assume in how our lives will play out.
What Responsibility Entails
When we agree with God to lead responsible lives, we agree to feel the intensities of reality—the sweeping highs and lows of life—the expanse of grace and pain—the hilarious exhilarations as well as the tumultuous desperations.
Being responsible requires courage of us. But it is the only way to true contentment in a life inherently relational.
God issues each and every one of us this level of control over our own lives: to be responsible. Not to be responsible for what others should be responsible for, but to be responsible for everything we do, can do, and don’t do, for everything we could have done, and for everything we should have and shouldn’t have done.
The scope of responsibility, regarding our own control over our own lives, is significantly broader than we think. This involves both a positive and negative. The positive is we are much more in control than we would otherwise think. Life doesn’t control us as much as many believe. Sure the circumstances may be beyond our control, but we are the ones who respond to the circumstances. That is within our control. The negative is that we cannot escape this responsibility, for it will catch up with us if/when we choose to live irresponsibly. That is just added incentive to live responsibly.
Where True Happiness Fits In
At this point we are probably asking ourselves where does happiness fit in.
When we willingly lead responsible lives, especially to the extent of owning the pain of our words and behaviours, God is suddenly with us, and he blesses us for our willingness to continually repent. His generous portions of grace are poured out copiously through our responsible souls. This must be experienced to be believed.
When we take to life with firm but fair expectations on ourselves, and with few expectations on others, happiness is more in reach. When we ask “What can I reasonably do in this situation?” we are better positioned to react responsibly.
An achieved balance of responsibility sees a person able to operate with their reality. When reality can be accepted the happiness of joy is never too far away.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.