Thursday, July 19, 2007


One of the things so refreshing and at the same time challenging about a relationship that can exist when the before mentioned boundaries [see previous post] are accepted is that neither involved in that kind of relationship can any longer play the "blame game." [Henceforth referred to as the BG.] You know what the BG is don't you? It's where what I feel or have chosen to do is your fault. One is playing this game as revealed by such language as "I did this [or said that] because you" or "if you hadn't done what you did, I wouldn't have done what I did" or "you make me feel so_____" or "if you had only done [whatever]I wouldn't feel the way I do."

I have to confess that this is being written by a master blamer. I learned it early and practiced it often until I got into a relationship with a real person for life [it's called marriage] and discovered that, when effectively called on such practice by her opting out of the game, life became just too miserable trying to play that game solo, so I stopped too. That opting out for both of us began about twenty-five years ago and is still the path we choose to walk together.

Now it is true that people are even different here. I was a blame giver and she was a blame taker. I used the BG to my advantage in the control issues I had and she, by her confession, used it for her image of submission. Both were wrong and unbiblical, as well as, unhealthy. But I digress.

This BG started in the garden of Eden. After the fall, upon being confronted about what went wrong by the One that really matters, Adam said, "It's this woman you gave me." Thus the door was opened in his mind for a shifting of responsibility for his thoughts, feelings and actions that might have been inappropriate or unhealthy, not to mention sinful. That mind-set prevails today. [Be aware that while Adam said it's this "woman" the emphasis ultimately was on "that YOU gave me." So if it wasn't her fault he's was in the pickle he was in, it must be God's fault.] Boy that's classic. Been there done that... myself.

A principle I've learned [from reading Larry Crabb] is that A never causes C...[Read that again..slowly.] A is the event, situation, person or happening and C is my feeling or choice made after the happening. [Read that again slowly also.] I always tried to believe and convince others that A CAUSED MY C. ["Because you...I."] The more lousy my feelings or actions the more obvious, at least to me, that the A was even lousier and the A is YOU. [Certainly someone/something other than me caused what's wrong in me.]

One day I discovered that A doesn't cause C at all. B --causes--C. B is my thinking ABOUT the event, person, situation or happening. C is my feeling or action and it is actually the result of my B. It is my B that is the culprit when faced with the lousiness of my C. Get that down. [Could it be this is what is meant by "as a man thinketh?"]

This is the ABCs of opting out of the blame game. How you think about a situation or event or person is the cause of what you feel or do. An illustration might help. I use this with permission granted from my daughter with whom, along with her husband and daughter, Mary and I celebrated my 67th birthday lunch today.

Years ago, as this was fleshing out to reality in me, I apologized to our older three kids for the sorry parenting I had done with them. The caboose [4th] born nine years after the third got the benefit of the Grace life I was learning. Some of my parenting was good but a lot was bad. [I speak only for myself and Mary can speak for herself, as she does extremely well in these matters, hence the first person singular.] For example, I tried to make them trophies of my ministry early on instead of trophies of His Grace. That's BAD...really BAD. They forgave me but the process was not too pleasant. They were and are that kind of gracious adult children.

I digress here with cause-----The family dynamic that went into working through the baggage we all carried as a family was as painful as any process I can imagine. It took MANY family times that often went into the wee hours of the morning long after the little kids, our grandchildren, were in bed. Those times were worth the price but I must never minimize the depth of pain and difficulty involved for all of us. Mary and I were surprised when one day a friend who is a medical doctor said to us, after we were merely sharing with him one of our sessions of brokenness, "oh, you guys are part of that rare 2% [he could have said 5% I don't remember the exact small number he used] of families that are willing to say I'm sorry." I don't know where he got his facts or figures but I think he's right about the rarity of it. It hurts too much for some families to go there.------Now back to the illustration.

Late one evening, after a family time much as just described, Cherri, our oldest, was talking to me and made a comment to the effect that my admission helped her see the reason for some of her behavior that had been reactionary to me as a parent. I said to her "Wait babe, I did you wrong and thank you for forgiving me, but your behavior is the consequence of what you've thought about what was done to you. I won't take responsibility for your behavior...that's yours." She tells people today it was that exchange that set her free to genuinely be on the road of Grace living. From my perspective her change came about because of a girl who was courageous enough to take responsibility for her thoughts and actions instead of blaming an obviously faulty father or any other faulty family member.

It has to be obvious that if I do not take responsibility for the bad choices she made I can not, with legitimacy, take credit for the good ones either. She is the heroine here. She is not a victim but a victor in life because of refusing to play the blame game. Her mind became ultimately occupied with who the REAL Father is and what He's like and that mind-set empowered her choices and actions and set her free to make good choices and have good feelings instead of the negative ones she had been having. [The B of this ABC stuff. It's called living by faith.] When this becomes the environment of an entire family it truly CAN become a family where Grace is in place. That's the journey the our family is on. Haven't arrived yet, but traveling down that road.

Remember we are ultimately speaking here of relationship skills that we need to learn that grow out of the truth we know about who we are in Him and to Him all because of the person and work of Christ and what He's done on our behalf. We forgive BECAUSE we are already forgiven ourselves. We love BECAUSE we are already loved ourselves. We extend mercy BECAUSE we already have mercy extended to us. We are FREE to act, choose, do BECAUSE we are accepted.

So...when I feel terrible, or choose badly or act like a jerk, I can honestly see it, not blame any one else, and deal with my responsibility for it. My personhood is NOT dependent on my performance but His and He has accomplished it all. I now live in the Grace of it and extend that Grace to others on the journey with me.

Now...on a motorcycle trip, two different people, at times cranky, short-fused, tired, as well as hungry and thirsty, how do you do it? Well you don't blame the other one so there is no "taking it out on the other one." Neither will permit that. Too much respect to permit that. We don't have our personhood tied to our performance. We can be honest about the lousy conditions without blame and laugh about the good conditions with joy and enjoy really living life to it's fullest.

By the way, marriage is something of a forever motorcycle trip without the motorcycle. Just two people on a journey together and it sure helps to have leaned some of this stuff....together.

Life is good...difficult on occasion...but that's all her fault....if she would just.... :)



Bob Cleveland said...

Another same page deal here, brother. I heard a report, on the Today Show in the early 60's, about some book or other in which the author said something like "Nobody EVER makes you feel or do ANYthing. You DECIDE how you'll feel and what you'll do." And I heard that before I was trying to follow God.

The idea of me being the master of my feelings and my actions appealed to my ego, so I adopted that attitude. Like ... you're not good enough to control my feelings.

That worked so well in my life, that when I started pursuing the Christian life, the verses about a calm and peaceful spirit and about letting all malice and guile and that stuff be put away from you, really resonated with me.

I'm responsible for me, and my actions and my feelings and my attitudes. When I have trouble with them, I have to go to the One Who invented me, for service work. His shop, fortunately, is always open.

Paul Burleson said...


Talk about a comment adding to a post...well said my friend.

Chuck Andrews said...

Great couple of post. The pictures are exceptional. Sounds like you and Freddy had a wonderful trip.

There were eleven different men in the room when Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Eleven different perspectives and personalities instructed to live in a relationship that the world could identify them by.

Our differences can divide us, distract us, and even deceive us if we let them. But, if we celebrate our differences, as you and Freddy illustrate, then our differences can give us diverse perspectives and delicate balances to our distinct individualities. If we can learn to live what you have so clearly articulated then not only can we tolerate those who are different than us but we can actually enjoy one another.

Since I know you and Freddy, I can say with insight, “thanks for the living example of the power of God’s Spirit being lived out in two totally different guys.”

By the way, Happy Birthday.


Paul Burleson said...



It's time for breakfast again. Let's do it.

Chilton Family said...

One more thing...our pastor said tonight...If you can make someone else the enemy, then you never have to deal with your junk. So true and along the lines of what your writing. You should download his sermon from this weekend off of our website when it's posted this next week!!


Chilton Family said...

Okay I promise this is my last comment, but I just realized I hadn't signed in my blogging account when I left those comments so you may have no clue who I am! HA!! So...this is Bobby and Marjory Brown's daughter! Hope that rings a bell. You don't have to post this comment either!


Paul Burleson said...


Ring a bell? You guys are almost my own kids. What a delight to hear from you.

One of these days Mary and I will be coming to hear your Pastor. We may even be able to meet your mom amd dad there and take all you Chiltons to lunch.

Thanks for stopping by.